Most of us have heard of kidney stones or gallbladder stones… but salivary stones? Salivary stones are a medical condition, too.

Like other types of stones, salivary stones form when calcium phosphate, magnesium, or carbonate minerals build up and form into stone-like deposits.

Your salivary glands produce saliva which is distributed in the mouth via a system of ducts. Saliva is a mix of water, mucus, antibacterial substances and amylase, a digestive enzyme which helps break down our food into more easily digestible components. Saliva is nature’s protective agent as it buffers the mouth and neutralizes harmful acids.

But if your salivary glands are blocked, saliva won’t flow around the mouth as it should, which can cause some unpleasant side effects.

Salivary Gland Stone Symptoms

When salivary stones form, they usually cause no symptoms until it’s too late when the salivary duct is blocked. At this point, you may feel tenderness in your lower jaw, inner cheeks or throat that gets progressively more intense especially after mealtimes.

Some of the most common salivary stone symptoms include:

  • Pain and swelling – you may feel a dull pain in the submandibular salivary gland or a sore lump under your tongue which could cause your jaw, cheek, or neck to swell.
  • Dry mouth – you may notice your mouth feeling increasingly dry, this is because your salivary ducts could be blocked by salivary stones.
  • Difficulty swallowing – if the salivary stone is blocking your duct completely, the salivary gland swelling may make swallowing or opening your mouth difficult and painful.
  • Fever and foul taste – when your salivary glands are blocked you may develop a bacterial infection which causes fever and a foul taste in your mouth.

Where are the Salivary Glands?

Salivary glands are located across multiple areas in the mouth and contain ducts through which the saliva is spread around the mouth. There are three main pairs of salivary glands in our mouth.

The largest can be found at the back of your mouth on each side of your cheeks and are known as Parotid glands.

The submandibular salivary glands are found on both sides of your lower jaw and the sublingual glands are smaller and found under your tongue.

In most cases, salivary stones form in the submandibular salivary glands. Rarely, they can also form in the parotid and sublingual glands although this tends to be less common.

Salivary Stone Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of why some people develop salivary stones are not known, however we do know that certain factors increase the risk of developing them.

Your chances of developing salivary stones are higher if you smoke, suffer from gum disease, had a trauma inside your mouth or have a history of poor nutrition and dehydration. Men are also more likely to develop salivary stones than women and these stones are more common with older age groups.

Salivary Stone Home Remedies

If you develop stones in your salivary glands, there are ways you can manage, treat and even dislodge the salivary stone at home using everyday ingredients and over-the-counter medication. If you’re wondering how to massage out a salivary gland stone, try the following at-home salivary gland stone treatments:

  • Sucking on citrus fruits or hard sour sweets – acidic fruits like lemons, limes and oranges stimulate the production of saliva which may help dislodge the stone from the blocked salivary gland.
  • Gently massaging the area around the stone – if you’re wondering how to remove a salivary stone yourself, follow gentle salivary gland massage techniques to help relieve pain and encourage the stone to pass through the blocked salivary gland.
  • Drinking more water – regular fluid intake helps keep your mouth hydrated and well lubricated.
  • Sucking on something cold – sucking on ice cubes or ice lollies can help reduce the swelling and pain.
  • Over-the-counter medications – NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin can help relieve pain and bring the swelling down.

Please note, that it’s best to consult with your medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

You can ensure that your oral hygiene is not affected while you suffer from salivary stones by brushing your teeth with a suitable electric toothbrush, a fluoride toothpaste, and rinsing with a gentle antibacterial mouthwash to freshen the breath and kill plaque.

Salivary Stone Medical Treatments

If you can’t dislodge the salivary stone at home, book an appointment with your medical professional. Both non-surgical and surgical methods are used to remove the blocked salivary gland stone depending on where and how deep your stone is located.

  • Non-surgical – your medical professional may use different massage techniques to gently coax the stone out of the submandibular duct.
  • Surgical – a small incision may be carried out using a procedure called Sialendoscopy which is a less invasive salivary stone removal operation using micro surgical instruments to remove the stone. This operation is carried out using local anaesthetic in a same-day procedure.


What are main causes of salivary stones?

The exact causes of salivary stones are not yet known, but there are some factors that put you at higher risk of developing them. Factors include smoking, suffering from gum disease, having had a trauma in your mouth and a history of dehydration or malnutrition.

How to push a salivary stone out?

Salivary stones can be removed at home using massaging techniques or by stimulating the production of saliva by sucking on acidic fruits. If at-home solutions fail, consult a doctor as they’ll be able to try additional massage techniques or perform a small surgical operation using local anaesthetic.

Are salivary stones common?

Salivary stones most commonly form in adults aged 30 to 60 and usually affect the submandibular salivary glands. More rarely, the parotid and sublingual glands may be affected.

Do salivary stones smell?

When salivary stones form, they block the salivary duct. Saliva contains enzymes like amylase which helps break down our food as well as antibacterial agents which help keep your mouth healthy. Sialolithiasis (a condition associated with the formation of salivary stones) can decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth which can cause a build-up of bacteria that may lead to bad breath .


This blog has been reviewed and approved
by Dr Robert Lee, a dental professional of 35 years

Dr. Lee