The services offered by modern dental surgeries have come a long way from the days when the best that could be expected was an extraction or a filling. A state of the art surgery will now boast the ambience of an upmarket health spa rather than a place dealing with medical emergencies and will offer a range of treatments designed to stop dental problems occurring in the first place and to deal with a huge range of aesthetic issues. You can visit an orthodontist in Putney, for example, and have your teeth shifted, straightened and utterly transformed. Despite these advances, and the use of cutting edge technology such as lasers, 3D imaging and even nanotechnologies, there are still age old conditions around which have to be dealt with. One of these is the very unpleasant sounding Trench Mouth, a condition which got its’ name during the First World War. As might be guessed, it was a problem which used to afflict soldiers fighting in the trenches during the war, and came about because they didn’t have the resources or indeed time to take care of their teeth. Its actual name is Vincent’s stomatitis, or necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, and it is related to other more well-known infections of the mouth such as gingivitis or periodontitis. In simple terms it is an extreme version of gum disease and, although it is now pretty rare in the developed world it does still occur and so it is vital that patients learn to recognise the signs and symptoms.
The over-riding cause of Trench Mouth is an imbalance in the bacteria present in the mouth. Every mouth contains a multitude of bacteria, good and bad, and the key to oral health is to keep these different bacteria in the correct proportions. If the relevant bacteria are allowed to build up they will attack the tissue of the patients’ gums, causing infection to set in and leading to the development of painful swollen ulcers. If Trench Mouth affects a patient it can come on very suddenly and be extremely painful. There are several symptoms to watch out for when monitoring for signs of Trench Mouth and amongst them are the following:
Large swellings or ulcers between the teeth. These ulcers will fill with particles of food, bacteria and the damaged tissue of the gums.
A grey coloured film coating the enamel of the teeth. This film is made up of gum tissue which has decomposed.
- Unpleasant smelling breath
- Gums which become extremely swollen and tender
- Gums which bleed heavily when irritated
- A nasty taste in the mouth
In some cases, the patient may also go on to develop a fever and suffer from swollen lymph nodes in their head and neck.
The chief cause of Trench Mouth is known to be poor dental hygiene and inadequate levels of nutrition, but scientists also believe that viral infection might play a part in allowing the bacteria to take root and multiply, and this means that patients who have problems with their immune system may be more at risk. Other contributing factors are smoking and high levels of stress. If you’re worried that you might be developing Trench Mouth then you should visit your dentist at the earliest possibility. If left untreated it can spread to the jawbone, lips or cheeks.