Salivary gland lithiasis

Salivary gland lithiasis, also known as salivary calculi or sialolithiasis, is a condition characterized by the formation of hard deposits in the salivary glands.

The submandibular gland is the one most commonly affected by this condition. Salivary gland lithiasis can cause blockage of salivary flow and inflammation of the gland, manifested by symptoms such as severe pain and infection.

This article discusses the causes, symptoms and treatment options for salivary gland lithiasis.

Salivary glands play a vital role in the production and secretion of saliva, which has multiple important functions in the body. There are three major glands that secrete the bulk of saliva: the parotid, submandibular and sublingual.

They are found in the face and throat region and the saliva resulting from stimulation reaches the oral cavity via excretory ducts.

The normal functioning of the salivary glands results in the secretion of saliva adjusted according to need.

Roles of saliva

Combating cavities- saliva mechanically removes deposits left over from eating and then forms a protective film. It is like a varnish that coats dental surfaces to protect them from acid and bacterial attack.

Digestion – its role in carrying out the first stage of digestion is well known. During meals, an increased amount of saliva is secreted, precisely to allow the food bowl to form and become salivated, making it easier to slide down to the lower stages of the digestive system, represented by the pharynx, esophagus and stomach.

Swallowing – an act also known to patients as swallowing, is facilitated both by the presence of saliva, which creates a moist environment, and by its viscous consistency, which forms a protective film on the oral mucosa.

The three major salivary glands – parotid, submandibular and sublingual – secrete saliva into the oral cavity through excretory ducts. Normal functioning of the salivary glands is essential for maintaining oral health and the digestion process.

Fights tooth decay by mechanically removing food debris and forming a protective film on tooth surfaces.

Initial digestion of food by salivation and food bowl formation, facilitating the swallowing process and passage of food through the digestive tract.

Swallowing, by creating a moist environment and forming a protective film on the oral mucosa.

Salivary gland lithiasis Salivary gland lithiasis refers to the formation of salivary stones or stones in the salivary glands.

These stones are composed of carbonates, oxalates and calcium phosphates and have a hard consistency. The submandibular gland is the most affected by this condition.


Causes of salivary gland lithiasis the formation of salivary stones can be caused by several factors, including:

Prolonged dehydration, in which saliva becomes more viscous and the concentration of calcium salts increases, favoring stone formation.

General pathologies and associated treatments, such as kidney pathology and the use of certain medications such as antihistamines and antihypertensives.

Trauma to the salivary glands, caused by accidents or surgery, which can disrupt salivary flow and lead to inflammation or stone formation.


Symptoms of salivary gland lithiasis Initially, salivary stone formation may be asymptomatic. However, as the stones develop and increase in size, noticeable symptoms may appear, such as:

Intense pain:

Salivary calculi block the normal flow of saliva through the excretory ducts, which can cause a sharp, deep pain in the affected gland area. The pain can be triggered by eating food or stimulating salivary secretion, and its intensity can vary.

Swelling and tenderness of the gland:

Inflammation of the salivary gland can lead to swelling of the affected area, which can be painful to the touch.

Reduced salivary secretion: Blockage of salivary flow can cause a decrease in the amount of saliva produced and secreted.

Infections: Saliva stagnation in the gland can favor the development of bacterial infections, causing additional symptoms such as fever, swelling and pain on swallowing.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Diagnosis of salivary gland lithiasis usually involves a clinical evaluation, patient medical history and physical examination. In addition, imaging investigations, such as X-ray or ultrasound, may be used to identify and locate salivary stones.

Treatment options for salivary gland lithiasis may include:

Hydration and dietary changes:

Adequate water intake and maintaining proper hydration can help reduce saliva viscosity and prevent stones from forming. Dietary changes may also be recommended, such as avoiding foods that stimulate excessive saliva production.


In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help dissolve salivary stones or reduce inflammation of the gland.

Techniques to stimulate salivary flow:

Massaging the affected gland or using topical heating can help stimulate salivary flow and release the stones.

Stone removal procedures: In severe or persistent cases, minimally invasive procedures or surgery may be needed to remove salivary stones. These may include extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, sialography or even surgical removal of the affected gland.

Regular visits to your dentist for professional evaluation and cleaning of your teeth and salivary glands.

The salivary glands of the human body are numerous and have the primary role, as the name suggests, of secreting saliva.

Salivary gland lithiasis is also known as salivary calculi or sialolithiasis. Of the glands most often affected by this condition, the submandibular gland is the most common.

Calculi are made up of carbonates, oxalates and calcium phosphates and are therefore hard in consistency. In their evolution, they block the transit of saliva through the ducts and lead to inflammation of the gland, a situation that generates a marked symptomatology.

The deposition and crystallization of substances that enter the saliva with the imminent formation of calculi can have several causes, such as:

Dehydration – when the body is deprived of water, e.g. in a feverish state, during intense exertion or following a deficit in fluid intake, the body may react by forming stones.

Dehydration has to be maintained for a relatively long period of time for stones to form. Initially, the saliva becomes thicker, more viscous and then calcium salts build up and block the salivary flow.

Some general pathologies and the treatments followed – renal pathology, the exponent of which is urinary incontinence is treated with classes of drugs that can have adverse effects on saliva production.

Antihistamines used by allergy sufferers, antihypertensives taken by patients with high blood pressure may play a role in the production of salivary lithiasis.

Trauma to the salivary glands – whether trauma resulting from accidents or iatrogenesis during surgery, salivary flow suffers and the glandular parenchyma or secretory ducts may become inflamed or develop stones.

Calculi are more commonly found in the ducts than in the gland itself.

The process of stone formation is asymptomatic, but when the stones become large, they cause colic, an intense, deep pain that subsides when a quantity of saliva is released.

If left untreated, this can lead to saliva stagnation, followed by infection.


Prevention of salivary gland lithiasis to prevent the formation of salivary stones, it is recommended:

Maintain adequate hydration by drinking enough water.

Avoiding prolonged dehydration and periods of post-negligence of fluid intake.

Avoiding excessive consumption of foods that may stimulate excessive saliva production.

Maintain proper oral hygiene by regular brushing and flossing.


Salivary gland lithiasis is a condition that can cause unpleasant symptoms and complications in the normal functioning of the salivary glands.

It is important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms associated with this condition and to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. By maintaining adequate hydration and adopting a healthy lifestyle, the risk of salivary stone formation can be reduced and salivary gland health can be maintained.

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