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Salivary Glands Function And Structure

By Jayton Miller

Woman drinking water from plastic bottle

Scorched, dry as dust, cotton mouth, thirsty. These are all words that you think of when your salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva and your mouth becomes overly dry. Let’s take a look at how the salivary glands function and what you can do to prevent this from happening to you...


General Function And Structure Of The Salivary Glands:

General Structure And Function Of The Salivary Glands

Producing about three quarters of a liter of saliva the salivary glands play an important part in the health of the mouth. The saliva plays a role in lubricating the mouth, protecting the teeth (teeth must stay wet to stay healthy) and helps with chewing and swallowing. Without saliva our teeth would dry out, food would get stuck in the esophagus, and chewing would be much more difficult.

There are three main pairs of glands that produce 90% of the saliva in the human mouth. The other 10% is produced by minor salivary glands in the cheeks, lips, and tongue. The main salivary glands are:

  • Accessory Parotid Gland - This is an additional gland that is not present in all people, but worth noting.
  • Submandibular Gland - Located near the rear end of the border of the mandible.
  • Parotid Gland - The largest of the salivary glands, and is surrounded by a fibrous capsule known as the parotid capsule.
  • Sublingual Gland - Lies under the tongue next to the sublingual fossa.

The cells that actually produce the saliva in these glands are located at the end of a series of vessels. There are two cell types, mucous and and serous cells, that each produce their own type of saliva. Mucous cells produce a thick mucin-rich saliva whereas the serous cells produce a watery saliva with amylase (the enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates).

Read More: How Humans Speak

Common Challenges Of The Salivary Glands:

Common Challenges Of The Salivary Gland

The salivary glands are not commonly associated with many ailments, but some of the ones that are seen are:

  • Parotid Enlargement
  • Salivary Duct Blocks
  • Trauma

Parotid enlargement most often happens when a tumor is present. Salivary duct blocks typically happen from a buildup of calcium and phosphate ions. Trauma is usually from a blow to the head. If you are experiencing any of these make sure to contact a medical professional for help.

Read More: How To Improve Your Electrolyte And Micronutrient Concentration

Helpful Ways To Support Healthy Salivary Glands:

Helpful Ways To Support The Salivary Gland

The best ways that you can support healthy salivary glands is to give them enough liquid. Drinking fluids throughout the day is going to be one of the best ways to support the production of saliva.

The next best thing that you can do to help support the salivary glands is going to be avoiding smoking. Smoking dries out the mouth and puts excess stress on the salivary glands.


Overall, the salivary glands play an important role in the health of the entirety of the human organism. From helping the digestive system to protecting the teeth the salivary glands play a role and need to be taken care. Support them as much as you can! Diet and lifestyle habits can play a huge role in maintaining optimal fluid balance and supporting an overall healthy body, so we always recommend the Thermo Diet Program! The Thermo Diet Program is designed to supply your body with all the nutrients it needs, so your body can truly thrive! Click here to join the Thermo Diet today, only available on UMZUfit!

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