Healthy saliva production is an important part of your healthy smile, as saliva lubricates your mouth so that you can swallow while protecting your teeth and gums from bacteria. Not only does it make your breath smell better, it helps you digest your food and even keeps dentures or other dental appliances in place.
Saliva consists mostly of water mixed with mucus, glycoproteins, antibacterial compounds, electrolytes, and enzymes. It travels through tubes in the mouth from your salivary glands, which are found under your tongue, as well as the floor of your mouth and inside each cheek. Occasionally these glands can become blocked which can result in dry mouth, pain in the glands, fever, pus secretions, and swollen salivary glands. Common problems to watch out for include:
Salivary stones – these are saliva deposits which have crystallized. The stones can cause the salivary glands to swell, and if they block saliva flow it can cause swelling and pain. To avoid getting an infection in the salivary gland you will need to be treated. You will feel pain that comes and goes and worsens.
Salivary gland infection – these are bacterial infections in the glands blocking the ducts. Bacterial infections develop in one salivary gland, accompanied by fever and pain. These type of infections can come from the bacteria in the mouth or staph bacteria. You will feel a painful lump in the mouth that secretes a foul-tasting fluid, or pus. Neglecting treatment can result in fevers, abscesses and severe pain.
Infections – viral infections, such as those arising from the mumps or flu may cause swelling in the salivary glands. Unlike bacterial infections, these usually happens in the glands inside both cheeks, and you will have puffy looking cheeks.
Cysts and tumors – other problems the salivary glands can experience include cysts and tumors from stones, injuries or infections which block the saliva flow in the glands. They can show up as a soft raised area or blister and can interfere with eating and speaking, and tumors are usually painless and grow slowly.
Treatment may include medication, antibiotics, stone removal, warm compresses, and even sour candies to increase saliva flow. For tumors and large cysts, you may require surgery to remove the problem.
If you have any questions or concerns about your salivary glands, you can schedule a visit with one of our dedicated dentists, Dr. Marcie Bunch and Dr. Minjeong Suk by calling our Smiley Dental Buckner team in Dallas, Texas at 972.616.0060 today!