Salivary Gland Disease Sialadenitis

Sialadenitis is a bacterial salivary gland infection. Most common in the parotid gland, infection often occurs in connection with blocked salivary gland ducts or in people who have a reduced flow of saliva.

Although salivary gland infection is fairly common, sialadenitis can cause painful and systemic health concerns. Many acute cases of parotid gland infection and sialadenitis are caused by infection with Staphylococcus or other bacteria.

Risk Factors for Sialadenitis

Salivary gland infection is often seen in older adults, yet people can develop sialadenitis at any age. For example, young people with anorexia are at increased risk for a parotid gland infection. The condition may also develop in infants during the first few weeks after birth.

Obstruction (with a blocked salivary gland, infection is more likely) and poor oral hygiene are the two main causes of sialadenitis. Additional risk factors for bacterial salivary gland infection include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic illness
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Medications (including antihistamines, barbiturates, beta-blockers, diuretics and psychiatric medications)
  • Occupation (Trumpet players and glass blowers are at greater risk.)
  • Premature birth
  • Radiation treatment of the oral cavity
  • Recent surgery
  • Sjogren’s syndrome.

Adverse drug reactions and autoimmune diseases can also cause salivary gland infections.

Symptoms of Salivary Gland Infection

A painful, swollen lump in the cheek or under your chin is one of the main symptoms of sialadenitis. In serious cases, pus may drain into the mouth and you might develop a fever. Other indications that you have a salivary gland infection include:

  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Facial swelling
  • Fever
  • Pain when eating
  • Pain when opening mouth
  • Skin redness.

To diagnose sialadenitis, doctors look for enlarged salivary glands, examine the patient’s face and mouth, take a medical history and test saliva and blood for bacteria. A CT scan or ultrasound may be used if the doctor suspects the parotid gland infection, or other salivary gland infection, caused an abscess.

Treatment for Sialadenitis

In most case, sialadenitis resolves quickly with antibiotics. Good oral hygiene can also help manage the symptoms of sialadenitis. Sometimes a salivary gland infection will run its course without medical treatment. In other cases, such as when a parotid gland infection causes an abscess, surgical draining is necessary.

Placing warm compresses on the infection site can reduce discomfort. Drinking lots of water, sipping orange juice and sucking on hard candies can help boost saliva flow, which can reduce the symptoms of sialadenitis.


Harvard Medical School. (2007). Salivary gland disorders. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from