Since autoimmune diseases are listed as a possible risk factor for salivary duct stone formation, one might think this little bit of trivia would be better known.

Just as stones can form in the kidneys and gallbladder, they can also form in the salivary ducts.  The stones themselves don’t hurt.  It’s when they’re big enough to block the ducts that there’s a problem.

Blocked ducts create an annoying lump that can become larger at mealtimes (because saliva flows when you eat, but can’t get out so backs up behind the blockage in the duct).  Fortunately, the lump gets smaller again after the meal is over.

Over time, blocked ducts can become infected, so they shouldn’t be ignored.  The question is, who will take care of one?  I don’t know, but you can cross my rheumatologist and my dentist of the list of possibilities.  When I finally get an answer, I’ll post it here.  (Edit to add: blocked salivary ducts are treated by an ENT)

Sometimes blocked ducts can be milked to force the stone out.  Exactly how that takes place in a confined space isn’t clear, since there’s no room for multiple fingers to try squeezing anything under the tongue.

One recommendation in trying to dislodge a stone is to drink extra fluids.  Dehydration thickens the saliva and can be a risk factor for stone formation, and thinning it out again can help get things flowing again.  Sucking on citrus fruits to stimulate saliva production is also supposed to help.

If all else fails, at least you’ve added another cool word to your vocabulary.

SIGH a lo li THIGH a sis

For further reading:

Salivary Gland Disorders
Salivary Duct Stones
Salivary Glands
Salivary Gland Diseases & Tumors


8 thoughts on “Sialolithiasis

  1. Great information as always. A lightbulb went off when I read this, this was one of my early symptoms years before official diagnosis. I thought it was a strange thing that would come and go, but now I know why!Thanks!

  2. Quite a few years ago I had problems with a salivary gland in my lower lip. It would swell up and then go back down. It started to give me a lot of trouble and I finally had to see an oral surgeon to have it removed. At the time I was told that I had damaged it somehow, possibly by biting my lip. Now I wonder if it was RA related.

  3. You know, I’m always amazed at what I learn from you. It’s unfortunate that so much of it is from first-hand experience. Hang in there.

  4. I have had tons of issues with mine. My Ent taught me how to squeeze out the gunk. Gross but effective. Also sour things are supposed to help stimulate saliva and help it clear up. Otherwise there is surgery butthat is an absolute last resort.

  5. Warmsocks–last year one of mine got blocked, infected and then caused my lymph nodes on that side to get hugely swollen. It took 2 rounds of antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Like you, my dentist was little help, but my gp had another patient with a similar problem and worked with me until we resolved it. Lots of hard candy (lemon drops esp) to help empty the gland plus hot, moist compresses on the outside of my cheek and massaging it from the outside. Extra liquids. I changed my toothpaste and added the Biotene mouthwash to keep my mouth extra moist. Mine finally resolved, but it will still swell occasionally. They can be surgically removed if they don’t resolve any other way–Good luck! It seems, at times, if it’s not one thing, it’s another!

  6. Thank you. I’ve been consuming extra citrus fruits for the past few days and drinking extra water (and oj). If you’re ever tempted to sterilize tweezer and use them to try squeezing stuff out of a lump, I DON’T recommend that! :p

    This morning when I awoke, my neck was all swollen like the mumps so made an appt to see my doctor tomorrow (too busy today). Now the swelling is down and the lump is much smaller so I’m wishing I hadn’t made the appointment. Guess I’ll know what to do if it ever happens again.

  7. hi everyone – i also had a blocked salivary gland – with a stone in it – on my upper lip. I noticed it about two years ago when it was very small. Over time, it grew to be very noticable. I asked my doctor about it and she told me that i would have to go to a specialist and have it cut out and that it would only get bigger over time.

    I did some research and discovered that you should put heat on it. I did this for about two months with a heating pad for a period of 30 to 40 minutes at a time. I did this about two to three times a week. At first it started to get crusty, so i knew that something was happening. Over time, layers would peal off and ofter two months, the stone just pushed it self out! Amazing – so much for doctors.

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