Salivary gland infections are viral or bacterial infections of the saliva-producing glands.
There are three pairs of major salivary glands.
All of the salivary glands empty saliva into the mouth through ducts that open at various locations in the mouth.
Salivary gland infections are somewhat common.
Viral infections such as mumps often affect the salivary glands (mumps most often causes parotiditis). This type of infection is now considerably rare in children because of the MMR vaccine.
Bacterial infections usually result from obstruction (such as salivary duct stones) or poor oral hygiene. They can be seen in people who are dehydrated and hospitalized.
An examination by the health care provider or dentist shows enlarged salivary glands. Pus may drain into the mouth. The gland may be painful, particularly with bacterial infections. Viral infections such as mumps may cause painless swelling of the glands. A CT scan or ultrasound may be done if the doctor suspects an abscess.
In some cases, no treatment is necessary.
If there is pus or a fever, or if the infection is known or thought to be bacterial, antibiotics may be prescribed. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections.
If there is an abscess, surgical drainage or aspiration may be done.
Good oral hygiene, with thorough tooth brushing and flossing at least twice per day, may aid healing and help prevent an infection from spreading. If you are a smoker, stop smoking as it helps in recovery.
Warm salt water rinses (1/2 teaspoon of salt in one cup of water) may be soothing and keep the mouth moist.
Drink lots of water and use sugar-free lemon drops to increase the flow of saliva and reduce swelling. Massaging the gland with heat may help.
Most salivary gland infections go away on their own or are cured with treatment. Complications are not common, but they may occur.
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of a salivary gland infection.
Call your health care provider if you've been diagnosed with a salivary gland infection and symptoms worsen, particularly if fever increases, or there is breathing or swallowing difficulty (these may be emergency symptoms).
In many cases, salivary gland infections cannot be prevented. Good oral hygiene may prevent some cases of bacterial infection.