Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Several factors can increase your risk of developing trench mouth by allowing harmful bacteria to grow out of control, including:
- Poor oral hygiene. Failing to brush and floss regularly can lead to a buildup of plaque and debris that help harmful bacteria thrive.
- Poor nutrition. Not getting enough nutrients can make it difficult for your body to fight infection. Malnourished children in developing countries are particularly at risk of trench mouth.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco. These can harm the blood vessels of your gums, making it easier for bacteria to thrive.
- Throat, tooth or mouth infections. If you already have an active infection, such as gingivitis, and don't treat it effectively, the infection can progress into trench mouth.
- Emotional stress. Emotional stress can weaken your immune system, making it difficult for your body's natural defenses to keep harmful bacteria in check.
- Compromised immune system. People with illnesses that weaken the immune system or who are undergoing treatment that can suppress the immune system are at higher risk because their bodies may not be able to fight infections well. These may include people with HIV/AIDS, cancer or mononucleosis.
Trench mouth can occur at any age, although it's rare today in developed nations, especially with the availability of antibiotics. In developing countries where malnutrition is common and sanitation and good oral hygiene are lacking, trench mouth is more prevalent.
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