Salivary gland infections affect the glands that produce spit (saliva). The infection may be due to bacteria or viruses.
There are 3 pairs of major salivary glands:
All of the salivary glands empty saliva into the mouth. The saliva enters the mouth through ducts that open into the mouth in different places.
Salivary gland infections are somewhat common, and they can return in some people.
Viral infections such as mumps often affect the salivary glands. (Mumps most often involves the parotid salivary gland). Mumps is a rare problem today because of the MMR vaccine.
Bacterial infections are most often the result of a:
Your health care provider or dentist will do an exam to look for enlarged glands. You may also have pus that drains into the mouth. The gland is most often painful.
A CT scan, MRI scan or ultrasound may be done if the doctor suspects an abscess or to look for stones.
In some cases, no treatment is needed.
Treatment from your provider may include:
Self-care steps you can take at home to help with recovery include:
Most salivary gland infections go away on their own or are cured with treatment. Some infections will return. Complications are not common.
Call your provider if:
In many cases, salivary gland infections cannot be prevented. Good oral hygiene may prevent some cases of bacterial infection.
Elluru RG. Physiology of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 83.
Jackson NM, Mitchell JL, Walvekar RR. Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 85.
Last reviewed on: 8/5/2015
Reviewed by: Sumana Jothi MD, specialist in laryngology, Clinical Instructor UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.