Beneath the tongue is the area known as the floor of the mouth, where a normally thin strip of tissues called the lingual frenulum (also frenum
) connects the floor of the mouth to the tongue.
In some infants, the frenulum is very thick and severely limits the movement of the tongue, leading to difficulty with feeding. This disorder is called
A congenital defect characterized by limited mobility of the tongue due to shortness of its frenulum.
. In cases where breastfeeding
is inhibited, a
Excision of a frenulum.
may be done to release the tongue. (See Chapter 11: Oral Findings
Near the attachment of the frenulum to the floor of the mouth are the tiny openings (Wharton’s ducts) of the submandibular salivary glands. The ducts of the sublingual salivary glands are present on either side of the Wharton’s ducts. In addition, there are 2 large salivary glands, known as the Parotid glands. The Parotid glands are located along the sides of the jaw, just below and in front of the ears, between the masseter muscle and the skin. These glands empty through tiny holes called Stenson's ducts, which appear as small bumps on the inside of the cheeks near the maxillary second molars.
Failure of these glands to produce saliva leads to
Abnormal dryness of the mouth due to insufficient saliva production.
, which can be caused by medical conditions (eg, Sjogren’s, sarcoidosis, lupus), medications (eg, antihistamines), or illicit drugs (eg, Crystal Meth). Examination of these glands, especially the Parotids, might lead to the discovery of
An inflammation of the major salivary glands.
(see Chapter 11: Oral Findings