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Sublingual Gland: Structure and Function

Niharika Arya Apr 17, 2019
One of the three types of salivary glands, sublingual gland is present under the tongue. It aids many functions like eating, talking, drinking, etc. Find out more about this smallest but essential gland of our body here.
Salivary glands are responsible for keeping the mouth lubricated and helps in chewing and swallowing food. There are mainly three pairs of salivary glands namely: parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands. These glands are responsible for the secretion of saliva inside the mouth.
The parotid gland is present near the ears, the submandibular is present under the mandible and the sublingual gland is present under the tongue. Apart from these, there are many small glands which secrete saliva in the mouth. So, let's find out the structure, positioning and functioning of this gland.

Location and Structure

The sublingual gland is located underneath the tongue or the floor of the mouth. It is also called mucous gland as it mostly produces mucous. It is small, almond-shaped and has nearly 8 to 20 excretory ducts which are called rivinus.
The major duct of this gland is the Bartholin duct which joins the submandibular glands to drain mucous. The rest of the ducts open in different parts of the mouth and secrete saliva through small tubes. These glands contribute to 5% of the total saliva entering the oral cavity.


Salivary glands are responsible for numerous functions, and as the sublingual gland is present below the tongue it has many important functions to do.
► The most important function of the salivary gland is to keep the mouth moist and lubricated. This helps in keeping the mouth in a good oral healthy condition. In the day time, the mouth is used for many things like eating, talking, drinking, etc., which keeps the salivary glands active all the time. 
But in the night, the sublingual or salivary glands are not used much. This results in dry mouth conditions and bad breadth. But this condition disappears the next morning as again the glands become active.
► Saliva or mucous secreted from these glands gets mixed with the food which aids proper grinding, and swallowing of the food. If the production of these glands is not proper then the person may face difficulty in swallowing food, or it may also result in choking of food pipe.
► The saliva secreted by the glands consists of water, mucus, and enzyme amylase. Water is no doubt the most important constituent in any function, but the enzyme amylase is very helpful in digesting food too. 
It breaks down the food into simple substances which can be easily absorbed by the body. For instance, it breaks down starch into maltose which is easily absorbed by the body.
► It also facilitates dissolving of many substances which takes place after coming in contact with the saliva. This helps the taste buds to taste the substances more effectively.


As the gland is present in the mouth, it is prone to many infections. The most common sign of salivary gland infection is swelling. This swelling is due to the blockage of the small tubes or ducts which secrete saliva or mucous.
It can be very painful and can restrict the secretion of saliva, which may further result in dry mouth, bad breath, etc. This problem can be solved with the help of antibiotics. In severe conditions, you may also be asked to undergo surgery.
So, by now you have got enough information about the sublingual gland which is a very important part of the salivary gland.