Salivary stones are small stones that form in the glands of the mouth. They can block the flow of saliva and cause pain or discomfort.

The medical term for salivary stones is sialoliths. When they block the salivary glands, this is known as sialolithiasis.

Salivary stones are rarely a cause for concern, and people can often get rid of them at home. However, some stones may require treatment from a doctor.

In this article, we explain what salivary stones are and discuss their symptoms and causes. We also explore home remedies, when to see a doctor, medical treatment, and possible complications.

Doctors do not fully understand what causes salivary stones. However, certain factors can increase a person's risk of getting them.

These risk factors :

Salivary stones that are large may be difficult to remove.
Image credit: Wouter Hagens, 2011

The doctor will look inside the person's mouth to examine any painful areas and feel the size and shape of the stones. They may also request an X-ray or CT scan to determine the number of stones and their exact location.

Doctors are sometimes able to massage or press on a salivary stone to dislodge it from the gland. They may also use an ultrasound machine, which emits high-frequency sound waves that can break the stone into smaller pieces and make it easier to remove.

Salivary stones that are large or situated deep within the salivary gland may be harder to remove.

In these cases, a doctor may need to perform a sialendoscopy. This procedure involves using an endoscope to examine the inside of the mouth and widen the affected salivary duct, allowing the stone to pass through. As this procedure can be uncomfortable, the doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the person's mouth first.