Submandibular duct

Submandibular duct

Submandibular duct
Dissection, showing salivary glands of right side. (Labeled as "submaxillary duct", but is identified as "submandibular duct" in newer sources.)
Mandibular division of trifacial nerve, seen from the middle line. The small figure is an enlarged view of the otic ganglion. ("Wharton's duct" labeled in lower left.)
Latin Ductus submaxillaris
Gray's p.1135
MeSH A03.556.500.760.640
Anatomical terminology

The submandibular duct or Wharton duct[1] or submaxillary duct is one of the salivary excretory ducts. It is about 5 cm. long, and its wall is much thinner than that of the parotid duct. It drains saliva from each bilateral submandibular gland and sublingual gland to the sublingual caruncle at the base of the tongue.[2]


  • Structure 1
  • Function 2
  • History 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


It begins by numerous branches from the deep surface of the gland, and runs forward between the mylohyoideus, hyoglossus, and genioglossus, then between the sublingual gland and the genioglossus, and opens by a narrow orifice on the summit of a small papilla at the side of the frenulum linguæ.

On the hyoglossus it lies between the lingual and hypoglossal nerves, but at the anterior border of the muscle the lingual nerve passes inferior and medial to the submandibular duct; the terminal branches of the lingual nerve ascend on its medial side.


This is the duct from which a hungry person, preparing to take a first bite of food, might accidentally eject a spray of salivary fluid, or, alternatively, intentionally do so in a process called gleeking.


It was initially described by the English anatomist Thomas Wharton and is sometimes referred to by his name.[3]


This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.

  1. ^ Wharton's duct at Who Named It?
  2. ^ Ten Cate's Oral Histology, Nanci, Elsevier, 2013, page 255
  3. ^ Wharton T (1656). Adenographia: sive glandularum totius corporis descriptio. London: Wharton. pp. pages 128–137. 

External links

  • Anatomy figure: 34:03-05 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center
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