Simple Steps To Better Dental Health
space placeholder
Featuring consumer information from Columbia School of Dental & Oral Surgery
Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
Small BoxAll About Cavities
Small BoxBrushing and Flossing
Small BoxFluoride
Small BoxMouth-Healthy Eating
Small BoxSealants
Small BoxTaking Care of Your Teeth
Small BoxTobacco
Small BoxYour Dental Visit
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxBad Breath
Small BoxCavities
Small BoxCold Sores
Small BoxDry Mouth
Small BoxImpacted Tooth
Small BoxSensitive Teeth
Small BoxTMJ
Small BoxTooth Discoloration
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxCrowns
Small BoxDentures
Small BoxFillings: The Basics
Small BoxGum Surgery
Small BoxImplants
Small BoxRoot Canal Treatment
Small BoxScaling and Root Planing
Small BoxWhitening
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxControlling Pain
Small BoxCosmetic Dentistry
Small BoxEmergencies
Small BoxFill, Repair, Replace
Small BoxKids And Teens
Small BoxOral Health and Your Body
Small BoxOrthodontics
Small BoxPeriodontics
Small BoxSeniors
Small BoxMORE
Step 1 Prevent ProblemsSimplestepsPrevent Problems
Step 2 Understand ConditionsSimplestepsUnderstand Conditions
Step 3 Explore TreatmentsSimplestepsExplore Treatments

go to Interactive Tools go to Parents' Guide go to Dental Drugs go to Ask The Dentist

Back to Conditions
New reviewed by Columbia banner

space placeholder
space placeholder.What Is It?.
space placeholder.Symptoms.
space placeholder.Diagnosis.
space placeholder.Expected Duration.
space placeholder.Prevention.
space placeholder.Treatment.
space placeholder.When To Call a Professional.
space placeholder.Prognosis.
space placeholder..
space placeholder

space placeholder
space placeholder.What Is It?
space placeholder

Sialoliths (pronounced SIGH-al-low-liths) are salivary gland stones. They are usually made of calcium phosphate and carbon. They have traces of other minerals. Sialoliths are not related to kidney stones.

Sialoliths affect about 1 out of 100 adults. Men are affected twice as often as women.

Most sialoliths — up to 9 out of 10 — occur in the submandibular salivary gland. They also can occur in the parotid, sublingual and minor salivary glands.

It is not clear what causes these stones to form. Experts think that inflammation, irritation and some medicines increase the risk of developing them. Some people are more likely to form sialoliths than others. They include people who:

  • Have illnesses such as gout and Sj√∂gren's syndrome
  • Have undergone head and neck radiotherapy
  • Have suffered injury to the area
  • Are elderly
  • Have kidney disease
space placeholder
space placeholder.Symptoms
space placeholder

The most common symptom is a painful swelling of the salivary gland. But in about 3 out of 10 cases, the swelling is painless. Pain and swelling usually get worse when people eat. The pain is caused by a back-up of saliva behind the stone. This can lead to infection. If left untreated for a long time, it may also destroy the gland's tissue.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Diagnosis
space placeholder

This condition usually is diagnosed with an X-ray. But some stones (at least 2 out of 10 submandibular stones and 5 out of 10 parotid stones) will not show up on an X-ray. Ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) scans usually are used in these cases. The dentist may try to squeeze saliva from the gland to see if it is blocked.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Expected Duration
space placeholder

The stone will stay in the gland until it is removed. This is done by surgery or by squeezing it out using finger pressure. In most cases, removing the stone will relieve the pain. In other cases, there may be an infection that needs to be treated as well.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Prevention
space placeholder

Because the exact cause of sialoliths is not known, there is no clear way to prevent them. However, getting enough fluids is important, especially if you exercise frequently or live in a warm climate.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Treatment
space placeholder

Stones near the end of a salivary gland duct often can be removed by squeezing them out by hand. Deeper ones require surgery. The entire salivary gland may need to be removed. Sometimes stones are smashed with shock waves. This procedure is known as lithotripsy. This is similar to a process used for kidney stones. However, this procedure has side effects, and not everyone is a candidate for it.

Any infections will be treated with antibiotics.

space placeholder
space placeholder.When To Call a Professional
space placeholder

Always call your dentist if you have facial pain or swelling. It could be from a sialolith. It also could be another problem.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Prognosis
space placeholder

If the stone is removed before infection or tissue damage occurs, the outlook usually is excellent.

printer friendly format option iconPrinter-friendly version     
printer friendly format option iconPrinter-friendly version
Powered by Aetna Dental Plans

© 2002-2016 Aetna, Inc. All rights reserved. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before starting a new fitness regimen. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions. External website links provided on this site are meant for convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement. These external links open in a different window.