Many people have heard of kidney stones or gallstones, but not many have heard of salivary gland stones. Salivary gland stones, called sialolithiasis, is when a stone forms in one of your salivary glands, the glands which make saliva. Stones are most commonly found in the submandibular gland, which is underneath your jaw, and parotid gland, which is at the angle of your jawbone.
When the stone is small, it can either pass out the duct of the gland or block the duct entirely. When the stone is very big, as is seen in the picture above, it can’t pass out of the gland and causes chronic problems, such pain and swelling of the face, pain and swelling underneath the jaw, frequent infections of the gland, and even abscesses.
What causes these stones to form? It is frequently associated with chronic bacterial infection of the glands, chronic dehydration (lots of caffeine or coffee intake), Sjögren’s syndrome, or increased local levels of calcium, but in many cases we don’t know exactly why they form.
Pain usually originates from the floor of the mouth, although in many cases the stones cause only intermittent swelling. Symptoms tend to increase during meals, when food stimulates the salivary glands to make saliva. A palpable lump or visible swelling in the area of the gland is often noted.
Small stones can sometimes be removed with a new procedure called sialoendoscopy in the office. Large stones often can’t be fixed this way and require the whole gland to be removed in a simple, outpatient procedure (pictured above). Removing the gland resolves the problem and the patient feels much better.
If you’re interested in learning more about allergy and sinus treatment options from Dr. Franzese and her team of specialists please call her office directly at (757) 889-5632.
About Dr. Christine Franzese
Christine Franzese, MD, FAAOA, is a board certified otolaryngologist. She completed a residency in Otolaryngology at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Franzese’s specialties include: allergies and allergy shots, sinus problems (acute and chronic), mild asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid masses or nodules, salivary gland disorders and nodules, and pediatric ENT issues (ear infections, tonsillitis). She has surgical expertise with removing tonsils and adenoids, thyroidectomies, parathyroidectomies, parotidectomies, and has extensive experience with sinus surgeries. She offers functional endoscopic sinus surgery, image-guided sinus surgery, and balloon sinuplasty procedures.