Specialized Care for Patients with Salivary Gland Disorders
Penn Ear, Nose and Throat offers one of the region’s only dedicated salivary gland centers. Our specialists are nationally-recognized experts in diagnosing and treating salivary gland disorders. In fact, some of the latest minimally-invasive surgical techniques for treating salivary glands were pioneered at Penn.
The Penn Medicine Advantage
Problems with the salivary glands can lead to swelling, pain, and discomfort, especially when eating and drinking. A number of conditions, such as salivary stones, strictures and tumors, as well as complications of Sjogren’s Syndrome or cancer treatment, could be the cause.
Because of the wide variety of salivary gland conditions and the importance of a correct diagnosis from the start, it’s important to find a medical professional with experience in all aspects of salivary gland disease. The Salivary Gland Center at Penn Medicine offers the full spectrum of diagnostic and treatment options for every salivary gland disorder.
When you choose our Salivary Gland Center, you’ll have access to:
- Experts in salivary gland disorders: Because Penn ENT specializes in salivary gland disorders, our doctors are experts at distinguishing between the various causes. We diagnose and treat hundreds of patients each year and offer exceptional care for even the most complex cases of inflammatory salivary gland disease and salivary gland cancers.
- Diagnostic excellence: We offer state-of-the-art salivary gland testing, including MRI, sialendoscopy (a specifically designed diagnostic tool for the salivary glands), and ultrasound imaging. If a salivary gland tumor is suspected, Penn’s Cytopathology Laboratory provides additional advanced testing.
- A team approach: Diagnosis and treatment of salivary gland disorders often require collaboration across multiple specialties. Patients have access to specialists from Penn’s dental program, ENT program, and head and neck cancer program. Penn Medicine also has the region’s only Sjögren’s Syndrome Program, which supports patients with salivary gland disease caused by the unique immune system disorder.
- The most advanced treatment options: We offer surgical and non-surgical treatment options for nearly all causes of salivary gland disorders. Minimally invasive and robotic surgical procedures can be used for many cases—even those that are complex or advanced.
We are national leaders in sialendoscopy—a minimally-invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat salivary gland disease – having trained many other surgeons nationally and internationally, and are among the preeminent researchers in the field.
For complex cases, we implement a minimally-invasive robotic surgery called TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) – invented at Penn ENT – to provide optimal precision while minimizing the effects of surgery.
- Extraordinary treatment results: We’re proud of our exceptionally high success rate, even for severe salivary gland disease and cancers. Our use of minimally-invasive procedures inhibits gland preservation, as well as fewer side effects and shorter recovery times than traditional treatments, allowing most patients to have excellent outcomes.
What Are Salivary Glands?
Salivary glands are organs inside and near the mouth that produce saliva, which moistens food to help with chewing, swallowing, and digestion. Saliva also helps to keep your mouth clean and protects teeth from decay.
There are three pairs of major salivary glands:
- Parotid glands: The largest of the salivary glands, these glands are located on the sides of the face, below the cheekbones and in front of the ears. They secrete saliva into the inside lining of the cheek.
- Submandibular glands: These glands are located below the jaw and secrete saliva into the floor of the mouth.
- Sublingual glands: These glands sit right under the tongue and are the smallest of the major salivary glands.
There are also hundreds of minor salivary glands in the lining of the cheeks, mouth, tongue, lips, nose, sinuses, and voice box.