Salivary gland and salivary duct masses are common oral cavity diseases. Cysts that are associated with the salivary glands are the most common soft tissue anomaly within the mouth. True cysts that have a sheath of lining cells are not common in the floor of the mouth. Primitive foregut cysts or thyroglossal duct cysts are seen in the floor of the mouth. They are often mistaken for ranulas.
Ranulas are not real cysts but they resemble cysts in appearance, so they are called pseudocysts. They are commonly associated with the submandibular duct and sublingual glands. These pseudocysts can develop as a result of a variation in the exit point of the sublingual glands or following an oral trauma. They are usually seen as a bluish swelling on either side of the floor of the mouth below the tongue.
Another type of pesudocyt is called mucocele. They are pseudocysts of minor salivary glands. Mucoceles are formed when the secretion of salivary glands find its way out and accumulates into the surrounding tissue. They are usually seen as smooth swelling and can be taken out with the adjacent minor salivary gland especially when it interferes with normal function.
Salivary gland stone or sialolithiasis is a relatively common condition. More than 90 percent of these stones arise from submandibular glands. Men between the ages of 30 and 60 years tend to be the target population that develop salivary gland stones. These stones are usually formed in the salivary duct, yet, the exact cause of stone formation is not known. A number of infections could mimic this condition and conservative management is the most common treatment strategy in most cases.
A number of other benign lesions can appear in the oral cavity. Choristomas and teratomas are the most common in this group. Choristoma refers to a mass of normal cells in an abnormal location. Teratomas are masses that have tissues derived from all embryonic layers. A fair number of benign masses develop after consistent irritation from food or medication. Some autoimmune diseases can also produce similar lesions.
Less commonly, malignant masses are seen in the oral cavity. These lesions are usually associated with an outside triggering factor that has been taking effect over time. Tobacco is a famous culprit while other substances such as alcohol are also involved. Some malignant lesions in the oral cavity are commonly seen in patients with AIDS.
As a rule, cigarette smoking is an important inducing factor for the majority of the lesions within the oral cavity. Not only it increases the chance of developing benign lesions but also it boosts the rate of precancerous and cancerous masses. Oral lesions have a higher chance to become malignant in smokers compared to non-smokers. Therefore, it is always a wise action to quit smoking.
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