Salivary glands are essential structures in the oral cavity. A variety of diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, infections and physical traumas, can alter the functionality of these glands, greatly impacting the quality of life of patients. To date, no definitive therapeutic approach can compensate the impairment of salivary glands, and treatment are purely symptomatic. Understanding the cellular and molecular control of salivary glands function is, therefore, highly relevant for therapeutic purposes. In this review, we provide a starting platform for future studies in basic biology and clinical research, reporting classical ideas on salivary gland physiology and recently developed technology to guide regeneration, reconstruction and substitution of the functional organs.
Keywords: exocrine glands; oral epithelium; salivary gland-resident stem cells; salivary glands; xerostomia.