The Role of Salivary Glands in Oral Health: Understanding Disorders and Solutions

At Southhill Comprehensive Dentistry, good oral health encompasses more than just a beautiful smile. Having a beautiful smile also involves our salivary glands, an underappreciated part of our mouths that keeps our teeth and gums clean. Salivary gland disorders can have a significant impact on your oral health, leading to further diseases and chronic oral health. In this article, we’ll briefly go over what salivary gland disorders are, what symptoms to look out for, and the effects they can have on your oral health. 

What Are Salivary Gland Disorders? 

Salivary gland disorders refer to a group of diseases that cause inflammation and affect how the salivary glands function. Salivary glands produce saliva, which helps maintain moisture in the mouth and wash away harmful bacteria. Salivary gland disorders often cause either an increase or decrease in saliva production, with some of the most common types include: 

  • Sjögren’s Syndrome: This autoimmune disorder leads to reduced saliva production and tear production, with symptoms that include dry mouth, dry eyes, fatigue, and joint pain. 
  • Salivary Gland Stones: Also known as sialolithiasis, these calcified deposits form within the ducts of the salivary glands, causing obstruction in saliva flow, which can lead to swelling, pain, and infection. 
  • Salivary Gland Infections: Bacteria and viral infections in the salivary glands can cause problems with how the glands function, reducing saliva production and furthering the risk for oral diseases such as gum disease. 
  • Salivary Gland Tumors: These abnormal tissue growths can develop within the salivary glands and can be benign or malignant. When these tumors develop, they can cause swelling, pain, difficulty swallowing, and changes in facial muscle structure. 

Maintaining your oral health is crucial when faced with salivary gland disorders, as these disorders can lead to difficulties with tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking. These disorders can also lead to an increase in tooth decay and oral infections and cause further health problems down the road. It’s important to seek treatment for these types of diseases, and when you visit your dental office, you will be provided with various treatment options, including: 

  • Salivary Gland Stimulation: Your dentist may provide certain techniques to help stimulate the gland to alleviate symptoms of dry mouth and improve saliva flow. 
  • Salivary Gland Stone Removal: Your dentist may also provide surgery to manually remove the gland stones from the saliva ducts to improve saliva flow. 
  • Duct Dilation: If your gland problems come from narrowed or obstructed ducts, your dentist may be able to perform procedures to dilate the ducts and enhance saliva flow. 
  • Medications: Your dentist may prescribe medications to help manage your condition or eliminate any infection present in your salivary glands. 
  • Specialist Referrals: For more complex disorders and diseases related to the salivary glands, your dentist may refer you to a surgeon that specializes in salivary gland disorders for treatment. 

Schedule a Consultation with Southhill Comprehensive Dentistry Today!

At Southhill Comprehensive Dentistry, we strive to provide comprehensive care for patients needing quality dental care for their oral health. Our dedicated team is here to deliver compassionate, comprehensive care for all of your needs. Visit us in Spokane, WA, by calling (509) 747-8779 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ulysses Vargas today. 

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