The parotid gland is the largest of all salivary glands, and it is classified as the major salivary gland. It is a paired gland with an inverted pyramidal shape. Its base is directed upward, while its apex is faced downward. The parotid gland is a serous gland producing about 60 - 65% of daily saliva. It weighs around 0.53 - 1.06 ounces (15 - 30 grams).
Each parotid gland lies on the lateral side of the face in front of the auricle in the retromandibular fossa. This region is also known as the parotid or preauricular area. Anterior to the gland is the masseter muscle (Read more!), while posterior is the external ear and sternocleidomastoid muscle (Read more!). It extends to the zygomatic arch in the superior direction and reaches the mandibular angle and lower border of the mandible in the inferior direction. The parotid glands contribute to the formation of the cheeks and give them fullness.
The parotid gland is enclosed by a fibrous capsule called the parotid sheath formed by the robust parotid fascia, which is a continuation of the investing layer of the deep cervical fascia. It covers the gland from all sides.