Your salivary glands are an incredible set of tools for the human body. Without these tiny helpers, your body would not produce the saliva which helps soften food. Salivary glands also participate in the digestion process, prevent tooth decay and keep your mouth free from germs. Oftentimes, we do not realize how important salivary glands are until they begin to experience health issues.

Your salivary glands live inside your throat and mouth. Your chief salivary glands are broken up into three separate types: the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands. All three glands produce saliva for your mouth.

The parotid produces saliva through saliva draining tubes called salivary ducts, which are close to your upper teeth. The submandibular are located under your tongue, while the sublingual are found on the bottom of your mouth. In addition to these glands, there are several minor salivary glands living within your lips, inner cheek area and mouth and throat linings.

Salivary gland disorders may inhibit your body’s ability to properly maintain the previously mentioned functions. This is why it is crucial to look for symptoms, which include a newly-formed lump or swelling around your neck, cheeks, tongue, jaw or hard palate.


You may be more susceptible to salivary gland disorders if you have:

Head and Neck Cancers
  • An autoimmune disease, such as HIV or Sjögren's syndrome
  • Continuously dry eyes
  • Constant “cotton mouth”
  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Abnormalities in your salivary duct system inside the major salivary glands

Other factors that affect your salivary glands include saliva obstructions, infections in the lymph nodes and tumors on the palate, mouth floor, cheeks, or lips.


Salivary disease treatment is divided into two groups, surgical and medical. Treatment options will depend upon the specific issue and its severity. For example, Dr. Shuaib may undergo an outpatient surgery, or simply prescribe an increased consumption of liquids and antibiotics.

If a cancerous mass within the salivary gland has formed, it may take surgery to remove it. Most masses are non-cancerous, but Dr. Shuaib will provide expert care if surgery is deemed necessary. Following surgery, radiation treatment will be advised. This is typically four to six weeks after the surgery.

Depending on the specific illness and its level of severity, other treatment options may be prescribed by Dr. Shuaib. These include:

Head and Neck Cancers
  • Staying hydrated
  • Over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to help with the pain or fever
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Antibiotics
  • Warm compress


Immunization from mumps and influenza will keep you healthy. No other specific guidelines are available for defending against salivary gland disorders. However, there are tips to stay healthy and free of salivary gland issues:

Head and Neck Cancers
  • Do not smoke
  • Incorporate more healthy food options
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water to stay hydrated
  • Good oral hygiene

If you begin to feel the onset of a lump or swelling in any area around your neck, cheeks, tongue, jaw or hard palate, you must seek professional assistance. By calling Dr. Shuaib’s office and setting up an appointment, he will be able to evaluate, diagnose and prescribe medical therapy that may alleviate your pain and discomfort.

Dr. Stefan Shuaib is one of the top head and neck surgeons in Texas and provides on-site diagnosis and treatment in the Rio Grande Valley. If you are concerned about any changes or symptoms you have been experiencing, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib by calling (956) 362-8125.