Salivary Gland Infection Treatments
Salivary gland infection treatments vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of symptoms. Some cases of infection or inflammation may clear up over a couple of weeks with home remedies. A course of home treatment might include:
- Staying well hydrated and practicing good oral hygiene with brushing and flossing
- Using saltwater to rinse your mouth several times per day
- Placing a warm compress on the swollen area of your face for 15-20 minutes at a stretch several times throughout the day
- Gently massaging the salivary glands (upward for those under the jaw and downward for those in the cheeks)
- Sucking on sour, sugar free lemon drops or other tart candy to stimulate the salivary glands
- Stopping tobacco use (it contributes to dry mouth)
- Getting plenty of rest and taking a fever-reducing medication like Tylenol if your salivary gland infection coincides with a case of the flu
Keep in mind that the infected salivary gland treatments above are designed only for very mild cases. Seek medical attention right away if swelling becomes worse, if your fever starts rising, or if you have any trouble breathing or swallowing. Delaying treatment can lead to serious complications.
Medical Salivary Gland Infection Treatments
Your physician or dentist will take a medical history and ask you about your symptoms to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. If you have swelling in the glands in both cheeks and have not received the mumps vaccine, there’s a possibility that you have this virus. Treatment for mumps may include IV fluids to address severe dehydration and oral medications to reduce fever and pain. Other than that, you’ll likely just need to rest for about 10 days. The infection will run its course and your salivary glands should return to normal.
If the swelling is only on one side, the cause is probably bacterial. It may or may not be related to a blocked duct. Your doctor may need to run additional tests to determine the best course of treatment. A blood test with an elevated white blood cell count often indicates a bacterial infection. You may also need x-rays to find out if the duct is blocked by a salivary stone (a bit of crystallized mineral much like a gallstone). More expensive and invasive tests are usually reserved for severe cases or those that don’t respond to traditional treatments. These tests may include a CT scan to see if there is an abscess, tumor or cyst. If a suspicious mass is found, it may be biopsied.
There are a number of different bacteria including staph and strep that can attack the salivary glands. So, treatment for bacterial infection usually starts with a wide-spectrum antibiotic like clindamycin. You may get a shot followed by oral antibiotics or just a course of oral medications to take at home. These drugs kick in quickly and you should start feeling some relief within 48 hours as they get the infection under control. You should still take the full course of medication even after you start feeling better.
You may also be advised to take anti-inflammatory medications like Advil or Motrin to reduce swelling and pain. Other than that, your dentist may recommend several of the home remedies mentioned earlier. As with viral infection, you will need to stay very well hydrated throughout treatment. Failure to do so may lead to hospitalization for IV hydration.
Surgical Treatments for Infected Salivary Glands
Surgery may be recommended if there is an abscess, salivary stone, cyst or other abnormality contributing to severe or recurring infection. Surgeries may include:
- Drainage of pus from an abscess
- Removal of infected and dead tissue
- Removal of a stone from the duct
- Excision of the entire gland if infections keep coming back
These are typically outpatient procedures. However, close monitoring is required to guard against complications such as sepsis (systemic infection). Fortunately, most salivary gland infection treatments are non-surgical.