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Protecting Their Smiles: Understanding and Managing Salivary Gland Disorders in Children

Child with salivary gland disorder problems

Our children’s smiles play a significant role in how they’ll navigate the world, and a healthy, confident smile can boost their self-esteem and make a lasting impression. At OC Kids Dental, we understand that while tooth decay and gum disease are some common concerns to have for their oral health, it is also essential to be aware of other conditions that can impact their smiles, such as salivary gland disorders. While considered somewhat rare, especially among children, it is still important to learn more about these disorders and how they can affect people’s oral health. 

What Are Salivary Gland Disorders? 

Saliva plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy smile. While we often associate it with the anticipation of delicious foods, it does so much more. Saliva protects the mucous membranes throughout the cheeks and lips, keeping them moist and free from debris. Saliva also helps maintain the pH levels in our mouths, creating a healthy environment that fights off harmful bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay. Additionally, saliva aids in moistening our foods and acts as a natural rinse, washing away bacteria and debris. 

When the salivary glands fail to produce saliva, it can have a large impact on our children’s oral health. Several factors can lead to reduced saliva production, including: 

  • Sj√∂gren’s Syndrome: This autoimmune disorder causes reduced saliva and tear production. It often presents symptoms such as dry mouth, eyes, fatigue, and joint pain.
  • Salivary gland stones: Also known as sialolithiasis, these calcified deposits form within the ducts of the salivary glands and can obstruct saliva flow, leading to swelling, pain, and infection.
  • Salivary gland infections: Bacteria or viral infections can cause inflammation and infection to the salivary glands, with the most common type being sialadenitis or mumps.
  • Salivary gland tumors: These abnormal growths can develop within the salivary glands, be either benign or malignant, and can cause swelling, pain, difficulty swallowing, and changes in facial muscle function. 

There are some common signs to look out for, including:

  • Abnormal tastes when eating or drinking
  • Difficulties with swallowing food
  • Swelling in the face and neck
  • Trouble moving and opening the mouth
  • Frequent salivary gland infection

These are just a few examples of the symptoms that can come with salivary gland disorders. Because every aspect of our oral health is connected, salivary gland disorders disrupt this intricate system, impacting the functions that are needed to keep our children’s mouths healthy and clean. 

Explore Your Options For Treatment at OC Kids Dental

At OC Kids Dental, we prioritize your child’s oral health and work to provide the best dental care throughout Aliso Viejo, CA. We invite you to visit our clinic to meet our friendly staff. To schedule an appointment, please call (949) 362-9860. When it comes to your child’s oral health, there’s no time to wait. Contact us today to schedule their first visit and take a proactive approach to their oral care.