Trench mouth

Fact Checked

Trench mouth is a painful bacterial infection that causes swelling or inflammation along with ulcer formation in the gums. Trench mouth is a severe form of gingivitis that causes infection, pain, ulcerations and bleeding gums. It usually affects people with poor nutrition and poor living conditions.

Trench mouth is also known as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis and its name was derived from soldiers who were stuck in the trenches during World War I without any means of proper dental care. Luckily, this condition is not contagious.


Trench mouth
Maintain good oral hygiene regularly, 
  • Crater-like ulcers that develops between the teeth and gums
  • Bad breath
  • Fever and fatigue or malaise
  • Gums appear reddened and swollen
  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Pain in the gums
  • Grayish film on the gums
  • Severe bleeding as a reaction to any pressure or irritation
  • Pain when eating or swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the neck, head and jaw


  • The mouth normally contains different bacteria and the condition develops when the normal mouth bacteria are abundant. The gums become infected and develop painful ulcers.
  • Trench mouth can be caused by emotional stress.
  • Poor nutrition and oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Tooth, throat and mouth infections


  • Take the prescribed antibiotic if there is fever.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene regularly, brush and floss the teeth thoroughly at least 2 times every day especially after each meal and at bedtime to prevent development of trench mouth.
  • Prepare a salt water rinse by mixing ½ teaspoon salt and a cup of water and rinse the mouth using this solution to help in soothing the sore gums. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used in rinsing the gums to help with the removal of dead or dying tissues of the gums.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications such as analgesics to lessen the discomfort caused by trench mouth. Apply lidocaine to the gums if there is severe pain.
  • Visit the dentist regularly to have the teeth cleaned and remove plaque once the gums become tender.


  • Maintain good general health such as proper nutrition and regular exercises. Eat a healthy diet by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. Eat whole grains instead of refined grains and increase the consumption of proteins such as fish or legumes and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Minimize stress by performing relaxation techniques, yoga and regular exercises. Maintain a hobby in a healthy way to cope up with stress.
  • Avoid exposure to irritants such as smoke and avoid eating hot or spicy foods.
  • Brushing and flossing at least 2 times every day or as often as needed. Maintain regular dental cleaning and use antiseptic mouthwashes.
  • Stop smoking or using tobacco products to prevent the development of trench mouth.
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