Our salivary glands work hard to keep our mouths healthy and functioning properly—in fact, they produce between 0.5 and 1.5 liters of saliva every day. Saliva does more than just swirl around in our mouths. In fact, saliva contains enzymes that play an important part in breaking down food for digestion and cleaning out our teeth.
That’s why a blocked salivary gland can pose serious health risks if left untreated. When your salivary glands become obstructed, your mouth dries out and your food is left without the enzymes necessary to fully break it down. Plus, blocked salivary glands can lead to bacterial infections and nasty viruses that can cause permanent damage.
Do you have a blocked salivary gland, or want to find a blocked salivary gland home remedy? In this article, our experts go in-depth to detail everything you need to know about salivary glands, how they become obstructed, and how to use natural home remedies to treat them.
Without chemicals or pharmaceutical drugs, our remedies are proven to help clear out salivary glands and get your mouth back to running normally.
Salivary Glands 101
Salivary glands are located in the mouths of mammals such as humans and are key components of the digestive system. There are three main salivary glands located throughout the oral region, including:
The three major salivary glands are responsible for secreting saliva throughout the day and also in preparation for chewing, swallowing, and digesting food. Specifically, the parotid gland is integral in these processes because it emits amylase, a digestive enzyme necessary for the breakdown of starches.
In addition to the major salivary glands listed above, human beings also have hundreds of minor salivary glands throughout the oral cavity that serve less important roles. When diagnosed with a salivary gland blockage, the diagnosis is always about the three major salivary glands and not the minor ones.
The salivary glands have a series of small ducts that emit saliva in the form of mucous secretions. Saliva is gradually released by parasympathetic stimulation in the brain. When acetylcholine, the brain chemical responsible for parasympathetic stimulation, interacts with muscle receptors the salivary glands begin to produce an increased amount of saliva.
What Does Saliva Do
Most of us are aware of saliva’s lubricant-like quality. However, fewer are conscious of what saliva does for digestion and oral hygiene. Although saliva is, at its core, a watery substance secreted in the mouths of animals, its purpose is much more complex than it lets on.
Saliva is loaded with digestive enzymes such as amylase and lipase as well as antimicrobial agents such as lysozyme, which help break down food and ward off infections respectively. Although enzymes are needed for converting starches into sugars, they are all integral for cleaning out dental crevices and shielding teeth from harmful bacteria.
On top of its essential cleaning and digestive properties, saliva acts as a lubricant for wetting food. Without saliva, choking on food would be far more common than it is. By providing an incredibly effective aid for swallowing, saliva has saved countless lives from food becoming lodged in the airways.
How Salivary Glands Become Blocked
There are several ways in which salivary glands can become blocked or partially obstructed. Since a blockage of the salivary gland or salivary duct can inflict serious harm, it is important that readers are mindful of how these blockages develop over time. Here are some of the most common methods of salivary gland blockage.
Also known as salivary stones, sialoliths are the most common medical cause of swollen salivary glands. Salivary stones are hard, built-up deposits of crystallized saliva that sometimes obstruct the flow of saliva in the mouth. When salivary stones prevent saliva from flowing, it can cause swelling, pain, and irritation of the mouth and will eventually become infected if untreated.
Commonly referred to as salivary gland infection, sialadenitis is a simple bacterial infection of the salivary gland. This infection arises due to duct blockages in the parotid gland. Eventually, strange-tasting pus will accumulate in the mouth because of this infection.
Cysts and Tumors
Cysts and tumors can develop on or around salivary glands if injuries or infections are left untreated. Although they may be benign, it is crucial that tumors of the salivary glands are always closely supervised by medical professionals.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Another common culprit of salivary blockage is poor oral hygiene. If food particles and bacteria are left in the mouth over time, salivary stones and bacterial infections can develop which can interfere with salivary ducts.
Although uncommon, extreme dehydration can also cause salivary ducts to block. This usually occurs in hospitals where patients are being treated for electrolyte imbalances. Those who work outside in the sun or live in tropical climates need to be especially aware of this risk factor.
Remedies for Blocked Salivary Glands
The following are some of our favorite natural blocked salivary gland home remedy solutions for treating the blockage the oral infections they can cause. These remedies and treatments are free from harmful chemicals or pharmaceutical drugs and have been proven effective by successful results over many generations.
When it comes to clearing salivary stones and warding off the threat of infection, there is no better option than to load up on vitamin C and citrus fruits. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential vitamin found in many fruits, vegetables, and supplements. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant with many proven health benefits when taken daily.
Without vitamin C, the body has little chance of resisting infections and other ailments including cold and flu symptoms. When you have a surplus of vitamin C, your immune system receives a boost in vitality and can supply your body’s natural defenses with the energy it needs.
If you are curious about where to find vitamin C in your diet, a good rule of thumb is to eat more citrus foods. Citrus foods such as oranges, mangoes, and grapefruits are packed with vitamin C and other nutrients that can bolster your body’s immunity to infection.
Since dehydration is one of the main culprits of salivary blockage, it is crucial that you always drink enough water throughout the day. As a rule of thumb, you should drink no less than eight glasses of water per day, with each glass containing eight ounces of liquid. If you live or work in a hot or humid environment, drink several glasses more.
This remedy requires a fair degree of discipline. However, the benefits are tangible. This is also true of chewing food more thoroughly. If you are a speed-eater, it is important that you learn to take your time when chewing food, so your saliva can fully coat your food in digestive enzymes. Not only with this aid digestion, but it will minimize leftover food particles in your mouth as well.
Some home remedy enthusiasts swear by the benefits of warm compression massage as a blocked salivary gland home remedy. To try this remedy, place a hot towel or compression pad against the sore spot on your mouth or jaw to help alleviate pain and bring down swelling. Continue applying the pad or towel for 15 minutes and repeat several times throughout the day.
Unfortunately, many of us fail to practice basic oral hygiene. In fact, many more do not even visit their dentist every year. This is unacceptable, as it can lead to the development of preventable salivary gland blockages.
To keep your mouth healthy and clean, make sure you brush your teeth no less than twice a day, floss daily, and rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash. By doing this, you can eliminate the threat of bacterial infection and help clear out food particles before they obstruct your salivary ducts. Plus, you get a bright, beautiful smile in the process.
The taste of sourness in the mouth encourages the production of saliva. By exposing the mouth to sour foods like candy keys, you can produce more saliva to help rinse out your ducts. Regularly rinsing out your salivary ducts will prevent the buildup of particles or salivary stones and will keep swelling down.
Sucking on lemon drops is a great way to increase your saliva production throughout the day. When your mouth produces more saliva, there is a less likely chance that it will suffer from obstruction. However, lemon drops are not the only option at your disposal. Instead, you can suck on a lime or lemon slice and benefit from a healthy dose of vitamin C while you’re at it.