Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (ANUG) is a severe inflammation of the gingiva (gums), characterized by swollen gums, the formation of ulcers, sloughing of dead tissue, intense pain, fever and foul breath. The disease was formerly known as "trench mouth" because it was prevalent in soldiers fighting in the trenches in WWI. Originally thought to be contagious for the same reason, the cause of ANUG is poor oral hygiene, deficient nutrition and emotional stress. The soldiers in crowded conditions commonly experienced these maladies, giving rise to the misconception. ANUG, also called Vincent's angina or Vincent's stomatitis after the French physician Henri Vincent (1862-1950), is not contagious.
The immediate treatment goal is to provide relief from mouth pain. Removal of the soft film of food debris and oral bacteria (plaque) is attained with oral irrigation, antibacterial mouth rinses and dental hygiene instruction. In severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed. Gentle debridement of the hard deposits of calculus (tartar) from the teeth and soft tissues is usually followed by more rigorous scaling, often with a local anesthetic. Sometimes it is necessary to scrape the inflamed surface tissue to restore gingival health.
With the dissemination of dental hygiene education in industrial nations, ANUG is rarely encountered today. It is more commonly seen among indigent populations with little or no access to dental care. On occasion, even well-educated people, under conditions of hardship or duress, and those suffering from severe medical disorders or immune deficiencies may experience an underlying gingivitis (inflamed, bleeding gums) worsen into ANUG in a matter of days.
A bout of ANUG may be accompanied by cold sores on lips or aphthous ulcers of the oral mucosa.
Naturally, prevention is the best means to avoid this painful condition. Regular tooth brushing, flossing and professional check-ups will inhibit ANUG and other dental disease.
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