Salivary glands are located in the mouth. There are three pairs of large salivary glands. Parotid glands are above the jaw and below the ear. Submandibular glands are below the jaw. Sublingual glands are under the tongue. There are also hundreds of smaller glands. These glands make saliva (spit) and empty it into the mouth through openings called ducts. Saliva makes food moist, which helps chewing and swallowing and the digestion of food. Saliva also keeps the mouth clean and healthy because it contains antibodies that kill germs.
If the salivary glands are damaged or aren’t producing enough saliva it can affect taste, make chewing and swallowing more difficult, and increase the risk for cavities, tooth loss, and infections in the mouth.