MAIN MENU
QUICK LINKS
CONNECT WITH US

Button

Salivary duct stones

  • Definition
    • Salivary duct stones are deposits of minerals in the ducts that drain the salivary glands. Salivary duct stones are a type of salivary gland disorder.

  • Alternative Names
    • Sialolithiasis

  • Causes
    • Spit (saliva) is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. The chemicals in saliva can form a hard crystal that can block the salivary ducts.

      When saliva cannot exit a blocked duct, it backs up into the gland. This may cause pain and swelling of the gland.

      There are 3 pairs of major salivary glands:

      • Parotid glands: These are the 2 largest glands. One is located in each cheek over the jaw in front of the ears. Inflammation of 1 or more of these glands is called parotitis, or parotiditis.
      • Submandibular glands: These 2 glands are located just under both sides of the jaw and carry saliva up to the floor of mouth under the tongue.
      • Sublingual glands: These 2 glands are located just under the front area of the floor of the mouth.

      Salivary stones most often affect the submandibular glands. They can also affect the parotid glands.

  • Symptoms
    • Symptoms include:

      The symptoms occur most often when eating or drinking.

  • Exams and Tests
    • The health care provider or dentist will do an exam of your head and neck to look for 1 or more enlarged, tender salivary glands. The provider may be able to find the stone during the exam by feeling under your tongue.

      Tests such as x-rays, ultrasound, MRI scan or CT scan of the face are used to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Treatment
    • The goal is to remove the stone.

      Steps you can take at home include:

      • Drinking lots of water
      • Using sugar-free lemon drops to increase the saliva

      Other ways to remove the stone are:

      • Massaging the gland with heat. The provider or dentist may be able to push the stone out of the duct.
      • In some cases, you may need surgery to cut out the stone.
      • A newer treatment that uses shock waves to break the stone into small pieces is another option.
      • A new technique, called sialoendoscopy, can diagnose and treat stones in the salivary gland duct using very small cameras and instruments
      • If stones become infected or come back often, you may need surgery to remove the salivary gland.
  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • Most of the time, salivary duct stones cause only pain or discomfort, and at times become infected.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your provider if you have symptoms of salivary duct stones.

  • References
    • Elluru RG. Physiology of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 83.

      Jackson NM, Mitchell JL, Walvekar RR. Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 85.

      Miller-Thomas M. Diagnostic imaging and fine-needle aspiration of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 84.