What Is a Salivary Gland Infection?
A salivary gland infection occurs when a bacterial or viral infection affects your
salivary gland or duct. The infection can result from reduced saliva flow,
which can be due to a blockage or inflammation of your salivary duct. The
condition is called sialadenitis.
aids digestion, breaks down food, and works to keep your mouth clean. It washes
away bacteria and food particles. It also helps control the amount of good and
bad bacteria in your mouth.
bacteria and food particles are washed away when saliva doesn’t freely travel throughout your mouth. This may lead to
have three pairs of large (major) salivary glands. They’re located on each side of your face. Parotid glands, which are the largest, are inside
each cheek. They sit above your jaw in front of your ears. When one or more of
these glands is infected, it’s
Submandibular glands are
located on each side of your jaw below the jawbone. Sublingual glands sit on
the bottom of your mouth under your tongue. Additionally, hundreds of small
(minor) salivary glands deposit saliva from ducts around your mouth.
Causes of Salivary Gland Infection
salivary gland infection is typically caused by a bacterial infection. Staphylococcus
aureus is the most common cause of salivary
gland infection. Others causes of salivary gland infection include:
infections result from reduced saliva production. This is often caused by the
blockage or inflammation of the salivary gland duct. Viruses and other medical
conditions can also reduce saliva production, including:
which is a contagious viral infection that’s common among children who haven’t
A and parainfluenza types I and II
salivary duct blocked by mucus
syndrome, which is an autoimmune condition that causes dry mouth
which is a condition in which patches of inflammation occur throughout the body
cancer treatment of the head and neck
- inadequate oral hygiene
Risk Factors for Infection
following factors can make you more susceptible to a salivary gland infection:
over age 65
inadequate oral hygiene
- not being immunized against mumps
following chronic conditions also can increase your risk of developing an
- xerostomia, or dry mouth syndrome
Symptoms of Salivary Gland Infection
following list of symptoms may indicate a salivary gland infection. You should
consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms of a salivary gland
infection can mimic those of other conditions. Symptoms include:
constant abnormal or foul taste in your mouth
to fully open your mouth
or pain when opening your mouth or eating
in your mouth
in your mouth
or swelling over your jaw in front of your ears, below your jaw, or on the
bottom of your mouth
of your face or neck
- signs of infection, such as fever or chills
Contact your doctor immediately if you have a
salivary gland infection and experience a high fever, trouble breathing or
swallowing, or worsening symptoms. Your symptoms may require emergency
gland infection complications are uncommon. If a salivary gland infection is left
untreated, pus can collect and form an abscess in the salivary gland.
salivary gland infection caused by a benign tumor may cause an enlargement of
the glands. Malignant (cancerous) tumors can grow quickly and cause loss of
movement in the affected side of the face. This can impair part or all of the
cases where parotitis happens again, severe swelling of the neck can destroy
the affected glands.
may also have complications if the initial bacterial infection spreads from the
salivary gland to other parts of the body. This can include a bacterial skin
infection called cellulitis or Ludwig’s
angina, which is a form of cellulitis that occurs in the bottom of the mouth.
Diagnosis of Salivary Gland Infection
doctor can diagnose a salivary gland infection with a visual exam. Pus or pain
at the affected gland can indicate a bacterial infection.
your doctor suspects a salivary gland infection, you may have additional
testing to confirm the diagnosis and determine the underlying cause. The
following imaging tests can be used to further analyze a salivary gland
infection caused by an abscess, salivary stone, or tumor:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
doctor may also perform a biopsy of the affected salivary glands and ducts to
test tissue or fluid for bacteria or viruses.
Treatment of Salivary Gland Infection
depends on the severity of the infection, the underlying cause, and any additional
symptoms you have, such as swelling or pain.
may be used to treat a bacterial infection, pus, or fever. A fine needle
aspiration may be used to drain an abscess.
- drinking eight to 10 glasses of water daily with lemon
to stimulate saliva and keep glands clear
- massaging the affected gland
- applying warm compresses to the affected gland
- rinsing your mouth with warm salt water
- sucking on sour lemons or sugar-free lemon candy to
encourage saliva flow and reduce swelling
salivary gland infections don’t
require surgery. However, it may be necessary in cases of chronic or recurring
infections. Though uncommon, surgical treatment may involve removal of part or
all of the parotid salivary gland or removal of the submandibular salivary
There’s no way to prevent most salivary
gland infections. The best way to reduce your risk of developing an infection
is to drink plenty of fluids and practice good oral hygiene. This includes
brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily.