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Trench Mouth

Overview

Trench mouth is a severe form of gingivitis. The condition causes painful, infected, bleeding gums and ulcerations. Trench mouth was earlier known as Vincent's stomatitis, acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) and necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG). It was termed as 'trench mouth', when it was commonly seen in soldiers stuck in the trenches during World War I, as they could not take good care of their teeth. Trench mouth is more common in places with poor nutrition and poor living conditions.


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Causes

The mouth is naturally full of microorganisms, including fungi, viruses and bacteria, that is beneficial for our system. In trench mouth, there is uncontrolable over growth of harmful bacteria. This causes infection in the gums. The infection can damage or destroy the gum tissue (gingiva) that surrounds and supports the teeth. Large ulcers, often filled with bacteria, food debris and decaying tissue, may form on gums, leading to severe pain, bad breath and a foul taste in the mouth.

Though the exact cause is not known, but it is believed that enzymes and toxins produced by the bacteria play a role in destroying the gum tissue.


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Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of trench mouth can include:

    * Severe gum pain
    * Bleeding from gums when pressed even slightly
    * Red or swollen gums
    * Pain when eating or swallowing
    * A gray film on your gums
    * Crater-like sores (ulcers) between your teeth and on your gums
    * A foul taste in your mouth
    * Bad breath
    * Fever
    * Swollen lymph nodes around your head, neck or jaw

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Prevention

Good oral hygiene, nutrition and overall good healthy habits can help in reducing the risk of developing trench mouth. Following measures can be beneficial:
    * Practice good oral hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Getting dental check ups and using antibacterial mouth wash, as directed by the dentist.
    * Not smoking and avoiding tobacco products
    * Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy foods.
    * Stress should be managed as it takes one's physical as well as emotional toll. Exercise, relaxation therapies, hobbies and yoga can help cope with stress.


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Treatments
Antibiotic Modern Medicine

Trench mouth can be treated with medications effectively in a couple of weeks.

Since there is overgrowth of bacteria, antibiotics are often prescribed to eradicate the bacteria and prevent spreading of infection. Pain relievers, oral or topical, can also be given to control the pain.
A thorough but gentle cleaning of teeth and gums is important in treatment. The dead gum tissue (debridement) is removed to reduce the pain, followed by rinsing with an antiseptic solution. Plaque and tartar is also removed by scaling and root planing.
If there is extensive damage, a surgery maybe required.

Salt water rinses (one-half teaspoon of salt in one cup of water) may be soothing to sore gums. Hydrogen peroxide, used to rinse or irrigate the gums, is often recommended to remove decayed gum tissue.

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