Redness over the side of the face or the upper neck
Swelling of the face (particularly in front of the ears, below the jaw, or on the floor of the mouth)
Signs and tests
An examination by the health care provider or dentist will show that the salivary glands are enlarged. Pus may drain into the mouth. The gland may be painful, most often if there is an infection caused by bacteria.
A CT scan or ultrasound may be done if the doctor suspects an abscess.
In some cases, no treatment is needed.
If there is pus or a fever, or if the infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be prescribed. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections.
If there is an abscess, surgery to drain it or aspiration may be done.
Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth and flossing thoroughly at least twice per day may help with healing and prevent an infection from spreading. If you are a smoker, stop smoking to help with recovery.
Warm salt water rinses (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water) may be soothing and keep the mouth moist.
Drink lots of water and use sugar-free lemon drops to increase the flow of saliva and reduce swelling. Massaging the gland with heat may help.
Most salivary gland infections go away on their own or are cured with treatment. Some infections will return. Complications are not common, but they may occur.
You've been diagnosed with a salivary gland infection and symptoms get worse, especially if your fever increases or you have breathing or swallowing difficulty (these may be emergency symptoms).
In many cases, salivary gland infections cannot be prevented. Good oral hygiene may prevent some cases of bacterial infection.
Elluru RG. Physiology of the salivary glands. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010:chap 84.
Rogers J, McCaffrey TV. Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010:chap 86.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.