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Parotid gland

The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands. It is found in the subcutaneous tissue of the face, overlying the mandibular ramus and anterior and inferior to the external ear. The duct to this gland empties within the buccal cavity. The facial nerve and its branches pass through the parotid gland as do the external carotid artery and its branches.

Although the facial nerve (VII) runs through this gland, it does not control it. Secretion of saliva by the parotid gland is controlled by the glossopharyngeal nerve (IX). The parotid receives secretory fibres from the auriculotemporal nerve which arises from the otic ganglion - the preganglionic fibres which control parotid secretion originate in the inferior salivary nucleus and leave the brain via the glossopharyngeal nerve (IX).

Serous fluid (as opposed to mucous fluid) is produced by the parotid gland.