Trench mouth is a serious gum infection that is the result of a buildup of bacteria within the mouth. The most common symptoms of trench mouth are painful and bleeding gums, as well as ulcers on the gum tissue.
A healthy mouth contains a balance of naturally occurring bacteria, viruses, and fungi. If an individual has poor dental health and hygiene practices, harmful bacteria are allowed to grow and flourish. Sensitive, red, and bleeding gums are signs of gum disease known as gingivitis. Trench mouth occurs when gingivitis is left untreated and progresses into a more severe condition.
This condition was referred to as trench mouth dating back to World War I, when soldiers commonly experienced significant gum problems due to the absence of dental care while they were in battle. Trench mouth is more commonly referred to by healthcare professionals as:
● Vincent stomatitis
● Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
● Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
Trench mouth is most commonly seen in teenagers and young adults and while it is a serious condition, it is also relatively rare. Trench mouth is most frequently diagnosed in underdeveloped countries, particularly in areas with limited access to healthcare, poor nutrition, and living conditions.
What Causes Trench Mouth?
Trench mouth is the result of a gum infection caused by excessive amounts of harmful bacteria within the mouth. If gingivitis is already present, there is a higher risk of developing a severe infection.
Some of the other risk factors that have been linked to this condition are:
● Poor nutrition
● Poor dental hygiene
● Excessive stress
● A suppressed or weakened immune system
● infection of the mouth, teeth, or throat
● HIV and AIDS
What are the Symptoms of Trench Mouth?
Recognizing the symptoms of trench mouth is highly important so that you can get treatment as soon as possible. While the symptoms are similar to those related to gingivitis, trench mouth tends to develop and progress at a rapid pace.
The symptoms of trench mouth commonly include:
● Chronic Bad Breath and/or a Bad Taste in the Mouth
● Ulcers in the Mouth
● Bleeding due to Irritation or Pressure
● Painful Gums
● A Grayish Film on Gum Tissue
● Swollen or Red Gums
How is Trench Mouth Diagnosed?
Dentists are usually able to identify and diagnose trench mouth during a routine checkup examination. They may gently apply pressure to the gums to see how easily they bleed. X-rays may also be ordered to discover if the infection has spread to the bone beneath the gum tissue.
Your dentist or other healthcare professional may check for the presence of other symptoms such as pain, fever, or fatigue. They may also want to test your blood to identify whether there are other undiagnosed conditions at play. Conditions that affect the immune system can promote excessive growth of bacteria in the mouth.
How is Trench Mouth Treated?
Trench mouth can usually be cured within a few weeks with proper treatment. Common treatment plans include:
- A round of antibiotics to heal the infection and prevent it from spreading
- Professional dental cleaning
- Pain relievers
- A strong daily oral health care routine
Brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing once per day are important practices to control the bacteria levels within the mouth. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can also help to ease the pain and discomfort of inflamed gums.
How Can Trench Mouth Be Prevented?
Consistent and effective dental care is essential when it comes to preventing trench mouth. When left untreated, trench mouth can lead to serious complications that include:
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Tooth Loss
- Chronic Pain
- Destruction of Gum Tissue
- Oral Diseases that Damage Gum and Bone Tissues
Preventing trench mouth is as simple as ensuring you effectively clean your teeth every day and see your dentist regularly. Make sure you do the following daily:
- Brush Twice Daily
- Floss Once per Day
- Avoid Tobacco Products
- Maintain a Healthy Diet
- Managing Stress Levels
- Seeing your Dentist Every 6 Months for Routine Checkups and Cleanings
The Bottom Line
Trench mouth is a severe oral health condition. This type of oral infection is somewhat rare in areas where preventative care is accessible. Preventing trench mouth is as simple as ensuring you are flossing and brushing daily, and seeing your dentist regularly so they can detect any changes in your mouth. If you want to learn more about trench mouth treatment and prevention or to book your appointment, contact our Guelph dentist’s office today!