Trench Mouth And Smoking: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 31 March 2016


While smoking continues to decline within the American adult population, there are still 40 million adults smoking in the United States. Smoking causes a range of serious health issues, including problems with oral and dental health that include a condition that people commonly refer to as trench mouth. Find out why smokers are more susceptible to trench mouth, and learn more about the steps you may need to take if you suffer from this condition.

Trench mouth causes

A healthy human mouth normally contains millions of different bacteria, but various factors can cause overgrowth of these microbes. If the bacterial balance in your mouth changes, your gums can quickly become more susceptible to an infection. Trench mouth can occur when there are too many bacteria in your mouth.

The medical name for trench mouth is acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis – or ANUG. Another name for the disease is Vincent's disease, named after Dr H Vincent, a French physician of the early twentieth century. The name 'trench mouth' originates from World War I, when soldiers fighting in the trenches were particularly susceptible to the complaint. Poor dental hygiene, coupled with dietary issues and high stress levels, meant that many soldiers quickly succumbed to this issue. What's more, at this time, many of these soldiers smoked heavily, and smoking can quickly increase the risk of trench mouth.

Why smoking can lead to trench mouth

Smokers are at higher risk of trench mouth than other people. Regular tobacco smoking tends to interfere with normal saliva production, which, in turn, can lead to dry mouth. When this happens, the normal bacterial balance in your mouth can quickly change, increasing the risk of infection.

What's more, smokers often experience problems with their immune systems, which weaken due to the poisonous chemicals in the body. A weakened immune system makes it harder for the body to fight off an infection without medication, making smokers even more susceptible to trench mouth.

Symptoms to look out for

Trench mouth causes severe, painful symptoms that, if left untreated, can lead to serious dental problems. The acute nature of trench mouth means that the symptoms can appear quite suddenly, although smokers often have general problems with dental hygiene before the condition develops. Trench mouth occurs when the gum tissue starts to die, leading to ulcerated and discolored patches between the teeth. These swollen patches are liable to bleed with the slightest pressure, and it can become extremely difficult to brush or floss your teeth without severe pain.

Smokers are often prone to bad breath, but anyone with trench mouth is liable to particularly unpleasant mouth odor. This type of severe bad breath is also likely to leave a nasty taste in your mouth and can sometimes make it hard to taste food and drink normally.

Treatment options

Dentists refer to the bacteria that cause trench mouth as fusiforms and spirochetes. While these bacteria can quickly cause an infection, the good news is that fusiforms and spirochetes also respond well to treatment.

It's important to seek dental treatment as soon as you spot any signs of trench mouth. A dentist can normally treat the condition easily with a course of antibiotics, which you will normally need to take as a tablet. Severe symptoms may need other forms of treatment. A prescription antibacterial mouth rinse can help ease swelling, and you may also need to take painkillers until the symptoms subside.

Long-term complications

Trench mouth normally starts as an acute condition, which means that, with the right treatment, your dentist can probably reverse the symptoms. However, left untreated, the gingival tissues may no longer heal, which can lead to permanent gum damage or loss. When trench mouth develops into a chronic condition, you may ultimately start to lose your teeth.

What's more, while acute trench mouth is normally reversible, the condition can also easily return, especially if you continue to smoke. As such, your dentist will always recommend that you talk to your doctor about the help you need to give up this unhealthy habit.

Trench mouth is an unpleasant, painful condition that can make life difficult for smokers. Talk to your family dentist for more advice and information about how to treat and/or prevent this disease. You can go to this web-site to learn more about dental services in your area.