Trench Mouth

Trench mouth, also known as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG), is a bacterial infection of the mouth and gums. Trench mouth is identified by painful swelling, bleeding and ulcers in the gums. It is a severe form of gingivitis.

Causes of Trench Mouth

Not all causes of trench mouth are known, however, it may be caused by:

  • Smoking
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Infections of the throat, mouth, or teeth

Symptoms of Trench Mouth

Trench mouth may be characterized by some of the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Ulcers between the teeth
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Swollen, painful gums that bleed when touched
  • Gray-colored film on the gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the head, neck or jaw

Diagnosis of Trench Mouth

Trench mouth is often diagnosed by an examination of the mouth and a review of the symptoms. In some cases, a throat culture may be performed to determine the severity of the infection. Additionally, dental X-rays may be performed to determine whether tissue and/or bone loss has occurred.

Treatment of Trench Mouth

Trench mouth may be treated with antibiotics to get rid of bacteria and to heal an infection. An antiseptic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine may also be prescribed to decrease bacteria and speed healing. Otherwise, salt water rinses and over-the-counter painkillers are usually sufficient to relieve symptoms. Controlling the pain is important in order to allow the patient to resume good oral hygiene skills. Teeth need to be brushed and flossed as often as possible, at least twice daily, in order to promote healing and prevent reocurrence of trench mouth. Most people recover well from this condition after receiving the appropriate treatment.

Additional Resources