Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) is a severe form of gum disease that is caused by a combination of poor oral hygiene and a suppressed immune system. Here's what you need to know about this scary gum disease.
Why does it develop?
Gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. When you eat, plaque builds up on your teeth. Plaque is soft and easy to remove with a toothbrush and floss, but only if you act quickly. In as little as 48 hours, plaque hardens into tartar, a bacteria-filled substance which is very hard to remove.
The bacteria in the tartar irritates your gum tissue and causes an infection. If your immune response is suppressed, for example, by stress or disease, mild gum disease (gingivitis) can quickly turn into acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
How does ANUG differ from gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that causes red, swollen gums that may bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. ANUG is a much more serious condition. The bacteria do much more than just irritate your gums; they cause your gums to break down, or necrotize. This causes severe pain, and you may notice a grey film on your gums. You may also develop ulcers. These are wounds that look like small craters, and you may find them between your teeth or on your gum line.
ANUG also causes very bad breath as well as a bad taste in your mouth that you won't be able to get rid of by brushing your teeth or using mouthwash. This is because your gum tissue is being eaten away by the bacteria in your tartar.
How common is it?
ANUG is a very rare type of gum disease. Studies have shown that about 0.6% of people in North America have this condition. It is rare because most people's immune systems are strong enough to fight it off. Most of the people who have this condition are immunocompromised, either from severe stress, smoking, or from diseases such as leukemia or HIV.
Can it be treated?
This condition can be treated, and treatment is usually successful as long as it's started soon after the symptoms start.
First, your dentist will perform a procedure called scaling and root planing. This is a deep cleaning procedure that will remove all of the tartar from your teeth. Your dentist will remove plaque from the surface of your teeth, from underneath your gum line, and even from the roots of your teeth. This thorough cleaning is sometimes enough to stop the infection.
In other cases, antibiotics are required. Antibiotics can successfully treat serious cases that weren't cured by deep cleaning alone.
In addition to deep cleaning and antibiotics, you may need to have some of your gum tissue surgically removed. Any tissue that is seriously damaged or dead will be removed, which will keep the infection from spreading to your healthy gum tissue.
What happens if it's not treated?
If you don't seek treatment right away, the infection can spread from your gums to your jaw bone. If your bone tissue is destroyed, there will be nothing to support your teeth, and you'll lose your teeth.
Losing your teeth isn't the worst part. The infection can also lead to gangrene of the surrounding tissues, such as the lips or cheeks. Gangrene causes your tissues to turn black and die, and once this happens, the affected tissue needs to be removed.
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is a serious dental problem, and if you think you have it, you need to discover more here and see your dentist immediately. It can be successfully treated, but only if you act quickly.