Also known as: Sialolithiasis
- Difficulty opening the mouth or swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Pain in the face or mouth
- Swelling of the face or neck (can be dramatic when eating or drinking)
- Increased risk of salivary gland infections
- Recurrence (coming back) of stones
Salivary duct stones are crystallized minerals in the ducts that drain the salivary glands. Salivary duct stones are a type of salivary gland disorder.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Saliva (spit) is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. The chemicals in saliva can crystallize into a stone that can block the salivary ducts.
When saliva cannot exit a blocked duct, it backs up into the gland, causing pain and swelling of the gland.
Salivary stones most often affect the submandibular glands (at the back of the mouth on both sides of the jaw), but they can also affect the parotid glands (on the sides of the face).
The symptoms are usually most noticeable when eating or drinking.
Signs and tests
An examination of the head and neck by the health care provider or dentist shows one or more enlarged, tender salivary glands. The doctor may be able to feel the stone during examination.
X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scan of the face can confirm the diagnosis.
The goal is to remove the stone. The doctor or dentist may be able to push the stone out of the duct. In some cases, the stone may need to be surgically cut out.
Most often, the stone can be flushed out by increasing the flow of saliva with sour candy or citrus (which stimulate the flow of saliva) combined with increased fluids and massage.
Salivary duct stones are uncomfortable, but not dangerous. The stone is usually removed with only minimal discomfort.
If the person has repeated stones or infections, the affected salivary gland may need to be surgically removed.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of salivary duct stones.
- Review date:
- March 3, 2009
- Reviewed by:
- James L. Demetroulakos, MD, FACS, Department of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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