Trench mouth

Trench mouth is a severe form of gingivitis that causes painful, infected, bleeding gums and ulcerations. Although trench mouth is rare today in developed nations, it's common in developing countries that have poor nutrition and poor living conditions.

Trench mouth, also known as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG), earned its nickname because of its prevalence among soldiers who were stuck in the trenches during World War I without the means to properly take care of their teeth. Trench mouth is not contagious.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms of trench mouth can include:

  • Severe gum pain
  • Bleeding from gums when they're pressed even slightly
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Pain when eating or swallowing
  • Gray film on your gums
  • Crater-like sores (ulcers) between your teeth and on your gums
  • Foul taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Fever and fatigue (malaise)
  • Swollen lymph nodes around your head, neck or jaw

When to see a dentist

Trench mouth symptoms can develop quickly. See your dentist immediately if you develop any symptoms. Often these may be symptoms of a gum problem other than trench mouth, such as another form of gingivitis or a gum infection called periodontitis.

All forms of gum disease can be serious, and most tend to get worse without treatment. The sooner you seek care, the better your chance of returning your gums to a healthy state and preventing permanent loss of teeth and destruction of bone or other tissue.

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