Salivary duct stones

Alternative names
Sialolithiasis

Definition
Salivary duct stones are crystallized minerals in the ducts that drain the salivary glands. Salivary duct stones are one of the salivary gland disorders.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
During eating, saliva (spit) is produced by the salivary glands in the mouth. The chemicals in saliva can crystallize into a stone that can block the salivary ducts. When saliva cannot exit a blocked duct, it backs up into the gland, causing pain and swelling of the gland. The submandibular glands, at the back of the mouth on both sides of the jaw, are most often affected by stones.

Symptoms

     
  • Swelling of the face or neck  
  • Pain in the face or mouth  
  • Dry mouth

The symptoms are usually most noticeable when eating or drinking.

Signs and tests
An examination of the head and neck by the health care provider or dentist shows one or more enlarged, tender salivary glands. The doctor may be able to feel the stone during examination.

Facial x-rays or a CT scan can confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment
The goal is to remove the stone. The health care provider or dentist may be able to push the stone out of the duct. In some cases, the stone may need to be surgically cut out.

Expectations (prognosis)

Salivary duct stones are uncomfortable, but not dangerous. The stone is usually removed with only minimal discomfort.

If the patient has repeated stones or infections, the affected salivary gland may need to be surgically removed.

Complications

     
  • Increased risk of salivary gland infections  
  • Recurrence of stones  
  • Discomfort

Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if symptoms indicate that salivary duct stones may be present.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Dave R. Roger, M.D.

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