A salivary gland infection occurs once a viral or bacterial infection affects the salivary gland or duct. The infection can develop from the diminished flow of saliva that might be due to an obstruction or inflammation of the salivary duct.
Saliva helps with digestion, breaking down food and keeps the mouth clean. It also washes away food particles and bacteria. It also helps in controlling the amount of both good and bad bacteria in the mouth.
There are 3 pairs of large salivary glands located on each side of the face.
- Parotid glands – biggest glands and located within the cheek right above the jaw in front of the ears.
- Submandibular glands – located on each side of the jaw beneath the jawbone
- Sublingual glands – positioned on the base of the mouth beneath the tongue
What are the possible causes?
A salivary gland infection is usually triggered by a bacterial infection. Staphylococcus aureus is the usual cause of salivary gland infection. The other possible cause of the infection includes the following:
- Escherichia coli
- Streptococcus viridans
- Streptococcus pyogenes
- Haemophilus influenzae
Take note that these infections result from diminished production of saliva. This is often triggered by the obstruction or inflammation of the salivary gland duct. Certain viruses and other health conditions can also reduce the production of saliva such as the following:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Radiation therapy for cancer in the head or neck area
- Blockage of the salivary duct due to mucus
- Salivary stone
- Influenza A
- Sjogren’s syndrome
Indications of salivary gland infection
A doctor should be consulted so that an accurate diagnosis can be given. The indications of a salivary gland infection strikingly mimic other conditions with symptoms such as the following:
- Dry mouth
- Constant abnormal or foul taste in the mouth
- Facial pain
- Pus in the mouth
- Pain in the mouth
- Difficulty or inability to fully open the mouth
- Pain or discomfort when opening the mouth or while eating
- Swelling of the neck or face
- Swelling or redness over the jaw in front of the ears, beneath the jaw or base of the mouth
- Indications of infection such as chills or fever
A doctor should be consulted right away if an individual is suspected with a salivary gland infection along with high fever, difficulty swallowing or breathing or the symptoms are worsening.
Remember that there is no way to prevent most cases of salivary gland infections. The ideal way to minimize the risk of developing the infection is to drink more fluids and observe good oral hygiene such as regular brushing and flossing of the teeth twice daily.