Trench mouth is a severe gum infection caused by a buildup
of bacteria in the mouth. It’s characterized by painful, bleeding gums and ulcers in the gums. Your mouth
naturally contains a balance of healthy bacteria, fungi, and viruses. However, poor dental hygiene can cause harmful
bacteria to grow. Red, sensitive, and bleeding gums are symptoms of a condition
known as gingivitis. Trench
mouth is a rapidly progressing form of gingivitis.
The term trench
mouth can be traced back to World War I, when it was common for
soldiers to experience severe gum problems because they didn’t have access to
dental care while in battle. It’s formally known as:
- Vincent’s stomatitis
- acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
- necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
Trench mouth is most common in teenagers and
younger adults. It’s a serious condition, but it’s rare. It’s most common
in underdeveloped nations and areas with
poor nutrition and living conditions.
Learn more about this serious oral infection
and ways to prevent and manage the symptoms.
Trench mouth is caused by an infection of the
gums due to the overabundance of harmful bacteria. If you have
gingivitis, you’re already
at a higher risk of developing this advanced infection.
Trench mouth has also been linked
to the following risk factors:
weakened immune system
of the mouth, teeth, or throat
The infection worsens and damages gum tissue if it’s left
untreated. This can lead to a host of problems,
including ulcers and possible tooth loss.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of trench mouth so you can get timely treatment and prevent complications. While the symptoms of trench mouth are similar to those of gingivitis, they tend to progress more
Symptoms of trench mouth include:
breath or a bad taste in the mouth
in response to irritation (such as brushing) or pressure
ulcers in the mouth
film on the gums
that are red, swollen, or bleeding
in the gums
Trench Mouth Diagnosed?
A dentist can usually diagnose trench mouth
during an examination. Your dentist may gently prod your gums to see how easily
they bleed when poked. They may also order X-rays to see if the
infection has spread to the bone beneath your gums.
Your doctor may check for other symptoms, such
as fever or fatigue. They might also draw your blood to
check for other, possibly undiagnosed conditions. HIV infection and other
immune problems can promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth.
With treatment, trench mouth can typically be
cured in a matter of weeks. Treatment will include antibiotics to stop the
infection from spreading further, pain relievers, professional cleaning from a
dental hygienist, and proper ongoing oral hygiene.
Brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly
twice a day are important for controlling the
symptoms of trench mouth. Warm salt water rinses and rinsing with hydrogen
peroxide can ease the pain of inflamed gums and also help remove dead tissue.
It’s also recommended that you avoid smoking
and hot or spicy foods while your gums heal.
Regular and effective dental care is crucial
for preventing trench mouth from returning. While the condition rarely has serious side effects, ignoring symptoms can lead
to potentially serious complications, such as:
of gum tissue
diseases that can damage bone and gum tissue
To avoid complications of trench mouth, make sure you
take the following steps regularly:
and floss your teeth twice a day, especially after a meal (electric
toothbrushes are recommended)
tobacco products, including cigarettes and chew
a healthy diet
your stress level down
Managing pain during the healing process is
also key. Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen) are
typically enough to control pain, but talk to your doctor before use.
is a serious oral health problem. This advanced infection is relatively rare in
developed countries thanks to access to preventive care. Trench mouth continues
to be an issue in developing nations because of a lack of oral care tools. The
best way to prevent dental problems like trench mouth is to make sure you take
care of your teeth and gums with regular flossing and brushing. You should also
continue to see your dentist twice a year so they can detect any potential problems
before those issues escalate into severe infections.