Salivary Glands Functions

By Dr. Vishaal Bhat on Sunday 2 December 2007 with 0 comments



Salivary glands of the oral cavity are the large paired salivary glands (parotid glands, submandibular glands, and sublingual glands) and small non-paired salivary glands, scattered at the submucosal connective tissue. According to their location, they are designated as lip, cheek, palatal, lingual and gum glands. The product of salivary glands is saliva which has numerous functions, such as:

  1. ensuring a moist and smooth surface of the oral mucosa, thus enabling transport of masticated food from the mouth to the digestive tract through the esophagus,

  2. saliva is the primary digestive fluid which activates digestion of starches by the enzyme amylase,

  3. participates on neutralization of acidic environment in the mouth,

  4. takes part in maintaining an integrity of the oral mucosa by producing glycoproteins and mucoids that reduce penetration of irritant substances from food, drinks, tobacco smoke etc.

Under physiological conditions, a man produces about 1.5 liters of saliva in 24 hours. This secretion is made by the parotid glands by 26% (serous saliva), submandibular glands by 69% (sero-mucinous saliva), and the sublingual salivary gland by roughly 5%. Salivation is controlled by vegetative nerves in such manner that parasympathetic neurons induce secretion of rather thin serous saliva, in contrary to the sympathetic neurons which induce production of viscous, mucinous salivation. The vegetative neurons come to salivary gland either along blood supply vessels (especially sympathetic nerves), or by means of large nerve fibers (for instance in case of gl. parotis by means of n. auriculotemporalis).

Category: Oral Medicine Notes

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