The salivary glands surround are found in and around the mouth and throat. While there are thousands of minor glands, the "major" salivary glands are larger paired structures - the parotid, submandibular & sublingual glands. They secrete saliva into the mouth through ducts, and are important for the digestion of food, health of the teeth and gums, and eliminating bacteria and bad breath.

In general, 3 major disorders arise in the salivary glands: obstruction & swelling; infection and tumours.

Obstruction - This can be caused by any blockage of the saliva ducts, most commonly by stones.  It can result in rapid pain and swelling, especially before meals when saliva production increases.

Infection - The major salivary glands are susceptible to common viral infections such as mumps, which are usually self - limiting and resolve with simple treatment. Bacterial infections can be more severe, resulting in severe pain, swelling, redness, fevers and difficulty eating. On occasions, an abscess may form.

Tumours - These growths can be benign or malignant, and may begin within the salivary glands, or result from spread from an adjacent area. Often they are painless swellings, and may be noticed by you or your doctor on a routine examination. The parotid glands are close to the facial nerve, which powers muscle movements on each side of the face, and weakness to these muscles may indicate nerve involvement. Imaging studies and a biopsy will be arranged, and this will dictate whether surgery is necessary to remove the growth. 

Your ENT-Head & Neck Surgeon is able to manage all of these issues related to the salivary glands.