What Is Sialolithiasis?
Sialoliths, more commonly known as salivary stones, are hardened mineral deposits in the salivary glands. Your salivary glands transport a liquid filled with minerals to your mouth. This saliva aids in digestion and lowers the acid levels in your mouth. Salivary stones are small deposits of calcium and other minerals that form in the ducts of the salivary gland. If these hardened deposits grow large enough, they can block the saliva flow and cause the glands to swell.
Of your three major salivary glands, 80 percent of stones form in your submandibular glands, which are located along your jawline. They can also form in your parotid and sublingual glands, as well, though it's uncommon. The size of salivary stones can vary from a few millimeters up to two centimeters, and they usually appear white or yellow in color.
What Are the Signs of Salivary Stones?
The main sign of a salivary stone includes pain in the face, neck, or mouth that increases around meals. Your salivary ducts secrete more saliva during these times to aid in digestion, and a salivary stone can block the flow and cause pain and swelling. Other secondary signs of sialolithiasis include:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Redness in the area of the duct
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Fever (if the duct becomes infected)