Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Font Size

Salivary Gland Scan

A salivary gland scan uses a special camera and a tracer (radioactive chemical) to take pictures of the salivary glands camera.gif. This can help your doctor find the cause of dry mouth (xerostomia) or swelling in the salivary glands.

During a salivary gland scan, the tracer liquid is put into a vein (IV) in your arm. The tracer moves through your blood and into the salivary glands. A special camera takes pictures to show how much tracer stays in the salivary glands.

Why It Is Done

A salivary gland scan is done to:

  • Find the cause of swelling in the major salivary glands. Swelling may be caused by an infection (abscess), inflammation, or a pocket of fluid (cyst).
  • See if a growth in the parotid gland camera.gif is a benign Warthin's tumor or may be cancer.
  • Find the cause of dry mouth (xerostomia). Several problems can cause dry mouth, such as a blocked salivary duct, a growth in a salivary gland, or Sjögren's syndrome.

How To Prepare

Before the salivary gland scan, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Are breast-feeding. You will need to use formula for 1 to 2 days after the scan so you won't pass the tracer to your baby. You should throw out any breast milk you collect during this time.
  • Have had other nuclear scans recently. If so, the salivary gland scan may need to be delayed.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

A salivary gland scan is usually done by a nuclear medicine technologist. The pictures are usually interpreted by a radiologist or nuclear medicine specialist.

You will need to take off jewelry that may get in the way of the scan.

During a salivary gland scan, you will sit with the camera placed at your neck. A small amount of the tracer is put in your vein (IV).

The camera will scan for radiation released by the tracer. The pictures are taken every few minutes during the scan. You need to stay very still during the scan so the pictures are not blurry.

You may be asked to suck on a lemon after the first pictures are taken. This causes your salivary glands to release more saliva. Then more pictures are taken.

A salivary gland scan takes about 1 hour.

How It Feels

You will not feel pain during the test. You may feel a quick sting or pinch when the IV is put in your arm. The tracer may make you feel warm and flushed.

You may find it hard to lie still during the scan.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

close up of woman sticking out tongue
Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
toothbrushes
10 secrets to a brighter smile.
 
Veneer smile
Before and after.
Woman checking her bite in mirror
Why dental care is important.
 

Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
Slideshow
woman with jaw pain
Quiz
 
eroded front teeth
Slideshow
brushing teeth
Video
 

Variety shades of tea
Slideshow
mouth and dental instruments
Article
 
Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
Tool
womans smile
Video