The largest gland in human body, most essential and the major are salivary glands. They secrete a major amount of saliva in our mouths. It is better if you know a little bit in detail about the salivary glands, which can help you to speak to your doctor about aspects of care and surgery treatments in case you have been diagnosed with salivary gland cancer. Through particular openings called ducts, the salivary glands empty the juice into your mouth. The main function of saliva is to help in acts of chewing and swallowing. Your throat and mouth can develop several types of infections which can be prevented by the help of saliva. Mainly there are two types of salivary glands known as the major and minor glands.
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The most essential and largest gland in human body related to saliva is the major salivary glands. The maximum amount of saliva is produced by these glands of the body itself. The sublingual glands, the submandibular glands, and the parotid glands from the major salivary glands of our system. Now, let’s talk about each of these glands in detail and know the structure of salivary gland.
The location of the parotid glands is right in front of the ears and are essentially the largest salivary glands of our body. Close to your upper second molar, there is a duct that secretes the saliva produced in the parotid glands directly into the mouth. The deep lobe and the superficial lobe are the two different parts of a parotid gland. The facial nerve lies in between these two lobes. This novel is essential for your body as it controls the ability to smile, raise your eyebrows and close your eyes.
The main blood supplier of the neck and head region is the external carotid artery which is another critical structure that lies near the parotid glands. Even a branch of the jugular vein known as the retromandibular vein lies near the gland. Parotidectomy is the surgery performed to treat a tumour in the parotid gland. This surgery requires great precision as the surgeon needs to open up and perform the surgery near the essential structure of salivary gland and veins.
Below the jaw, we have the submandibular gland, which is about the size of a walnut. There are places on the tongue from where saliva produced in these glands is secreted directly into the mouth through a duct of submandibular gland. This gland also has a deep lobe and the superficial lobe, just like the parotid gland. The marginal mandibular nerve, which helps you in smiling, is a nearby structure.
Other than that, the muscle which helps you to move your lower lip or the platysma muscle along with the lingual nerve, which allows you to feel all the sensation near your tongue, is located near these glands. A portion of your tongue that helps in swallowing and speech has restricted movements. These movements are allowed by the hypoglossal nerve, which is also located in the same region. The entire structure of salivary gland should be known to you, and nearby structures must be protected during treatment or surgery to avoid any unnecessary damage.
These are the smallest in size amongst all the major salivary glands, as the rest form amongst the largest gland in human body related to saliva. Below either side of the tongue and under the mouth floor, we have these two almond-shaped structures located. These glands are usually safe from having any tumour or cancer. Malignancy in these glands is very rare, even in the case of tumours.
Throughout the aerodigestive tract and the mouth, there are hundreds and plenty of minor Salivary Glands secreting saliva. These glands are practically invisible without a microscope, unlike the major salivary glands, which are visible. Most of them are found in the face anatomy region like the mouth palate, roof, tongue area, and lining of the lips. The other areas are inside the nose, the cheeks, the voice box or larynx, and sinuses. Tumours in these minor salivary glands are pretty rare, but they are more open to cancers than tumours. Usually, it is the roof of the mouth where the minor salivary gland cancer begins.
1. What are the salivary glands location and their significance?
The first question that we get to hear when we talk of salivary glands is what is a gland. Before understanding salivary glands, we should understand what glands are in general. Glands are organs that secrete specific substances that perform certain functions in our body. Similarly, the main function of saliva is to help a person in swallowing food and keep the throat area free from germs. The parotid glands are located in front of the ear, while the submandibular glands are located below the jaw. Again the sublingual glands are located under the mouth floor and either side of the tongue. But there are also some important veins and structures near these salivary glands which should be protected during surgery to avoid excess complications. The salivary secretion helps to clear your throat while speaking, swallowing, and other things.
2. What are the most common symptoms of salivary cancer?
People usually ask questions like where is saliva produced or what is the role of saliva in the human body. But we forget to ask what if you or someone from your family is diagnosed with salivary cancer. The first step is to identify cancer in its early stage, which is only possible if you are aware of the symptoms of salivary cancer. Lumps in the mouth, lips, jaw, or neck are the most common symptoms of salivary cancer. Lumps that continue to go bigger are the lumps due to cancer. If they come and go, then they are not due to cancer. If you are facing difficulty moving your jaw or having difficulty in swallowing or even if you are facing some facial discomfort and pain, even then, check for salivary cancer.