How to Squeeze Out a Salivary Gland Stone
Maintaining good oral health is essential for the body's overall well-being. In part, this is because of its vulnerability to viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. It is also a good signifier of overall health. Our mucus membranes in the gums and oral tissues can react if we have a systemic problem or even a problem elsewhere in the body. One disease which affects the mouth specifically is sialolithiasis, also known as salivary stones. This is due to the appearance of hard mineral deposits on the salivary glands of the mouth.
We look at the causes, symptoms and treatment of sialolithiasis at oneHOWTO. Specifically, we look at methods of removing these mineral deposits by showing you how to squeeze out a salivary gland stone. We also look at other methods of their removal.
What is a salivary gland stone?
Sialolithiasis is the presence of mineral deposits or stones which occur in the salivary ducts of the mouth. Although they can occur in any salivary gland, they occur most frequently in the submandibular duct, also known as the Wharton's duct. These stones are known as sialoliths and can block the ducts, causing salivary gland swelling and pain.
Although sialolithiasis is common in the submandibular glands, lead to the development of a swollen parotid gland. To a lesser extent, the stone can appear in the sublingual and minor glands.
These stones can form through the mineralization of foreign bodies, bacteria and organic debris. Normally, they are made up of two different components:
- Inorganic: the inorganic elements are made up of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium phosphate, ammonium and carbonate
- Organic: the organic part is made up of amino acids and carbohydrates.
Diagnosis of stones in the salivary glands
You will have to go to a medical doctor for diagnosis of salivary gland stones. This diagnosis will be carried out by a physical oral examination and assessing the patient's medical history. If a confirmation is not made, a subsequent ultrasound may be carried out. A stone may be discovered upon palpitation of the salivary gland, especially if the stone is located in the distal part of submandibular duct.
Sometimes, it is necessary to do complementary tests to detect stones in the salivary glands. These may include a CT scan, an X-ray, an MRI or a sialography, i.e. an intraglandular contrast injection.
We recommend that you get to know these glands a little better by reading our related article on the three salivary glands in humans and their functions.
Causes of stones in the salivary glands
Although the exact cause of the formation of stones or sialoliths in the salivary glands is still unknown, a series of related factors can be determined. They include the following:
- Accumulation of chemical substances in salivary deposits (calcium is one of the most common)
- Changes in blood pressure
- The use of certain medications (e.g. antihistamines)
- Poor oral hygiene
Learn more about proper oral hygiene with our article on how to clean between your teeth.
Symptoms of salivary gland stones
Stones that block the flow of saliva from the salivary glands cause pain and inflammation. These two symptoms, can subside after a matter of hours, before returning. It is important to note that some stones cause intermittent symptoms, but may even be asymptomatic. It is essential to undergo regular medical check-ups to monitor the condition of the mouth and salivary glands. If you suffer from this oral health problem, you will notice it especially after eating, as this is the time when salivary flow is most stimulated.
In cases where there is a complete obstruction of the salivary glands due to the appearance of stones, the glands react by increasing in size. When this occurs, they cause intense pain on palpation. In severe cases, fever can appear due to a bacterial superinfection of the glands. This is known as acute bacterial sialadenitis.
How to squeeze out a salivary gland stone
Below we will show the treatment of salivary stones, but first it is important to reinforce that it should first be diagnosed by a doctor. They will then be able to determine the right treatment options and administer treatment themselves when necessary.
You can treat small salivary gland stones at home. This will be done with an approach known as conservative treatment:
- Hydration: dry mouth and dehydration, are both symptoms of salivary gland stones and can exacerbate them further. For this reason, it is important to ensure you are properly hydrated.
- Eating mouthwatering food: citrus is particularly good at stimulating the salivary glands. Fresh citrus or a sugar-free candy will help to increase salivation which may even be enough to allow small stones to flow.
- Gland massage: when used in combination with the previous elements, you can squeeze out small sialolithiasis stone by gently massaging the salivary gland.
- Warm compress: using a warm compress of a clean face towel with warm water will help to remove the stones. Apply to the exterior of the gland, but do not use water which is hot enough to burn.
To massage your salivary glands, you will need to slowly apply gentle pressure to the gland in the direction of the movement of saliva. This will differ depending on the type of gland:
- Submandibular gland: use your first and forefinger to put gentle pressure starting from the beginning of the jawbone (where it meets your beck). Move it forward towards your chin. Do this on both sides for 1-2 minutes, 2-3 times per day.
- Parotid gland: using the same fingers start in the same position at the beginning of the jawbone, but this time move up to the top of the cheek, continue the massage forward along the cheek and stop at the corner of the lip. Do this on both sides at the same time for 1-2 minutes, 2-3 times per day.
What happens if I cannot squeeze out a salivary gland stone?
In some cases the salivary stone may be too large or lodged in the duct so it will not pass by squeezing out with massage. If this is the case, it is advised you not try any further treatment at home. There are nerves in the salivary glands which can cause you a lot of pain and there is always the risk of secondary infection. For this reason, you should go to a doctor who may perform one of the following:
- Ultrasound: an ultrasound applied locally to the gland itself may be sufficient to break down the stone without damaging the surrounding tissue. The smaller pieces may be able to pass naturally.
- Sialoendoscopy: this is an endoscopy which is used on the gland's ducts. Once the stone is discovered with the endoscope, wire baskets can be used to grab the stones and remove them.
- Incision: if the stones are right at the edge of the gland, a small incision may be sufficient to have access for their removal. Stones further in will require endoscopic removal.
- Surgery: a deeper surgery may be performed.
In the past, it was more common for severe cases of salivary stones to require the removal of the entire gland. Since this will affect eating and digestion, fortunately this is no longer the case. Only the very worst cases will require removal of the gland and these are only a very small percentage of total cases.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Squeeze Out a Salivary Gland Stone, we recommend you visit our Family health category.