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Parotid & Salivary Gland Info
The major salivary glands, three pairs in total, are found in and around your mouth and throat. The major salivary glands are the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. All the glands secrete alkaline digestive fluid, commonly known as saliva, into your mouth. The parotid secretes saliva through tubes that drain saliva, called salivary ducts, near your upper teeth. Submandibular glands, meanwhile, secrete saliva under your tongue, while the sublingual secretes saliva through many ducts in the floor of the mouth.
There are also many tiny glands, called minor salivary glands, which are located in your lips, inner cheek area, and extensively in other linings of your mouth and throat. Together, the salivary glands produce saliva, which is used to help moisten your mouth, soften the food we chew, initiate digestion, protect the teeth from decay, and help keep the mouth clean by defending the body from germs. The flow of saliva is stimulated by the presence of food in the mouth, or even the sight and smell of food.
Unfortunately, there are several disorders that may impede the salivary glands from functioning properly, and some that may even affect ones overall health.
Major Salivary Glands
The major salivary glands include three pairs of glands; parotid, submandibular, and sublingual. All major glands are located in and around the mouth and throat. The parotid glands are located near the ear, in the upper portion of each cheek. From the gland, a duct drains saliva into the mouth. The submandibular glands are found on both sides, just under the jaw, towards the back of the mouth. Their ducts enter the mouth under the tongue. Sublingual glands, meanwhile, reside beneath the tongue, and supply saliva to the floor of the mouth.
Minor Salivary Glands
There are many tiny glands, over 600 in total, and they are called minor salivary glands. These glands are located in your lips, inner cheek area, and extensively in other linings of your mouth and throat. These glands are 1-2mm in diameter, and, unlike other glands, not encapsulated by connective tissue. A minor salivary gland may have a common excretory duct with another gland, or have its own excretory duct. Their secretion is mainly mucous, but has many functions, such as coating the oral cavity with saliva. Problems with dentures are, actually, often associated with minor salivary glands.
In humans, the largest pair of salivary glands is located in the upper part of each cheek, sitting just below and in front of each ear. These glands, which are wrapped around the mandibular ramus, are called the parotid glands.
The parotid gland is one of the glands essential to secreting saliva. The parotid glands accomplish this secretion of saliva by the salivatory glands through the Stensen’s ducts, into the oral cavity. This process facilitates chewing and swallowing, and begins the digestion of starches. This secretion of saliva is not only useful in the digestion of food, but absolutely essential to our survival.
Unfortunately, there are several disorders that may prevent the parotid glands from functioning properly, and some that may even affect our overall health. The parotid glands are subject to growths, usually benign, as well as infections.
If you would like to know more about the salivary glands, schedule a consultation with Dr. Larian today by calling 310.461.0300.
Next, learn about salivary gland inflammation.