Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, also known as ANUG and Trench Mouth, is a serious infection of the gums. ANUG can cause ulcers, dead tissues and swelling in the mouth. This severe form of gingivitis is rare in developed countries, but common in regions with poor living conditions and nutrition.
ANUG is often referred to as Trench Mouth because it was prevalent with soldiers who were stationed in trenches during World War I. Because soldiers did not have access to dental care, ANUG was commonplace. The condition is not contagious and is typically caused by an excessive amount of bacteria in the mouth.
What Are The Main Symptoms?
Common symptoms associated with ANUG are:
- Gum pain
- Infections in the mouth, throat and teeth
- Inflamed gums
- Ulcers (sores) on the gums
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Gray film on the gums
- Bad breath
- Metallic taste in the mouth
ANUG can cause a person to experience tooth loss or the condition can cause severe damage to the bone. Some people may also experience pain while they are brushing their teeth, difficulty eating, or gum tissue damage.
Who is at Risk?
There are numerous factors that can increase your risk of developing trench mouth, including:
- Poor dental hygiene – Not flushing or flossing on a regular basis can cause bacteria, debris and plaque to build up.
- Nutritional deficiencies – If your body is not receiving all of the nutrients it needs, your immune system will have a difficult time fighting off an infection. For this reason, children who are malnourished are at the greatest risk for developing ANUG.
- Smoking – Smoking damages the blood vessels in your gums and makes it easier for bacteria to thrive in your mouth.
- Stress – Stress can take a major toll on your immune system and make it difficult for your body to fight off an infection.
- Weakened immune system – Certain diseases and medical treatments can weaken the immune system and put a person at great risk for ANUG. Those with mononucleosis, cancer and HIV/AIDS are most at risk.
ANUG can affect a person at any age, but ANUG tends to be most common in children and the elderly.
Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis Treatment
Before treatment can be administered, your dentist will need to diagnose you with ANUG first. Because this condition is visually noticeable, diagnosis can often be done by simply examining your teeth and gums. In some cases, an X-ray may be needed to see if any bone loss has occurred.
If your dentist is unsure of why you have developed trench mouth, he or she may refer you to your primary care physician for additional blood work and exams. You may have an undiagnosed condition that has contributed to the infection.
ANUG may be painful and severe, but treatment is highly effective. In fact, the healing process is usually complete within just a few weeks. If a weakened immune system caused the infection, it may take a little bit longer to heal.
The most common treatment options for trench mouth are:
- Pain relievers
- Antiseptic mouthwash
Some dentists may recommend diet changes to address any nutritional deficiencies you may have. Regular dental cleanings are also recommended. In severe cases, your dentist may need to perform surgery to correct the damage caused by the infection.
While your gums are healing, it’s important to take good care of your mouth. This will minimize discomfort and help speed up the healing process. Here are some tips:
- Avoid tobacco products.
- Try following a liquid diet during the first few days of treatment. This will minimize the pain.
- Avoid spicy foods as they can irritate the gums.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Drink water to stay hydrated.
Always visit your doctor first.