A salivary gland inflammation (medical: sialadenitis ) refers to the inflammation of one of the salivary glands, which affects mainly elderly or immunocompromised persons.

It is a very painful condition, usually caused by bacteria or viruses.


Salivary gland inflammation refers to the inflammation no matter which of the many salivary glands of man.
Most commonly, the three major salivary glands are affected by far:

  • Sublingual gland,
  • Submandibular gland
  • Parotid gland

however, inflammation may also occur once in the smaller salivary glands in the pharynx, cheek mucosa or lips.


Most salivary infections are either caused by:

  • Bacteria: usually staphylococci or streptococci or
  • Viruses: especially mumps or coxsackie viruses

Often, salivary gland inflammation is also caused by the presence of salivary stones or their formation is at least favored by these stones. This is because, due to salivary stones, the saliva backlogs and can lay the duct of the gland. As a result, the secretion can no longer flow away.
This accumulated forms a perfect breeding ground on which bacteria and viruses can multiply very well.
Narrowing due to other reasons (for example, tumors or scars) can also lead to salivary gland inflammation via the same mechanism.

In addition to these common causes, autoimmune diseases (such as Sjögren's syndrome), certain medications, poor oral hygiene, or mouth irritation ( stomatitis ) are less likely to trigger salivary gland inflammation.

Certain underlying diseases can also promote the formation of a stone and thus salivary gland inflammation:

  • Diabetes mellitus,
  • Gout or one
  • Excess of calcium ions


As a rule, only one side is affected by salivary gland inflammation, with the exception of mumps, which are more bilateral.

The inflammation usually occurs very suddenly and is accompanied by a, sometimes massive, swelling of the face and hardening of the diseased side. Additionally, in some patients, the skin over the gland may be reddened and feel warmer.

If it is a purulent inflammation, it can happen that pus empties into the mouth, resulting in an unpleasant taste. In addition, there is typically severe pain. These are often more pronounced during chewing (as masticatory muscles and temporomandibular joint are near the glands) and food (because during this time saliva production increases, causing saliva to press even more on the inflamed tissue). The consequence of this is that many people do not like to eat anymore or even open their mouths.


The suspicion of salivary gland inflammation results from the typical symptoms described above and is usually made by the affected person.

To finally secure the diagnosis, a doctor should always be consulted. This will first perform a detailed examination of the affected gland. The gland must be scanned. Occasionally, this causes emptying of a purulent fluid that is sent to the lab. This can then be a pathogen detection. In addition, it is examined whether there are other abnormalities in the oral cavity, which could possibly explain the salivary gland inflammation.

In some cases, an examination of blood helps to make a diagnosis. To exclude or prove a salivary stone, an ultrasound examination is carried out. This study is able to detect stones with a size from 1.5 millimeters with a safety of over 99%. It also serves to differentiate between a salivary stone and a tumor or abscess.

Another possibility for the representation of salivary stones ( sialolith ) is the so-called sialography. In the process, a liquid with contrast agent is injected into the affected salivary gland, which makes it and its entire duct system visible via an X-ray image. In exceptional cases, one of the following studies may also be useful:

  • Computed tomography (CT),
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),
  • a reflection (endoscopy) or a
  • Fine needle aspiration are performed.


You can already do a lot against salivary gland inflammation. In principle, help:

  • cooling alcoholic envelopes,
  • a thorough oral hygiene and a
  • increased fluid intake.

Solid food should be best avoided in the acute phase.

Otherwise, the specific therapy depends on the cause of the inflammation. In a bacterial infection antibiotics are used. Otherwise you treat more symptomatic, especially with anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers.

In addition, so-called "saliva-looseners" are recommended. These are substances that stimulate the formation of saliva:

  • These include chewing gum,
  • sour candies and drinks (for example with lemon juice).

Due to the increased salivation the gland is "cleaned" from within. If a stone is underlying the inflammation, it can sometimes even be carried out by the saliva-looseners.

If this fails, there are other ways to remove the stone:

  • Some stones (especially if they are at the end of the excretory duct) can be solved by a massage.
  • Otherwise, extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy ( ESWL ) is usually performed.

In this treatment, shock waves are directed onto the stone from the outside, causing it to be smashed into small pieces that can then go out by themselves. With very large stones, just as with abscesses, usually a surgical intervention can not be avoided.


Most salivary inflammations take a good course. Only if they last a long time and are inadequately treated can it happen that an abscess forms on the bottom of the inflammation. It is the accumulation of pus in a capsule. If it spontaneously empties into the tissue, this can cause blood poisoning ( sepsis ). Chronic inflammation can also lead to the long-term dying of tissue (atrophy) and scarring.


There are measures that can reduce the risk of developing salivary gland inflammation.

These include above all:

  • good oral hygiene (douching) and
  • good dental care.

In addition, you should drink enough, as this makes the settlement of bacteria more difficult. In addition, special vaccinations (for example against mumps) help against salivary gland inflammation by special pathogens.

Salivary Gland Inflammation v2 (June 2020).

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