What is Trench Mouth?

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Trench mouth is a highly painful and serious kind of gum disease (gingivitis). The infection of the gums happens due to the high levels of bacteria living in the mouth and tends to affect those who have poor oral hygiene. Trench mouth got its name due to the fact that it was highly prevalent amongst soldiers in World War I. As they were stationed in trenches for weeks at a time, soldiers were often unable to keep their teeth in good shape, allowing infection to take hold. In modern times, Trench mouth is rarely seen in developed countries but is very common in individuals living in impoverished circumstances. Trench mouth can also be referred to as Vincent’s Stomatitis and Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis.

As mentioned, trench mouth is rarely seen in developed countries. It is causes severe pain which will only get worse if left untreated, and in the most serious cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body. Trench mouth tends to develop when the bacteria in your mouth begin to grow exponentially due to a lack of oral hygiene. This out of control bacteria causes the infection which then goes on to cause significant damage to the gum tissues. Trench mouth is often characterised by the development of ulcers which contain food debris and rotting tissue.

Fortunately, trench mouth is highly treatable. It is easy for a dental professional to spot the problem with a detailed oral examination, but some patients may require X-ray photographs so that the amount of damage can be assessed. In more serious cases, blood tests may be needed to check that the infection hasn't spread to different parts of the body. The first step in combating the infection is a course of antibiotics which will eradicate the bacteria as well as containing the spread of the infection. It is also normal to be prescribed some painkillers to help with the discomfort and pain associated with the condition. You will also need to carry on with regular oral care such as brushing and flossing or else the condition may reappear.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »