There are three pairs of major salivary glands found in and around the mouth and throat - called the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands.
The parotid glands are located in front of and beneath the ear. A duct, called Stensen's duct, drains saliva from the parotid gland into the mouth, at the area of the upper cheeks.
The submandibular glands are found on both sides of the mouth, just under and deep to the jaw, towards the back of the mouth. This gland produces roughly seventy percent of the saliva in the mouth. The submandibular duct, called Warthin's duct, enters the floor of the mouth under the front of the tongue.
Sublingual glands, meanwhile, reside beneath the tongue, and supply saliva to the floor of the mouth as well. In addition, there are many (between 600 and 1,000) tiny glands called minor salivary glands. These glands are 1 - 2mm in diameter and coat all the mucosal surfaces or lining of the mouth and throat.
Together, the salivary glands produce saliva, which moisten the mouth, soften food during chewing, initiate digestion, protect the teeth from decay and keep the mouth clean by washing away germs. The flow of saliva is stimulated by the presence of food in the mouth, or even the sight and smell of food.
The parotid glands, in particular, produce a type of saliva that is "serous", which means it's watery and thin. It has the protein Amylase that helps begin the process of starch digestion. When we are not eating, the parotid glands each contribute ten percent of saliva in the mouth. However, when stimulated by eating, the saliva each parotid gland produces accounts for twenty-five percent.
A number of complications are known to impact the parotid glands. In addition to being susceptible to tumors and cancers, the parotid is also commonly affected by stones, cysts, inflammation and infections.
Treating Parotid Gland Conditions
The treatment of parotid gland conditions is complex and needs to be addressed with very delicately. Thus, successful treatment requires an experienced surgeon who can resolve the disease, maximize the gland's function and preserve the associated nerves and structures.
Committed to a multidisciplinary approach, the CENTER provides our patients with access to leading specialists who can ensure the best possible treatment outcomes. With decades of experience and extensive expertise in head and neck surgery, reconstructive surgery, anesthesiology and facial nerve therapy, our team is fully qualified to treat virtually all aspects of parotid disease.