The major salivary glands consist of three sets of paired major glands: the two parotid glands (near the angle of the mandible), the two submandibular glands (beneath the mandible) and the two sublingual glands (beneath the floor of the mouth) and, in addition, many minor salivary glands which are scattered submucosally (under the lining), throughout the mouth, oropharynx (throat), palate and occasionally the nose.
The salivary glands are prone to a variety of conditions and diseases, including
- rare developmental disorders such as developmental cysts and very common conditions such as traumatically induced cysts
- obstructive disease, mainly afflicting the ducts from the glands (about 80 % of salivary gland calculi (stones) occur in the ducts of the submandibular gland)
- acute and chronic bacterial infections
- viral infection (mumps)
- autoimmune disease - Sjögren’s syndrome
- a huge and bewildering range of neoplasms (tumours), the majority of which are benign (not malignant). Malignant salivary gland tumours are very rare, with an incidence in Europe of 1.2 per 100,000.
Next section: Salivary gland problems