Trench mouth

  • Definition

    Trench mouth is a painful bacterial infection that involves swelling (inflammation) and ulcers in the gums (gingiva).


    Alternative Names

    Vincent's stomatitis; Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Trench mouth is a painful form of gum swelling (gingivitis). The term "trench mouth" comes from World War I, when the disorder was common among soldiers.

    The mouth normally contains a balance of different bacteria. Trench mouth occurs when there are too many normal mouth bacteria. The gums become infected and develop painful ulcers. Viruses may be involved in allowing the bacteria to grow too much.

    Risks include the following:

    • Emotional stress
    • Poor oral hygiene
    • Poor nutrition
    • Smoking
    • Throat, tooth, or mouth infections

    This disorder is rare. When it does occur, trench mouth most often affects persons ages 15 - 35.