Saliva or spit has many important functions. It moisturizes our mouth and our food to make chewing and swallowing easier. It also does a lot of our dental work for usﾗit rinses sugar bacteria and other harmful substances out of our mouths. Salivary amylase an enzyme found in saliva triggers the digestion of starches. Saliva is produced in the salivary glands. A typical person's salivary glands produce roughly one and a half litres of saliva a day. Saliva is composed of 99% water but contains crucial minerals enzymes and antibodies. The antibodies help protect the mouth and throat from infection.
The salivary glands are subdivided into three major and several minor glands. The three major glands are bilateralﾗthat is they come in a pair. You have one of each of the three glands on each side of the face. The parotid glands the largest of the major salivary glands sit in front of and below the ears. The sublingual glands the smallest of the major salivary glands sit under the tongue. The third of the major salivary glands the submandibular glands sit on the floor of the mouth towards the posterior of the mandible. Your mouth also contains minor salivary glands throughout your lips inner cheeks and mouth and throat linings.
Salivary gland disease can occur for a number of reasons. Stones can obstruct the ducts causing saliva produced during chewing to collect in the glands with no means of expulsion. An abundance of bacteria in the mouth can also cause obstruction. Obstruction brings the threat of infection. Dehydration too is dangerous for the salivary glands. Other infections include mumps the swelling of the parotid gland and secondary infections caused by nearby infected lymph nodes. Autoimmune disorders such as HIV/AIDs and Sjorgen's disease attack the salivary glands slowing down or stopping saliva production.
Treatment of salivary gland disease depends on the cause. Treatment can include antibiotics increased fluid intake and the use of an instrument to open blocked ducts. In some cases surgery is necessary.