Content Reviewers:Rishi Desai, MD, MPH
“Sial” refers to saliva, “aden” refers to a gland, and “itis” is inflammation, so acute sialadenitis is the sudden inflammation of any of the salivary glands, the major ones being the parotid, submandibular and sublingual gland.
Salivary glands secrete saliva through tiny ducts in the mouth, to help lubricate the inside of the mouth and also moisten and soften food.
The antibacterial properties of saliva and the quick flow through the salivary duct both help to prevent infections from developing.
But there are various factors that reduce the rate of salivary flow, like dehydration, illness, and certain medications. These factors can allow deposits to settle in the walls of the salivary duct, physically blocking the path and further slowing down the flow of saliva.
This can allow tiny areas of stagnation where more deposits of calcium, phosphorous, and other electrolytes can precipitate out, ultimately forming small concretions called microsialoliths, or tiny salivary stones.
Acute sialadenitis causes pain and swelling as well as redness of the skin overlying the affected gland.
Because the salivary gland is affected, it also means that less saliva is being made which dries out the mouth, and can cause a bad taste in the mouth from pus leaking out of the affected duct.