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You’ve heard of gingivitis and cavities before, but have you ever heard of a condition known as trench mouth? This severe gum infection occurs when bacteria in the mouth and gums have built up, causing painful, irritated, bleeding gums and ulcers in the mouth. Although it affects less than 1% of the population annually, it’s a serious—yet treatable—condition that requires medical attention. Read on to learn some surprising facts about this lesser known oral ailment!

1. The Name Comes From World War I

During World War I, soldiers were exposed to brutal conditions and often went without medical or dental care. Many soldiers spent months on end living in trenches that were dug into the earth, exposed to the elements and lacking proper military equipment, let alone toothbrushes and toothpaste. As a result of their terrible surroundings, their health suffered and many soldiers developed trench mouth—known officially as Vincent stomatitis or necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis—because of their inability to care for their teeth.

2. Smoking Is A Risk Factor

Along with a poor oral hygiene routine, smoking and tobacco use increase your chances of developing this painful condition. Smokers are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease and other serious problems like trench mouth.

3. It’s Most Common In Young People

The average age of a person with trench mouth is between 15 and 35. That said, people of any age can and do develop this condition.

4. There Are Many Signs Of Trench Mouth

The most notable signs of this condition are painful, irritated gums, bad breath, and ulcers in your mouth that have a gray film over them. You may also experience a fever, swollen glands in your neck, or a metallic taste in your mouth.

5. Diagnosis Will Be Done By Your Dentist

There are several ways your dentist may test you for trench mouth including a visual evaluation, a blood test, or an X-ray. A blood test can help diagnose the exact kind of bacteria causing your problem, and an X-ray will allow your dentist to see if the infection has spread to your bones.

6. Treatment Is Usually Easy

Although trench mouth is painful and can be frightening, the good news is that treatment is usually easy and pain free! Relief can often be found within days of starting treatment and the problem should be cleared entirely in a matter of weeks. Your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection and keep it from spreading, as well as advising you on the best oral health practices to follow at home. A thorough cleaning will be performed at your dentist’s office, and they’ll schedule a follow up appointment to make sure everything is clearing up. Both during and after treatment, it’s vitally important to brush your teeth at least twice daily, floss every day, and use an antibacterial mouthwash to help clear the infection and prevent its return.

While your chance of developing trench mouth may be low, it’s important to known the signs, symptoms, and best ways to avoid it to help keep yourself in the clear!

If you have questions about this painful infection, or would like to simply schedule a routine checkup, give us a call at Trublu Dentistry in Hegewisch, Burbank, or Chicago today!

Be proud of your smile.