The sublingual gland is an almond sized salivary gland that lies in the floor of the mouth underneath the mouth. There are two sub lingual glands, one on the right and one on the left. Saliva drains from the gland through a number of small tubes that open on the inside of the mouth underneath the tongue and also into the sub mandibular duct. The most common reason for removing a sublingual gland is as a result of a blockage to these drainage tubes. This can lead to a swelling (ranula) under the tongue.
The sublingual gland is removed under a general anaesthesia. A small cut is made in the floor of the mouth underneath the tongue on the inside of the lower teeth. Once the gland has been removed the incision is held together again with dissolvable stitches.
Bleeding from the wound is rarely a problem. Infection is uncommon but if you are at an increased risk you may be prescribed a short course of antibiotics. The removal of the sub lingual gland will not effect the amount of saliva that you produce as there are many other salivary glands left to keep the mouth moist
Numbness of the tongue – the lingual nerve which supplies feeling to the side of the tongue can become bruised as a result of surgery. If this occurs you will experience a tingly or numb feeling in the tongue, similar to the sensation after having an injection at the dentist. This numbness may take several months to disappear and in a minority of patients may last for ever.
The lingual nerve supplies sensation to the front ⅔ of the side of the tongue. It may be bruised during surgery. If bruised it may cause numbness or a tingly sensation on the side of your tongue. There is a 1 in twenty five chance of chance of having a temporary problem and less than 1 in fifty of having a permanent problem.
The hypoglossal nerve makes the tongue move. If bruised during surgery may result in decrease of tongue movement. There is a 1 in fifty chance of chance of having a temporary problem and less than 1 in a hundred of having a permanent problem.
The submandibular duct may be damaged during surgery. If this duct is damaged saliva may not drain properly from the submandibular gland and the sub mandibular gland may swell under the lower jaw. The majority of these swellings usually settle down on their own without further intervention.
As in all surgery it is essential to see a surgeon who will be able to tell you whether your problem can be remedied by surgery, and what the risks are. Thereafter you will be in a position to decide whether you should go ahead or not.