Salivary gland stones

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is a salivary gland stone?

A salivary gland stones is a structure which is calcified and formed inside a salivary gland or duct. When these “stones” appears, the flow of saliva into the mouth can be blocked.

The stone is often known as salivary duct calculus and mainly occurs in middle-aged adults. It’s also the most common cause of make the salivary ducts to be blocked.

The submandibular glands which are located at the floor of the mouth are commonly affected by these stones. Less commonly, the stones affect the parotid glands, located on the inside of the cheeks, or the sublingual glands, which are under the tongue. Most patients with the condition have multiple stones.

Due to salivary duct stones usually cause mouth pain, either doctors or dentists can help diagnose this condition. Although this condition rarely causes serious problems and can often be treated at home, patients may be provided medical treatment if necessary.

How common is a salivary gland stone?

This health condition is extremely common. It commonly affects more females than males. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of a salivary gland stone?

The common symptoms of salivary gland stones are:

  • As the stone forms, there isn’t any symptom. Until they reach a size that is big enough to block the duct, saliva backs up into the gland, causing pain and swelling.
  • The main symptom of salivary duct stones is pain in face, mouth, or neck especially becomes worse before or during meals. Because your salivary glands produce saliva to facilitate eating. When saliva cannot flow through a duct, it comes back and stays in the gland, causing swelling and pain.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes salivary gland stones?

The main cause is the when certain substances form in your saliva, such as calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, can crystalize and form stones. Their size can range from a few millimeters to more than two centimeters.

When these stones block your salivary ducts, saliva builds up in the glands, which makes them swell.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for salivary gland stones?

There are many risk factors for salivary gland stones, such as:

  • Taking medications, such as blood pressure drugs and antihistamines, which reduce the amount of saliva produced by your glands
  • Being dehydrated, as this makes your saliva more concentrated
  • Not eating enough food, which causes a decrease in saliva production

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are salivary gland stones diagnosed?

  • First of all, your doctor or dentist will examine your head and neck to check for swollen salivary glands and salivary duct stones.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests can provide a more accurate diagnosis because your doctor can find and see the stones, their size and location. An X-ray, ultrasound, or a computed tomography (CT) scan of your face are the some of the imaging tests that may be ordered.

How are salivary gland stones treated?

Treatment for salivary duct stones is related to the methods to get rid of the stones. Your doctor or dentist may suggest sucking on sugar-free lemon drops and drinking a lot of water. The goal is to increase saliva production and force the stone out of your duct. You may also be able move the stone by using heat and gently massaging the affected area. Steps you can take at home include:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Using sugar-free lemon drops to increase the saliva
  • Other ways to remove the stone are:
  • Massaging the gland with heat. The doctor or dentist may be able to push the stone out of the duct.
  • In some cases, you may need surgery to cut out the stone.
  • A newer treatment that uses shock waves to break the stone into small pieces is another option.
  • A new technique called Sialoendoscopy can diagnosis and treat stones in the salivary gland duct using miniature cameras and instruments
  • If stones become infected or recur often, you may need surgery to remove the salivary gland.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage salivary gland stones?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with salivary gland stones:

  • Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day
  • Massaging the salivary gland after meals to clear thickened saliva
  • Seeking effective treatment for autoimmune disorders
  • Sucking on sour candy
  • Using prescription antihistamines instead of over-the-counter versions

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 29, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

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