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Salivary Glands

Salivary glands are glands that produce both saliva and the enzyme that turns starch into maltose, called amylase.

Formation and Orientation

There are five separate glands that make up the salivary gland system. First, the parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands, secreting saliva through Stensen’s ducts to help with the breakdown of food in the mouth (mastication). The submandibular glands are situated beneath the lower jaws over the digastric muscles. This gland secretes mucous and serous fluid through the Wharton’s ducts. These glands produce 70% of saliva in the mouth. Next, the sublingual glands are the salivary glands placed under the tongue. Von Ebner’s glands are located on the tongue and secrete mucous to help with the perception of taste. The glands greatest in number are the minor salivary glands. There are over 600 of them spread throughout the mouth to discharge mucous.

These salivary glands are triggered by either parasympathetic or sympathetic innervation. Through parasympathetic innervation, the parotid gland is activated by the glossopharyngeal nerve, and both the submandibular and sublingual glands get inputs from the facial nerve. The inputs sent by these nerves trigger the release of acetylcholine and substance P. In sympathetic innervation the secretion of saliva and cyclic adenosine monophosphate increase in response to the reception of norepinephrine by β-adrenergic receptors.

Function

The system of glands that produces and secretes saliva and amylase through ducts in the mouth is the salivary gland system. Intercalate ducts (lumina) turn into striated ducts which modify salivary fluids. These fluids drain into the interlobar ducts.

Image Caption: Salivary glands: #1 is Parotid gland, #2 is Submandibular gland, #3 is Sublingual gland. Credit: Wikipedia

Salivary Glands


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