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Salivary glands produce saliva, which helps you digest food and maintain a moist environment in the throat and mouth. There are three types of salivary glands called the sublingual, submandibular and parotid glands. Each of these glands produces saliva and secretes it into the mouth.
There are also minor salivary glands inside your mouth in your inner cheek and lips. Minor salivary glands can also help prevent tooth decay. Maintaining proper hydration can help prevent salivary gland diseases, so drink lots of water to help keep your mouth hydrated.
At NextGen OMS, we treat a number of salivary gland conditions. Our oral surgeon, Dr. Eftekhari, is one of the best practitioners in Plano, TX.
Location of Salivary Glands
Parotid glands contain your facial nerves, which control your facial muscles. If you want to close your eyelids, smile or raise an eyebrow, you need your parotid glands to do so. Thankfully, the majority of tumors in this region are not cancerous.
The second-largest salivary glands are called the submandibular glands and are named for their location. They lie below the jawbone. As with parotid gland tumors, abnormal growths in this area are often benign.
The last set of major salivary glands, the sublingual glands, lie on either side of your tongue. They can also develop mostly benign tumors.
Symptoms of Salivary Gland Disorders
If you have a salivary gland disorder, your symptoms may vary, depending on the condition you develop. Keep reading to learn about the most common symptoms of salivary gland disorders that indicate it’s time to visit an oral surgeon for diagnosis and treatment.
Fever, chills and weakness may indicate a more severe problem requiring immediate treatment. Painful lumps under your chin or inside cheek may indicate salivary gland disorders, including cancer. Pus discharge from the salivary ducts indicates it’s time to schedule a consultation with an oral surgeon in Plano, TX.
If you have a viral infection, you may experience fever, muscle aches, poor appetite, joint pain, and general achiness. Additionally, many conditions of the salivary gland make it difficult to open your mouth to eat or speak.
What Causes Salivary Glands to Stop Working?
Often, salivary ducts become clogged, making it impossible for saliva to drain. This can cause your mouth to become dehydrated. Exposure to radiation and smoking can increase your risk of developing salivary gland conditions such as tumors and cancer. In extreme cases, you may need to have your salivary gland removed by a qualified oral surgeon.
Do People Live Without Salivary Glands?
You can live a full and productive life, even if the oral surgeon has to remove your salivary glands. However, you will need to substitute artificial saliva to keep your mouth healthy.
About Salivary Gland Surgery
The type of surgery you have depends on the location of your salivary gland tumors. Your surgeon will tell you which surgery you’re having. To get you started, here are descriptions of the different types of surgery.
Parotid gland surgery
Tumors that develop in the parotid gland fall within two main categories. If you have a superficial parotid tumor, it’s located over the facial nerve. On the other hand, deep lobe parotid tumors form under the nerves of your face.
An oral surgeon uses precision techniques to remove the tumor without injuring the nerves. In a completely successful surgery, the surgeon can take out the entire tumor without any impact to your facial nerves.
During the procedure, the surgeon uses advanced equipment to monitor your facial nerves. They make a surgical cut beside your ear and continue the incision into the neck region. This allows them access to the nerves in your face and the gland tumor they need to remove. The oral surgeon takes out the parotid gland tumor and sends it to a lab for analysis. If you have cancer cells in the tumor, further treatment may be required.
Submandibular gland surgery
This procedure is quite different from the one for parotid tumor removal. The oral surgeon makes a surgical cut along your jaw to reach the submandibular gland tumor. As in the case of parotid tumors, it’s important to send a tumor off for analysis by a pathology department. For this surgery, the oral surgeon uses sutures or surgical tape to close the incision.
Sublingual gland surgery
It’s very rare to develop a tumor under the tongue in the sublingual glands. If you have a sublingual gland tumor, your surgeon will work with you to determine the best way to treat it.
Will You Experience Facial Changes
Many clients want to know if they will have facial changes following surgery to remove salivary gland tumors.
It’s possible that you will have some changes to your face following the surgery. It depends on how much tissue the surgeon has to remove. Talk to your surgeon about what you should expect following the procedure.
In some cases, you may have to undergo another procedure to correct any deformities caused by the surgery. You may also need physical therapy to retrain the muscles in your face so that you can speak and eat properly.
In rare cases, you may have difficulty closing your eye on the side of your face affected by the surgery. In that case, you’ll receive eye drops or ointment to keep the eye moist. Some clients experience lower lip weakness that affects their facial expressions. This could be temporary or permanent depending on the nature of your surgery.
Although undergoing salivary gland surgery may seem a bit scary, it’s important to follow the recommendations of your surgeon in order to properly treat any tumors or other disorders. The earlier you catch salivary gland disorders, the sooner you can receive treatment and have a more positive outcome.
Contact NextGen OMS to set up a consultation in Plano, TX, today.