Salivary glands


The salivary glands  are an extension of the exocrine system, since they secrete fluids that the body needs for its full development.


What are the salivary glands?

These glands are found in the upper digestive system and produce saliva, after it is secreted it empties into the oral cavity , this substance is a colorless liquid with a versatile consistency, sometimes it can be watery and extremely liquid and other times it can be thick , almost mucous; saliva contains proteins , glycoproteins , carbohydrates, electrolytes, desquamated epithelial cells, and leukocytes. The amount of saliva that they excrete in 24 hours can vary, however, it is around 1000 milliliters and 1500 milliliters.

  • Function
  • What are the salivary glands
  • features
  • Types of salivary glands
  • Location
  • Inflammation
  • Other pathologies
  • Care
  • Importance of the salivary glands


When the glands secrete saliva , the digestion procedure begins , just with the simple fact that the saliva moistens the food that is introduced into the oral cavity, in this way not only does the digestion process begin, but this salivary fluid helps with the manipulation of food in the mouth, to make it easier to chew and facilitate the moment of swallowing .


In addition to this, it maintains the humidity of the oral mucosa in order to avoid dryness on the oral walls, in the oral roof and on the tongue.

What are the salivary glands

Parotid gland

This is the most voluminous gland, it is located under the zygomatic arch, in front of the mastoid process and behind the ramus of the mandible , it connects directly and indirectly with the facial nerve, the secretion of this gland is of the serous type, which it means that it is fluid, almost liquid.

In general , a healthy parotid gland must have a slight opaque yellow color, its shape is like that of a small lobe that has three faces, the anterior, the lateral and the posterior, it also has two lower and upper extremities, Its weight varies according to the individual, however, it is estimated to be around 25 grams.

It is mainly related to its proximity to the external carotid, which runs throughout its length, from bottom to top with the superficial, temporal and maxillary terminals, the retro mandibular vein enters this group of organs that is in contact with it. gland as it is formed in its upper extremity by the vein that joins the superficial temporal and maxillary . Two nerves do not accompany the parotid by surrounding it, but cut across the path to reach their goal, which are the temporal atrium nerve and the facial nerve.

Sub-mandibular gland

This is located in the depression that is found between the mandible on its external side and the suprahyoid muscles , in the same way it accompanies the muscles of the base of the tongue on the inside, therefore, it is contained in the subcellular cell. mandibular, which could be said to be an osteo-facial muscle compartment respectively, the gland adopts the shape of the cell, having as a consequence that it has three faces and three edges, being the deep medial, supero-lateral and infero-lateral faces and the three top, side, and bottom edges.

It is related to the hypoglossal nerve in some way, with the lingual vein, the facial artery, the mylohyoid and hyoglossus muscle, entering the hyoglossus together with the lingual artery, of these both an individual prolongation is created with a length of approximately 20 millimeters , thus remaining between the hyoglossus and mylohyoid muscles , thus achieving direct contact with another salivary gland called the sublingual gland.

Sublingual glands

These are the most hidden of the major salivary glands , they are located on the floor of the mouth, inside the jaw and on the sides of the mental spine; This gland is the smallest of the group, being elongated and extremely flattened transversely, approximately its axis has a measurement of 25 to 30 millimeters and its height is 10 to 12 millimeters, it has a thickness of 6 to 8 millimeters and has an average weight of 3 grams.

Unlike the previous glands, it is not held captive by any cell, nor does it adopt its shape, therefore it is in direct contact with the tissue and does not have a relationship or contact with any relevant vein or nerve.

Buccal mucosa

Although it is not a specific major gland , they are small glands distributed in the form of studs that moisten the oral surfaces, lubricating them by secreting a fluid with a mucous texture.

Minor salivary glands

These are tiny and come in large numbers, they are located in the various organs of the mouth except the gums and the anterior part of the palate , they are distinguished by being labial , genian or vestibular , although these are the ones that cause the least secretion of saliva, They are the ones that frequently keep the oral cavity moisturized and help to keep it infection-free.


The main characteristics of the salivary glands are:

  • They secrete a pseudo-clear fluid that can be watery or thick and mucous.
  • It is divided into major glands and minor glands.
  • Helps digestion.
  • Its secretion prevents oral infections and any type of disease.
  • Keeps the mouth moisturized.
  • They are part of the exocrine glands , therefore they complement the exocrine system .

Types of salivary glands

The different types of glands support their study or diagnosis in case of a disease. These are :

  • Major salivary glands: these are found in the proximity of the oral cavity, following an open curve, the major salivary glands are the parotid, the sublingual and the sub-mandibular.
  • Minor salivary glands: these are located on the surface of the oral cavity, that is, the walls, the sky and other structures of the mouth.
  • Labial salivary glands: by their name it can be distinguished that they are located between the lips, forming a plane in the muscular layer of each lip, being in this way tight with each other.
  • Buccal salivary glands: they are found throughout the entire thickness and thickness of the buccal muscle in the external part, the ducts of these perforate the muscle and open in the vestibule.
  • Palatine salivary glands: these are located in the palatal vault, on both sides of the median line found in the mouth, just between the mucosa and the periosteum , they form a type of constant, continuous and thick mass.
  • Lingual salivary glands: these are located around the tongue and throughout its extension, they are grouped in it topographically by the foliated and foliated papillae, on the back of the tongue and on the lingual vertex.


  • Parotid gland: it is located under the zygomatic arch, in front of the mastoid process and behind the ramus of the mandible, it connects directly and indirectly with the facial nerve
  • Sub-mandibular gland: located between the mandible on its external side and the suprahyoid muscles, thus accompanying the muscles of the base of the tongue on the inside, therefore, it is contained in the sub-mandibular cell.
  • Sublingual gland: they are located on the floor of the mouth, inside the jaw and to the sides of the mental spine; this gland is the smallest of the group, being elongated and highly flattened transversely.
  • Minor salivary glands: these are located on the surface of the oral cavity, that is, the walls, the sky and other structures of the mouth.
  • The buccal mucosa: they are small glands distributed in the form of studs around the mouth.


Inflammations in the salivary glands cause the secretion of saliva to cease in large quantities, decreasing its production, thus causing the entire structure of the mouth to dry out, this can cause secondary infections, cavities and stuttering, in turn, the individual who suffers from the inflammation of these glands will not be able to eat as easily as he often does and sometimes it even becomes essential and necessary to use a substitute for saliva.

Other pathologies

  • Salivary gland dysfunction.
  • Salivary gland infection.
  • Tumors
  • Salivary lithiasis.
  • Salivary stones.
  • Obstruction.


Keeping the salivary glands healthy does not have much complexity, keeping the mouth clean and hygiene are essential for this, rinsing the mouth with water before meals and brushing after each meal is essential. Taking the necessary amount of liquid daily is essential, it is recommended that each person carry a bottle of water wherever they go, since the vital liquid is of the utmost importance, avoid foods high in fat that can stick to the mouth walls, such as butter or bread.

Chewing food well and with parsimony is one of the recommendations that are generally given and sucking hard candies that do not contain sugar, to stimulate the secretion of saliva.

Importance of the salivary glands

Without the secretion of the salivary glands, the infections of which the subjects would be victims would be too many, in addition to this, the oral cavity is the place with the most bacteria in the human anatomy, so these glands and their operation are constantly cleaning and sanitizing with their secretions, however, if the subjects do not contribute to the glands , taking into account the recommendations given, they could suffer from any type of pathology in that area.

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