About the disease
Salivary stones develop when calcified structure forms in the salivary glands. Overall, salivary gland is responsible for producing saliva and breaking the food properly, so it is transported normally to the stomach. There are three places where salivary glands are located, including both sides of the face, under the jaw bone and under the tongue. Most cases of salivary stones develop in the salivary gland located under the tongue. In some cases, stones develop in the parotid glands located on the both sides of the face. Overall, a person may have multiple salivary stones.
The process of accumulation of salivary stones can develop for a long time before first signs manifestation. Salivary stones develop when chemicals in the saliva accumulate in the salivary gland. These chemicals contain calcium, that`s why structure of the salivary gland becomes calcified.
There are multiple causes why these chemicals can accumulate in the salivary glands. In some cases, dehydration can be the cause. If a person does not drink enough fluid, harmful chemicals can accumulate in the saliva and lead to the development of stones. Also, poor dietary habits and smoking can contribute to salivary stones formation. Certain medications can also be a contributing factor if they affect the salivary gland. Previous trauma to the salivary gland can contribute to calcification in future. Most commonly, a stone does not cause any symptoms if it is of a small size. It can also resolve on its own without a person even knowing there has been calcification. In other cases, if stone is big or they are multiple, there can be following symptoms.
- Pain in the region of the salivary gland, mostly under the tongue or at the back of the mouth
- Pain when swallowing
- Improper production of the saliva
- Discomfort in the mouth
- Feeling of foul taste in the mouth
- If a stone is of a big size, a doctor may detect it during a general examination by simple palpation. A doctor will also check for the signs of inflammation.
- A blood test is used to rule out the possibility of an infection which could be causing similar symptoms.
- An ultrasound and imaging tests are used to visualize salivary stones and determine its exact location and number.
- Conservative treatment uses a course of antibiotics if the underlying cause of salivary stones was bacterial infection.
- Surgical resection is used to remove the stones. An incision is made in the mouth and then a surgeon accesses the place where the stone has accumulated.
- Lithotripsy is used to destruct the stones by using shock waves. A doctor can also use laser for the same purpose.