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Anatomy of the cranial base
Anatomy of the external and middle ear
Anatomy of the eye
Anatomy of the infratemporal fossa
Anatomy of the inner ear
Anatomy of the nose and paranasal sinuses
Anatomy of the oral cavity
Anatomy of the orbit
Anatomy of the pterygopalatine (sphenopalatine) fossa
Anatomy of the salivary glands
Anatomy of the temporomandibular joint and muscles of mastication
Anatomy of the tongue
Bones of the cranium
Muscles of the face and scalp
Nerves and vessels of the face and scalp
Anatomy clinical correlates: Ear
Anatomy clinical correlates: Eye
Anatomy clinical correlates: Skull, face and scalp
Anatomy clinical correlates: Temporal regions, oral cavity and nose
Have you ever smelled something so good that your mouth begins to water? Well you can thank your salivary glands for this mouth-watering sensation. The salivary glands, while often overlooked, are a key part of our digestive system.
There are three main pairs of salivary glands: the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. There are also a few smaller companions called accessory salivary glands, which are sprinkled over the palate, lips, cheeks, tonsils, and tongue.
When it comes to function, salivary glands secrete saliva into the oral cavity. Saliva, as you may know, is a clear, tasteless, and odorless fluid that keeps the mouth’s mucosa hydrated.
Saliva also helps lubricate food while we chew, making swallowing easier, and it also starts the digestion of starch, because it contains an enzyme called amylase.
Saliva also acts as ‘nature’s mouthwash’, since it’s rich in antimicrobial compounds such as hydrogen peroxide to keep our mouths clean. Accessory salivary glands have a similar role, except they tend to secrete less saliva.
The parotid glands are the largest of the three paired salivary glands. Superficially, each parotid gland is triangular in shape, where it sits upon the masseter muscle.
However, most of the parotid gland actually sits in the retromandibular fossa, anteroinferior to the external acoustic meatus, where it is wedged between the the ramus of the mandible and the mastoid process and sternocleidomastoid muscle posteriorly.
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