Parotid gland – conditions

The parotid gland is located on the inner side of the jaw and is one of the three main glands responsible for secreting most of the saliva in the oral cavity.

Saliva is the fluid made up of more than 99% water found in the oral cavity and plays important roles in chewing, phonation and swallowing food.

The three main glands responsible for salivary secretion are the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands.

The structures through which saliva reaches the oral cavity are small, very fine tubes called salivary ducts.

If the flow through these ducts is reduced or blocked due to abnormal deposits of inorganic matter or infection, salivary secretion suffers.

Thus, in the case of inflammation of glandular tissue, called sialadenitis, salivary flow is reduced and bacteria can multiply.


The occurrence of sialadenitis may be related to the following conditions, physiological states or habits:

The quality of oral hygiene – in case of poor oral hygiene, bacteria colonizing the hard dental surfaces and mucous membranes can reach the glands and play a role in producing or maintaining sialadenitis.

Weakened immune system – a body whose resistance has been compromised by general illness can no longer cope with an increased bacterial influx in the same way that a healthy body can.

Age – most often, extreme ages, children and the elderly, are affected, due to underdeveloped or weakened immune systems.

Nutritional deficiencies – depriving the body of the nutritional principles essential for harmonious development can affect health.

Some medicines can lead to the development of sialadenitis.

Salivary calculi – are formed as a result of the deposition and crystallization of saliva substances, especially calcium. Salivary calculi can occur in dehydration or in some injuries and deficiencies of the body.

Another form of suffering in the parotid glands is the appearance of tumors. These can be located in one of the two lobes of the parotid glands and can take various forms.

Some tumors can occur anywhere in the salivary glands where there is glandular tissue.

Others have a predilection towards specific salivary glands. More than 75% of glandular tissue disorders involve the parotid gland and of these, more than half are found in the superficial lobe.

A benign tumor grows slowly, ranging from months to years. In evolution, although it loosens the adjacent structures, the tumor is not accompanied by pain, the nodule thus formed is soft or hard but always mobile on the underlying planes.

Facial changes occur over a long period of time, when the tumor is much enlarged. Even in this situation, pain or nerve damage is absent.

On the other hand, malignant tumors show rapid, extensive growth over weeks or months. The nodule, which is painful, is attached to the underlying structures and is no longer mobile as in benign tumors.

Signs of invasion and infiltration are also marked by the appearance of facial nerve paralysis. Patients may also present with swollen and painful loco-regional lymph nodes.

The general condition of patients is altered in malignant tumors.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.