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Salivary duct stones

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Sialolithiasis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Saliva (spit) is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. The chemicals in saliva can crystallize into a stone that can block the salivary ducts.

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

Salivary stones most often affect the submandibular glands (at the back of the mouth on both sides of the jaw), but they can also affect the parotid glands (on the sides of the face).

Symptoms

The symptoms are usually most noticeable when eating or drinking.

Signs and tests

An examination of the head and neck by the health care provider or dentist shows one or more enlarged, tender salivary glands. The doctor may be able to feel the stone during examination.

X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scan of the face can confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

The goal is to remove the stone. The doctor or dentist may be able to push the stone out of the duct. In some cases, the stone may need to be surgically cut out.

Most often, the stone can be flushed out by increasing the flow of saliva with sour candy or citrus (which stimulate the flow of saliva) combined with increased fluids and massage.

Expectations (prognosis)

Salivary duct stones are uncomfortable, but not dangerous. The stone is usually removed with only minimal discomfort.

If the person has repeated stones or infections, the affected salivary gland may need to be surgically removed.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of salivary duct stones.


Review Date: 3/3/2009
Reviewed By: James L. Demetroulakos, MD, FACS, Department of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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