In the human body there are several glands that secrete and release substances throughout the body that serve for the proper functioning of the different systems in which they intervene. The salivary glands are located near the oral cavity.
The salivary glands They are exocrine glands of the digestive system, that is, they are responsible for the secretion of saliva, which will then be poured into the oral cavity. This secretion helps to keep the mouth lubricated, to chew and to swallow food.
According to their size, the salivary glands are classified into two large groups:
- The minor salivary glands. They are small and there are 5 types: labial, palatal, genian, lingual and molar.
- The major salivary glands. They are the main and most voluminous. There are three pairs:
- The parotid glands
- The submandibular glands
- The sublingual glands
The glands sublingualit is they are located, as their name suggests, under the tongue. They are also called mucous glands because they mainly produce mucous-type saliva. These glands are the smallest of the three and are almond-shaped. Its main excretory duct is called Bartholin and it is the site where saliva is secreted into the oral cavity, producing 5% of the total saliva in the mouth.
What is your function?
The main function of the major salivary glands is the production of saliva. Saliva has numerous functions, the most important of which are highlighted below:
- Moisten and lubricate. Helps maintain a good condition of the oral cavity, moistening and lubricating it. This function prevents damage to the soft mucous membranes of the mouth, reducing the risk of injuries and painful infections.
- Swallowing. The saliva that they secrete mixes with the food that is eaten and helps with swallowing.
- Digestion. Saliva is made up of amylase enzymes, which help break down food into simple substances so that they can be absorbed by the human body.
- Dissolution. Saliva facilitates the dissolution of many substances, so it helps to taste the substances.
Can the sublingual glands present pathologies?
If the salivary glands do not perform their function correctly, various oral pathologies may appear. Some of the more frequent alterations are shown below.
The xerostomia or dry mouth is the main disease of the oral cavity in case there is a decreased secretion of saliva. The causes of this salivary decrease are very diverse, the most frequent are: stress, diseases such as diabetes, therapy with certain drugs, the absence of teeth, an unbalanced diet and the consumption of tobacco and alcohol. This salivary decrease favors the appearance of soft tissue lesions, infections and an increase in carious lesions. The main treatment is to identify and eliminate the causative factors, practice good oral hygiene, hydrate and can be useful salivary stimulants.
The ranula It is a small painless mass that affects the sublingual glands. The main cause is the accumulation of saliva due to an obstruction or damage to the duct. This pathology can make swallowing, chewing or speaking difficult. The main treatment is its surgical excision.
The lithiasis it is a benign pathology in young patients. It is a calcification in the salivary ducts. In the sublingual glands they appear infrequently. They could be related to a decrease in salivary flow. They cause inflammation, pain and can cause infections.
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