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August 29th, 2013

Most periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic, slow progressing condition with few or no symptoms, including an absence of pain.  However, on rare occasion, we see a very painful acute condition known as Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, or ANUG(pronounced AY-nug).  Known in the past as Vincent’s infection (from the bacteria thought to cause the condition) or trench mouth (from the soldiers in the trenches in World War I), it is characterized by very painful gums, bleeding ulcers on the gums and sometimes a low grade fever. We see the problem today mostly in students around final exam time.  They have the same factors as those soldiers in the trenches; High stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, and poor oral hygiene.  This leads to a diminished immune system, allowing the normally chronic infection to become acute.
For the unfortunate sufferers in the past, there was little to be done except topical treatment and rest.  Today, fortunately, we have effective antibiotics to quickly control the infection and relieve the pain.  But the damage done may not be completely reversible.  Some residual gum damage can remain if not treated promptly.  It is important to seek medical or dental treatment as soon as possible.  As always, the best treatment is prevention; Get rest, practice good oral hygiene and watch your diet.

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