|Description:||This 1950s photograph depicted an example of acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also known as “trench mouth.” The symptoms of this bacterial infection include inflamed, bleeding gums, which if left untreated, progress to large ulcerations on the gums, especially in the areas between the teeth. The ulcers are extremely painful, can cause bad breath, and leave a foul taste in the mouth.|
This disease got its colloquial name, “trench mouth,” because it was prevalent among front line soldiers during the First World War. Although less common today, trench mouth still affects thousands of young adults between 15 and 35 years of age. The exact cause of the disease, also known as “Vincent’s stomatitis”, is not completely understood, but the conditions in which it develops seem to include poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, and stress. These factors disrupt the balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria in the mouth. If left untreated, it can spread to other areas of the oral cavity. This image was part of a Minnesota Health Department campaign to promote good oral health.