Trench mouth is a type of gingivitis (infection of the gums), which is characterized by severe pain, bleeding of the gums, infection, and ulcers. This condition is not usually seen in our part of the world but is common in the developing nations because of poverty, malnutrition and unhygienic practices.
Trench mouth was so named because it was very common in soldiers during World War I when they lived in trenches for long duration’s and were not able to maintain dental hygiene. The other name of Trench mouth is necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
Although the condition is not contagious but the symptoms become progressively severe and the dentist should be consulted as soon as possible. All types of gum infections are serious, painful and destructive conditions that may cause damage to bony tissues and loss of teeth if not treated. Therefore, early treatment can prevent the progression of the disease and loss of teeth.
Symptoms and Signs
- Extremely painful gums.
- Gums are swollen and red.
- Gums bleed even with little pressure.
- Difficulty and pain while chewing or swallowing.
- Ulcers on the gums and between the teeth.
- Presence of a gray layer on the gums.
- Foul smelling breath and bad taste in the mouth.
- Fever and listlessness.
- Lymph nodes in the neck and jaw areas are swollen.
Causes of Trench Mouth
Normally, the mouth harbors many types of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Under normal circumstances, these microorganisms remain in control and do not produce any disease. When the immune system weakens, these bacteria increase their population and cause infection and disease. If the infection involves the gums, the condition of trench mouth can occur that destroys the gums. The gums are very painful with bleeding ulcers. The exact mechanism of destruction of gums and other tissues is not known but it is believed that the toxins and enzymes produced by the bacteria are responsible for this.
Some factors that can increase the risk of trench mouth are listed below:
- Lack of oral hygiene: If regular and proper cleaning of the teeth isn’t done, plaque starts building up rapidly.
- Malnourishment and malnutrition: If the diet is poor and lacks necessary nutrients and vitamins, the ability of the body to fight infection and disease is greatly reduced.
- Infection of the teeth, mouth or throat: An untreated infection in areas around the gums may develop into trench mouth.
- Use of tobacco: The habit of chewing tobacco or smoking can damage the blood vessels of the gums and cause trench mouth.
- Weak immune system: A person may experience this condition when the immune system is weak due to a chronic disease or because of some medications.
- Stress: Continued and prolonged emotional stress is also a risk factor.