The salivary glands produce saliva to moisten the mouth, help protect teeth from decay and to digest food. The three major salivary glands are the parotid gland, submandibular gland and sublingual glands. The parotid gland produces watery saliva, approximately 25% of all your saliva, and drains into the mouth near the upper teeth.
The submandibular gland makes thicker saliva, approximately 70% of your saliva, and drains into the mouth from under the tongue. The sublingual gland makes approximately 5% of your saliva and drains into the floor of the mouth. The most common problems in the salivary gland occur when the ducts become blocked and cannot drain. The main reasons for surgery are inflammation and tumours.
I need to take a history and perform an examination. You may need an x-ray, CT scan or MRI. Some patients require a fine needle biopsy.
Surgery is usually required to remove the effected gland. These include the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. I find that many patients worry about surgical scars as they can be quite obvious in the upper neck. There are a couple of ways I minimise scarring in this situation. If the submandibular gland is involved then one option is to use Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) to access the submandibular gland via the mouth. With this approach there is no external scarring. If the parotid gland needs to be removed then I use a facelift incision whenever possible. This ensures that any scarring is hidden behind the ear.