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  • Writer's pictureJackie Morrill-Faucher

Salivary Stones

Photos credit- Salivary stones can form in the ducts of any salivary gland. Image credit: James Heilman, MD, 2012

Salivary stones are small stones that form in the glands of your mouth. They are caused by a buildup of calcium and other mineral deposits. These deposits then block the flow of saliva, called sialolithiasis, and usually cause pain or discomfort. In most cases they resolve themselves or with the help of a few at home remedies, in some cases they need medical treatment.

The mouth contains hundreds of minor salivary glands, but salivary stones usually form in one of the three major salivary glands. The three major glands are; the parotid gland, the submandibular gland and the sublingual gland. The submandibular gland is located in the floor of your mouth near the jaw line, 80% of salivary stones form here. The parotid gland is below the ears inside the cheeks, and the sublingual gland is under the tongue, these two glands do occasionally form salivary stones but it’s less common. Salivary stones vary in size, and are usually hard and white. The larger the stone the more likely you will get a blocked gland leading to pain and swelling. Some of the common symptoms include; a sore or painful lump under your tongue, pain or swelling below the jaw line or ears, as well as pain that increases while eating. Symptoms can come and go for duration of a week, or they can be persistent. In most cases you can work these stones out but occasionally medical treatment is needed. Medical treatment is needed when the stone gets too large and won’t release or the gland becomes infected which can cause a fever, or abscess around the stone. If the stone becomes infected you should consult your dentist or doctor immediately as antibiotics can be given, in addition to evaluation for removal by an oral surgeon.

It is not fully known what causes these salivary stones but there are a few factors that can increase one’s risk of getting them;

1. Dehydration/ Not drinking enough water

2. Poor eating habits

3. Smoking

4. Gum Disease

5. Medications (esp. antihistamines, blood pressure medications, bladder control and psychiatric drugs)

6. Mouth injuries or trama to glands

7. Kidney problems

8. Gout or Sjogren’s syndrome

9. Radiation therapy on head or neck

10. Men are more prone than women

11. People between ages 30- 60

Some of the home remedies that can help to release a blocked salivary gland include;

1. Sucking in citrus fruits or hard sugar free candies

2. Drinking lots of fluids

3. Gently massage the affected area – below is the link with directions on how to massage area

Two ways to help with the pain and swelling:

1. Sucking on ice cubes – this helps reduce pain and swelling

2. Take OTC medication - acetaminophen to help relieve pain and ibuprofen to help swelling


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