Salivary gland infections occur as painful swellings of any of the salivary glands. The parotid glands are located under the skin in front of the ear overlying the jaw bone, and the submandibular glands are located underneath the jaw. All of these glands produce saliva which is useful for chewing, swallowing, and maintenance of proper oral health.
Salivary gland infections occur when bacteria infect the normal salivary gland anatomy. When this occurs in the parotid gland it may cause painful fullness or swelling in front of the ear. When this occurs in a submandibular gland, painful tenderness may be felt below the jaw or in the neck. Infections are more likely to occur during times of dehydration when less saliva is made. Infections may be limited in nature, lasting only a period of days, or chronic, lasting for weeks.
Salivary gland infections are commonly treated with increasing water intake and massage. Increasing the saliva production by sucking on lemon wedges or hard candy may help as well. Antibiotics are also commonly used. If an abscess is present, in which pus is present, a surgery may be necessary to drain the infection.
For patients with recurrent salivary gland infections, a surgery to remove the salivary gland may be indicated. This is known as a submandibular gland resection or parotidectomy.
If you think that you have salivary gland infections, please contact Dr. William Armstrong or Dr. Sunil Verma for evaluation.