Sublingual gland

Last revised by Jeremy Jones on 6 Apr 2023

The sublingual glands are the smallest of the three paired major salivary glands that lie in the sublingual space on the floor of the mouth, anterior to the submandibular glands. They secrete predominantly mucous saliva that is drained by numerous ducts, collectively termed the minor sublingual ducts (of Rivinus). Occasionally, the anteriormost duct is enlarged, forming the major sublingual duct (of Bartholin) which opens together with the submandibular duct at the sublingual papilla.

The sublingual glands are small, almond-shaped glands. They lie against the medial surface of the mandible at the sublingual fossa and are immediately lateral to the submandibular duct and lingual nerve.

The superior surface of the gland indents the mucosa of the floor of the mouth, creating the sublingual fold, which extends to the sublingual papilla at the base of the frenulum of the tongue.

It is the only major salivary gland that does not contain a capsule 5. The parotid and submandibular glands both have a fibrous capsule derived from the superficial (investing) layer of the deep cervical fascia 4.

Autonomic innervation is from the lingual nerve via the submandibular ganglion with parasympathetic fibers arising from the chorda tympani and sympathetic fibers from the superior cervical ganglion.

Bartholin duct is named after its discoverer, the Danish anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Younger (1655-1738) 3.

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