Submandibular Gland

There are three major salivary glands parotid gland, submandibular gland and sublingual gland. Submandibular gland is the second largest salivary gland among the major salivary gland. Anatomically, located in submandibular triangle of neck.

The gland is divided into two lobes depending on its relation to mylohyoid muscle, superficial lying superficial to muscle and deep lying deep to muscle. Two lobes are continuous with each other, forming ‘U’ shaped around the posterior of mylohyoid muscle. It lies partly below mandible and partly in submandibular triangle.

The submandibular gland duct is also known as Wharton’s duct, exits the gland from deep lobe, passing through the floor of mouth and opening in sublingual region.

Function of submandibular gland include lubrication and enzymatic degradation of food substances and production of harmones. Saliva is produced in glandular subunit. The saliva secreted by submandibular glands account for 70% of salivary volume. The saliva secreted by the submandibular glands is a bit thicker than that produced by other salivary glands, and can, as a result, sometimes form little stones in the salivary glands and their ducts.

When submandibular gland is affected there is swelling in submandibular region. It may be associated with pain, fever or purulent discharge into the mouth.

The swelling of submadibular gland can be due to

  • Bacterial infection which can be treated with antibiotics and analgesics.
  • Stones (most commonly present with swelling of gland due to accumulation of crystallized saliva deposits) lodged in Wharton’s duct or is large or is lodged far back in duct or in gland itself are treated by excision of gland.
  • Malignancies of submandibular glands can be treated by surgical excision of gland.

What are Salivary Glands?

Salivary Glands are the exocrine glands that produce saliva. In humans saliva contains amylase, which is an enzyme that breaks starches down into sugars.

What investigation are you likely to do?

USG to rule out any lump or stone in gland, CT scan to see if smaller stone in duct or gland and also to know the distance of stone from duct opening in mouth, MRI sialogram is also done sometimes to see any narrowing and stone using dye. FNAC can also be done to know the nature of swelling, to rule out malignancy.

Why to operate Submandibular Gland?

If the stones inside the duct did not come out, the gland may swell up while eating. Therefore stone removal is necessary, to relieve the symptoms. If stones are stuck inside the gland, the gland will become permanently swollen and painful. Therefore gland removal can be advised in some cases. In case of malignancy excision of gland is advised.

Will my mouth will be drier after gland removal?

With the removal of salivary gland secretion of saliva is reduced but other gland will produce enough saliva for avoiding dryness of mouth.

Will I be able to eat as I did before salivary gland removal?

Yes, you can eat, as you would usually after your operation. However, eating and drinking may be difficult to begin with due to pain.