Salivary Stone (Sialolithiasis) - Symptoms, Causes and Remedy

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Most of us have heard of kidney stones or gallbladder stones… but salivary stones? Yep, this is a medical condition, too.  

Like other types of stones, salivary stones form when calcium phosphate, magnesium, or carbonate minerals build up and form into stone-like deposits.  

Salivary Gland Stone Symptoms

When salivary stones form, they usually cause no symptoms until it’s too late and the salivary duct is blocked. At this point, you may feel tenderness in your lower jaw that gets progressively more intense especially after mealtimes.  

Some of the most common salivary stone symptoms include:  

  • Pain and swelling -

You may feel a dull pain in the submandibular salivary gland or a sore lump under your tongue which could cause your jaw, cheek or neck to swell.  

  • Dry mouth –

You may notice your mouth feeling increasingly dry, this is because your salivary ducts could be blocked by salivary stones. 

  • Difficulty swallowing –

If the salivary stone is blocking your duct completely, the salivary gland swelling may make swallowing or opening your mouth difficult.  

  • Fever and foul taste –

When your salivary glands are blocked you may develop a bacterial infection which causes fever and a foul taste in your mouth.  

Where are the Salivary Glands?

Salivary glands are located across multiple areas in the oral cavity and contain ducts through which the saliva is spread around the mouth. There are three main pairs of salivary glands in our mouth.  

The largest can be found at the back of your mouth on each side of your cheeks and are known as Parotid glands.  

The submandibular salivary glands and are found on both sides of your lower jaw and the sublingual glands are smaller and found under your tongue.  

In most cases, salivary stones form in the submandibular salivary glands. Rarely, they can also form in the parotid and sublingual glands although this tends to be less common.  

What Causes Salivary Gland Stones and What are the associated Risk Factors

The exact causes of why some people develop salivary stones are not known, however we do know that certain factors increase the risk of developing them.  

Your chances of developing salivary stones are higher if you smoke, suffer from gum disease, had a trauma inside your mouth or have a history of poor nutrition and dehydration. Men are also more likely to develop salivary stones than women and these stones are more common in advanced age.  

Blocked Salivary Stone Home Remedy

If you develop stones in salivary glands, there are ways you can manage, treat and even dislodge the salivary stone at home using everyday ingredients and over-the-counter medication. If you’re wondering how to massage out a salivary gland stone, try the following at-home salivary gland stone treatments:  

  • Sucking on citrus fruits or hard sour sweets –

Acidic fruits like lemons, limes and oranges stimulate the production of saliva which may help dislodge the stone from the blocked salivary gland. 

  • Gently massaging the area around the stone –

If you’re wondering how to remove a salivary stone yourself, follow gentle salivary gland massage techniques to help relieve pain and encourage the stone to pass through the blocked salivary gland.  

  • Drinking more water –

Regular fluid intake helps keep your mouth hydrated and well lubricated.  

  • Sucking on something cold –

Sucking on ice cubes or ice lollies can help reduce the swelling and pain. 

  • Over-the-counter medications –

NAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin can help relieve pain and bring the swelling down.    

Please note that if the pain in your swollen salivary glands doesn’t improve with these methods, you should consult a doctor.   

You can ensure that your oral hygiene is not affected while you suffer from salivary stones by brushing your teeth with a suitable electric toothbrush head and using a gentle mouthwash to freshen the breath and kill plaque.  

Salivary Stone Medical Treatments

If you can’t dislodge the salivary stone at home, book an appointment with your doctor. Doctors use both non-surgical and surgical methods to remove the blocked salivary gland stone depending on where and how deep your stone is located.  

  • Non-surgical –

your doctor may use different massage techniques to gently coax the stone out of the submandibular duct.

  • Surgical –

a small incision may be carried out using a procedure called Sialendoscopy which is a less invasive salivary stone removal operation using micro surgical instruments to remove the stone. This operation is carried out using local anaesthetic in a same-day procedure.

FAQs

What are main causes of salivary stones?

The exact causes of salivary stones are not yet known, but there are some factors that put you at higher risk of developing them. Factors include smoking, suffering from gum disease, having had a trauma in your mouth and a history of dehydration or malnutrition.  

How to push a salivary stone out?

Salivary stones can be removed at home using massaging techniques or by stimulating the production of saliva by sucking on acidic fruits. If at-home solutions fail, consult a doctor as they’ll be able to try additional massage techniques or perform a small surgical operation using local anaesthetic.  

Are salivary stones common?

Salivary stones most commonly form in adults aged 30 to 60 and usually affect the submandibular salivary glands. More rarely, the parotid and sublingual glands may be affected.  

Do salivary stones smell?

When salivary stones form, they block the salivary duct. Saliva contains enzymes like amylase which helps break down our food and also antibacterial agents which help keep your mouth healthy. Sialolithiasis can decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth which can cause a build-up of bacteria that may lead to bad breath.  

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/salivary-gland-stones-symptoms-causes-treatments 

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324421 

https://www.healthline.com/health/salivary-duct-stones