A salivary gland infection generally affects the glands in the mouth that produce saliva. Both viruses and bacteria can involve the salivary glands. It is important to note that a gland is susceptible to infection by bacteria once the duct releasing saliva to the mouth is blocked.
The mumps virus was previously the main cause of salivary gland infection. Luckily, most are protected against mumps by the MMR vaccine.
What are the indications?
The signs of salivary gland infection typically include:
- Swelling or inflammation of the face close to the infected gland
- Pain while eating
- Discomfort when opening the mouth
- Unusual or bad taste in the mouth
Management of salivary gland infection
An individual with salivary gland infection will not require treatment other than over-the-counter medications to alleviate the symptoms until the swelling and pain settles.
If there is a stone in the salivary gland duct, the doctor will suggest removal by pushing the stone out of the duct. A numbing medication is given to lessen the discomfort. In some instances, the stone requires surgical removal.
In case an abscess is present, it requires drainage. A numbing medication is given before opening the abscess to drain out the pus. Once drained, it relieves most of the pain.
Most cases of salivary gland infection settle a few days with treatment. Some cases of infections might recur, particularly if there is a stone that was not removed.
Some of the self-care measures include the following:
- A pain medication or antibiotic must be taken as instructed.
- Gargle with warm salt water to keep the mouth moist and eliminate the bad taste. You can prepare one by combining ½ teaspoon of salt in a cup of water.
Good oral hygiene can help prevent infections in the mouth such as regular brushing and flossing of the teeth. Cessation of smoking is also vital as well as drinking plenty of fluids daily.