Definition.—An inflammation of the mouth and salivary glands, due to the specific action of mercury. It may become phagedenic, destroying muscle, cartilage, and bone.
Etiology.—The disease is caused, as the name indicates, by the influence of mercury upon the system. Some people are extremely susceptible to this drug, and the smallest dose will produce ptyalism; hence, an occasional case is seen, notwithstanding the heroic doses of fifty years ago have been discarded by the profession.
Symptoms.—"The mouth feels unusually hot, and is sometimes sensible of a coppery or metallic taste; the gums are swollen, red, and tender; ulcers make their appearance, and spread in all directions; the saliva is thick and stringy, and has that peculiar, offensive odor characteristic of mercurial disease; the tongue is swollen and stiff, and there is some fever, with derangement of the secretions. The disease progressing, it destroys every part that it touches, until the lips, the cheeks, and even the bones, have been eaten away before death comes to the sufferer's relief." (Scudder.)
Diagnosis.—The history of the case, mercury having been taken, the metallic taste, and the character of the ulcers, make the diagnosis positive.
Prognosis.—The prognosis is usually favorable, though the teeth may be sacrificed, and in severe cases the periosteum is destroyed.
Treatment.—Chlorate of potassium is almost a specific for this form of stomatitis. It should be combined with hydrastis, and used both locally as a wash and also for its systemic effect. The ulcers may be touched with dilute sulphuric or nitric acid. Dr. Webster speaks very highly of jaborandi in small doses. It is doubtful if phytolacca is as beneficial in this variety as in the other forms. Alkaline washes and pyrozone should be freely used. The diet should be nutritious, in fluid form, and unirritating. It is hardly necessary to add, that the exciting drug should be at once withheld as soon as the first evidence of ptyalism is noticed.
The Eclectic Practice of Medicine, 1907, was written by Rolla L. Thomas, M. S., M. D.