Types of Salivary Glands


Salivary glands are vital structures in the human body responsible for producing saliva. Saliva plays a crucial role in digestion, lubrication, and protection of the oral cavity. There are several types of salivary glands, each with its own unique characteristics and functions. In this article, we will explore the different types of salivary glands and their roles in maintaining oral health.

1. Parotid Glands

1.1 Location

The parotid glands are the largest of the salivary glands and are located on each side of the face, just in front of the ears. They extend into the cheek and are situated between the skin and the masseter muscle.

1.2 Secretion

The parotid glands produce serous saliva, which is a watery fluid rich in enzymes such as amylase. This enzyme helps initiate the breakdown of carbohydrates during the digestive process.

2. Submandibular Glands

2.1 Location

The submandibular glands are located beneath the lower jawbone, near the mandible. They are positioned on either side of the mouth, below the tongue.

2.2 Secretion

The submandibular glands produce a combination of serous and mucous saliva. This mixture provides lubrication and aids in the digestion of food by breaking down complex molecules into simpler forms.

3. Sublingual Glands

3.1 Location

The sublingual glands are situated beneath the tongue, in the floor of the mouth. They are the smallest of the major salivary glands.

3.2 Secretion

The sublingual glands primarily produce mucous saliva, which is a thick and viscous fluid. This type of saliva helps lubricate the oral cavity and facilitates swallowing.

4. Minor Salivary Glands

4.1 Distribution

Minor salivary glands are numerous and scattered throughout the oral cavity. They are found in the lips, cheeks, palate, and tongue, among other locations.

4.2 Secretion

Minor salivary glands produce a combination of serous and mucous saliva, depending on their location. Their secretions contribute to overall oral lubrication, protection, and digestion.

5. Function of Salivary Glands

5.1 Saliva Production

The primary function of salivary glands is to produce saliva. Saliva helps moisten food, making it easier to chew and swallow. It also contains enzymes that aid in the initial breakdown of carbohydrates and fats during digestion.

5.2 Oral Health

Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health. It helps neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Saliva also contains antibacterial components that help prevent infections and promote overall oral hygiene.


Salivary glands are essential structures involved in the production of saliva, which is vital for digestion, lubrication, and oral health. The parotid glands, submandibular glands, and sublingual glands are the major salivary glands, each with its own location and secretion characteristics. Additionally, minor salivary glands are scattered throughout the oral cavity. Understanding the different types of salivary glands and their functions helps us appreciate the important role they play in maintaining oral health and overall well-being.