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Trench Mouth

What is Trench Mouth?

ANUG, Trench Mouth

Now considered rare, trench mouth is a severe (yet reversible) inflammation of the gums.

Trench mouth (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis or ANUG) is a severe yet reversible inflammation of the gums (gingiva). It is believed to be caused by an overabundance of normal bacteria coupled with poor hygiene; poor nutrition and/or vitamin deficiency; stress; smoking and, in severe cases, possible immune suppression. The Gram-negative spirochete, Borrelia vincentii is found in high numbers acting together with Fusobacterium species (Gram-negative aneaerobic) bacteria. Patients with the condition are often debilitated.

The term “trench mouth” originated after the many soldiers in World War I who were observed to have the condition. It is also known as Vincent’s Disease after the physician who first identified the disease. Trench mouth is now considered rare, but lower-grade variations of the condition probably exist.

How does the dentist diagnose Trench Mouth?

Note: ToothIQ.com contains general information. Only a dentist can properly diagnose your specific condition.

Trench mouth is characterized by ulceration, blueness or redness, and the normal contour of the gums around the teeth is lost as the gums swell. There is generally a whitish-gray membrane present on areas of the gums. Spontaneous bleeding, significant pain, feeling poorly (general malaise) and severe bad breath are all present. Blood cultures typically show an increased white blood cell count.

How is Trench Mouth treated?

Because of the degree of pain which frequently accompanies this condition, patients with trench mouth usually find it difficult to brush their teeth, and may need to rinse their mouth several times a day with dilute hydrogen peroxide and/or warm salt water before they can comfortably brush and floss.

Improved nutrition and vitamin supplementation may be necessary to help the patient re-establish good general health. Antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce the amount of bacteria present in the mouth. Thorough debridement may require the use of local anesthetic to be performed comfortably. The patient may need to be sedated for cleaning procedures to be performed comfortably.

Typically the condition resolves once the patient’s general health and oral hygiene have improved.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on March 6, 2018.

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