Trench Mouth: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Trench mouth is one of the most painful types of gum disease. Your mouth is home to various types of microorganisms- bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which are healthy.

Sometimes, due to various reasons, harmful bacteria accumulate in the oral cavity which leads to red, pain, and bleeding gums with ulceration and swelling. This condition is called trench mouth.

It is also known as:

– acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis

– acute membranous gingivitis

– vincent stomatitis

Though uncommon, it is a very serious condition. It is prominent in areas where nutrition and hygiene is not given importance. Lack of dental hygiene is the basic cause of this disease.

According to Healthline, soldiers during world war I, experienced such gum problems commonly because they did not have time for proper oral care. This is from where it receives its name.

What Causes The Trench Mouth?

Trench mouth is a result of the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the mouth due to poor dental hygiene.

It occurs the most in people who are already infected with gingivitis. It is more common in young people.

Common causes for trench mouth are:

– Smoking

– Physical or emotional stress

– Poor dental care

– Lack of proper nutrition and balanced diet

– Weak immunity

– Diseases such as diabetes or AIDS

– Throat infection

It disturbs lifestyle and should be treated immediately. If not taken proper care and medication, it can lead to severe problems and ultimately tooth loss.

How Is Trench Mouth Diagnosed?

Trench mouth is very painful and harmful which is why it must be diagnosed and treated as early as possible with the help of symptoms experienced. These are similar to those of gingivitis but in an advanced form.

Symptoms associated are :

  • Bleeding of gums while applying pressure or even brushing
  • Fatigue and fever are associated with it
  • Gums are ulcerated and swollen
  • Grayish film present over the gums
  • Extremely foul smell of breath
  • Gums are red and painful

Dentists examine and diagnose this disease with the help of symptoms.

Whenever dentists come in contact with a patient with very bad breath, they suspect trench mouth.

Techniques can also be applied such as they apply mild pressure on the gums such as that with poking to check if it bleeds that easily.

Other symptoms are also evaluated such as fever or fatigue. X-rays can be done, in order to check up on the growth and spread of bacteria in the buccal cavity including deeper tissues, to determine the severity.

Blood test might be required for immunity check-up as well as for infections such as HIV which can lead to ANUG.

Dentists also examine if the gums are swollen and there is the presence of crater like ulcers.There is also damaged gum tissue around the teeth.

You must consult a specialist immediately for diagnosis on time so that treatment can begin.

How Is Trench Mouth Treated?

It takes a few weeks for ANUG or trench mouth to be treated completely. The goal of the treatment is to relieve you from the symptoms of this disease.

Methods include-

– Antibiotics to prevent further advancement of bacteria and for fever

– Painkillers or over-the-counter medicines

– Getting teeth cleaned and plaque removed by a medical expert

– Good oral hygiene routine

– Saltwater rinse can give a soothing sensation to inflamed gums

How Can Trench Mouth Be Prevented?

Prevention is better than cure, is what we have all heard. Although it is rare, mending a few habits and lifestyle changes can help cut the risk of this trench mouth.

It is better to avoid such cases because they can lead to complications like-

– tooth loss

– more oral diseases

– damage to the gum tissue

– intense pain

– dehydration and weight loss

To entirely prevent the occurrence of this condition, you can take some measures such as-

– Brushing and flossing teeth twice a day

– Maintaining proper nutrition and a balanced diet

– Getting rid of habits such as smoking and tobacco

– Managing stress

– Routine dental check-ups

– Good immunity


Trench mouth is rare and can result due to various causes. Gingivitis can advance due to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria leading to this condition.

It mostly occurs where there is a lack of proper cleanliness and knowledge.You should see the doctor when you experience symptoms for its early treatment.

It has no particular side effects and can be healed within weeks if correct methods are applied.

Even after treatment, a hygienic lifestyle should be maintained to prevent further occurrence of this disease.

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