Parotid Surgery

Salivary Gland Problems

Your salivary glands make as much as a quart of saliva each day. Saliva is important to lubricate your mouth, help with swallowing, protect your teeth against bacteria, and aid in the digestion of food. The three major pairs of salivary glands are:

  • parotid glands on the insides of the cheeks
  • submandibular glands at the floor of the mouth
  • sublingual glands under the tongue

There are also several hundred minor salivary glands throughout the mouth and throat. Saliva drains into the mouth through small tubes called ducts. When there is a problem with the salivary glands or ducts, you may have symptoms such as salivary gland swelling, dry mouth, pain, fever, and foul-tasting drainage into the mouth.

Salivary stones, or sialoliths. The most common cause of swollen salivary glands, salivary stones are buildups of crystallized saliva deposits. Sometimes salivary stones can block the flow of saliva. When saliva can’t exit through the ducts, it backs up into the gland, causing pain and swelling. Pain is usually off and on, is felt in one gland, and gets progressively worse. Unless the blockage is cleared, the gland is likely to become infected.

Salivary gland infection, or sialadenitis. Bacterial infection of the salivary gland, most commonly the parotid gland, may result when the duct into the mouth is blocked. Sialadenitis creates a painful lump in the gland, and foul-tasting pus drains into the mouth.

Sialadenitis is more common in older adults with salivary stones, but it can also happen in babies during the first few weeks after birth. If not treated, salivary gland infections can cause severe pain, high fevers, and abscess (pus collection).

Tumors. Several different types of tumors can affect the salivary glands. They can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). The two most common tumors are pleomorphic adenomas and Warthin’s tumor.

Pleomorphic adenomas most commonly affect the parotid glands, but can also affect the submandibular gland and minor salivary glands. The tumor is usually painless and grows slowly. Pleomorphic adenomas are benign (noncancerous) and are more common in women than men.

Warthin’s tumor is also benign and affects the parotid gland. Warthin’s tumor can grow on both sides of the face and affects more men than women.

While most salivary gland tumors are benign, some can be cancerous. Malignant tumors include mucoepidermoid carcinoma, adenocystic carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, low-grade polymorphous adenocarcinoma, and malignant mixed tumor.


Dr. Tamez of Tejas Ear, Nose and Throat is a very experienced Head and Neck Surgeon. His objective is to make the most cosmetically inconspicuous scar while maintaining the highest level of pathologically confirm tumor and cancer removal . He performs minimally invasive (mini)/ facelift Parotidectomy incisions because that is what he would want for his loved ones . His meticulousness also allows him to preserve the fine twig of nerves which innervate the ear( branched of the greater auricular nerve) to preserve sensation to the ear in the vast majority of his parotid surgeries. It is all about the detail for Dr Tamez. Make an appointment to discuss your case with Dr. Tamez.