The salivary glands are generally considered as comprising two major groups: the parotid and the submandibular. The facial nerve passes through the superficial portion of the parotid gland. The parotid (Stenson) duct opens into the mouth opposite the upper second molar.
The submandibular and sublingual glands lie beneath the tongue. The submandibular ducts open into the mouth at either side of the frenulum of the tongue. The multiple sublingual ducts open into the sublingual fold or directly into the submandibular duct.
Disorders of the salivary glands may have inflammatory, neoplastic, immunologic, or traumatic causes. Only the most common disorders are discussed below. It is important to determine which glands are involved; whether single or multiple glands are affected; whether there is pain, tenderness, or a palpable mass; the acuity of symptoms and their precipitants, whether symptoms are persistent or recurrent; and whether associated problems such as dry mouth or eyes, joint symptoms, or diabetes are present.
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