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Salivary duct stones

Sialolithiasis; Salivary calculi

Salivary duct stones are deposits of minerals in the ducts that drain the salivary glands. Salivary duct stones are a type of salivary gland disorder.

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Head and neck glands

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Causes

Spit (saliva) is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. The chemicals in saliva can form a hard crystal that can block the salivary ducts.

When saliva cannot exit a blocked duct, it backs up into the gland. This may cause pain and swelling of the gland.

There are three pairs of major salivary glands:

Salivary stones most often affect the submandibular glands. They can also affect the parotid glands.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

The symptoms occur most often when eating or drinking.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider or dentist will do an exam of your head and neck to look for one or more enlarged, tender salivary glands. The provider may be able to find the stone during the exam by feeling under your tongue.

Tests such as x-rays, ultrasound, MRI scan or CT scan of the face are used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

The goal is to remove the stone.

Steps you can take at home include:

Other ways to remove the stone are:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most of the time, salivary duct stones cause only pain or discomfort, and at times become infected.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have symptoms of salivary duct stones.

Related Information

Salivary gland infections

References

Elluru RG. Physiology of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 83.

Jackson NM, Mitchell JL, Walvekar RR. Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 85.

Miller-Thomas M. Diagnostic imaging and fine-needle aspiration of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 84.

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Review Date: 8/12/2019  

Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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