Salivary Duct Stones – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment
What are the salivary duct stones?
Salivary duct stones are deposits of crystallized minerals in the salivary ducts. Salivary ducts drain the salivary glands. This condition is called sialolithiasis in medical terms. This condition mostly occurs in the middle-aged adults.
Sputum (saliva) is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. When salivary duct stones block the duct, saliva backs up into the gland. This causes pain and swelling of the gland.
What causes salivary duct stones?
The buildup of chemicals in one of the salivary glands or the ducts causes the formation of salivary duct stones. The chemicals in saliva can form stone-like hard crystals that can block the salivary ducts. Salivary duct stones most often form in the submandibular glands and its ducts. They may also form in the parotid glands.
There are three pairs of salivary glands:
- Parotid Glands: Parotid glands are located in each cheek over the jaw in front of the ears. These are the two largest salivary glands.
- Submandibular glands: Submandibular glands are located just under both sides of the jaw and carry saliva up to the floor of the mouth under the tongue.
- SublingualGlands: Sublingual glands are located just under the front area of the floor of the mouth.
What are the symptoms of salivary duct stones?
The symptoms of salivary duct stones occur most often when eating or drinking. The following symptoms can occur due to the formation of salivary duct stones:
- Trouble opening the mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Pain in the face or mouth
- Swelling of the face or neck (can be severe when eating or drinking)
How are salivary duct stones diagnosed?
Your doctor or the dentist will examine your head and neck area to look for one or more enlarged, tender salivary glands. The doctor may be able to find the stone during the exam by feeling under your tongue.
Your doctor may order imaging tests, such as x-rays, ultrasound, MRI scan or CT scan of the face to confirm the diagnosis.
How are salivary duct stones treated?
The goal of the treatment is to increase the saliva production and push out the stone or stones out of the duct. Your doctor or dentist may suggest using sugar-free lemon drops to increase the saliva production. Drinking plenty of water may also increase the saliva and relieve dry mouth.
Your doctor or the dentist may remove the stone or stones in one of the following ways:
- Massage the gland with heat to push the stone out of the duct.
- In some cases, surgery is used to cut out the stone.
- Break the stone into small pieces using shock waves.
- Sialoendoscopy. This is a minimally invasive technique used to diagnose and treat stones in the salivary gland duct.
- Removal of the affected salivary gland. This is done if stones become infected or come back often.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.