Salivary Glands in Tarzana

Salivary Glands - Marc Cohen M.D, Tarzana Surgeon

Salivary Glands

There are multiple salivary glands located in and around the mouth. These glands produce saliva to keep your mouth moist, aid in food digestion, and protect your teeth from decay.

There are three major salivary glands:

  • Parotid - located near the upper teeth
  • Submandibular - located in the front area of the tongue
  • Sublingual - located in the floor of the mouth

There are also hundreds of minor salivary glands located in the linings of the mouth and throat, inner cheek area, and lips, all of which secrete saliva.

Salivary gland problems

These can be caused by various factors, including:

Obstruction to saliva flow

Stones can form and block the major glands, preventing saliva from exiting the ductal system. This can significant pain and swelling of the affected gland, especially when eating. If the ducts are not completely blocked, they tend to enlarge during meals and then slowly subside afterwards, in a cycle. The pooled saliva can cause an infection that often results in more pain and swelling. If not treated, the glands can become abscessed.


Children who have not been immunized are at risk of mumps, which is one of the major causes of salivary gland infection. Infections can also arise due to the buildup of bacteria in the mouth following restricted flow of saliva. Infected lymph nodes may also lead to secondary infection of nearby glands.


Benign and malignant tumors often develop as painless enlargements of multiple glands around the mouth. Malignant tumors can be painful, and tend to limit the mobility of the affected side of the face.


Autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren's syndrome and HIV, where the white blood cells attack the salivary glands, can cause significant inflammation of the salivary glands.

Diagnosis and treatment

Dr. Cohen will perform a physical exam, review your medical history, and order various lab tests to establish the cause of your salivary gland problem. He may recommend either medical or surgical treatment depending on your situation.