Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's Talk Dirty!

Many of you have asked me, “What is Trench Mouth and is it contagious?”  So now it’s time to talk dirty and get the facts out about this terrible sounding condition.

Trench Mouth was a slang term that came into being in the First World War.  The conditions in the trenches were so unsanitary that many diseases flourished in these cesspools.  One of the many problems of the First World War was that many of the soldiers were having big problems with their teeth and ‘gums’ due to the stress of war and the fact that there was no time for hygiene of any kind in the trenches of Europe during this conflict.  The problems the soldiers were having with their mouths in the trenches got the slang name of Trench Mouth but what the soldiers were really suffering from was Periodontal Disease.  Now if you have been diligent in keeping up with Cohen’s Corner, (no; this is not a quiz Susan) you know all about Periodontal Disease.

The main point is that Periodontal Disease, which is a disease of the bone that supports the teeth, is said to be the most wide spread disease in America today.  OK, back to the trenches!  So in the 1914-1918 era in the trenches of Verdun and all around Europe the slang term of Trench Mouth was born.  The people at that time didn’t know much about oral diseases and so they really didn’t know how to treat the disease.  Because of the fact that the soldiers and the medical field didn’t know how to treat Trench Mouth, and the fact that they saw it spreading amongst the soldiers, they assumed it was contagious.  They thought that the trays and forks the soldiers were using were not getting cleaned enough and that was leading to this dreaded disease.  The truth of the matters is that Periodontal Disease (Trench Mouth) is not a contagious disease.

You cannot ‘catch’ Periodontal Disease from somebody else.  The bacteria that causes Periodontal Disease is a normal bacteria found in the human oral cavity.  It is when people don’t brush and floss correctly that the problems occur.  I hope this has cleared up the Trench Mouth question.

Dr. Bruce Cohen DDS

Original Post in our October 2007 Newsletter!

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