Hesperian Health Guides
More Serious Gum Disease
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Vincent’s infection of the gums, also called trench mouth, affects both adults and children. In its worst form, it can eat a hole through the cheek of a weak child.
A person with Vincent’s infection may not want to eat because his teeth hurt when he chews food. That can make a child’s malnutrition worse.
You must prevent this problem from starting, especially in a child who is weak from sickness. Teach mothers to clean their children’s teeth and to get their children to rinse their mouths with warm salt water.
- Gums between the teeth are dying and turning gray.
- Pus and old blood collect around the teeth.
- Burning pain from the gums.
- Bleeding from the gums.
- The mouth smells bad.
You will need to see the person over a 2-week period. Start some treatment now:
- If the person is already sick, give penicillin for 7 days.
Clean away the pus, old food, and big pieces of tartar. Then:
- Tell the person to rinse his mouth with warm water.
- Wipe his gums with cotton soaked in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide, iodine, disinfectant mouth wash, or warm salt water. Rinse with warm water. For a child, use a weaker solution, such as 1 part hydrogen peroxide mixed with 5 parts water.
- Scrape away the bigger pieces of tartar. Do not try to remove all of it. You can do that later. Put topical anesthetic on the gums if you have some (first dry the area with cotton so the topical anesthetic will stay longer). Rinse away any loose bits of tartar with warm water.
Teach the person how to care for the gums at home:
For a young child who is not able to rinse, Mother or Father can wipe his gums with the weak solution 4 times a day. Show parents how to do this.
- Rinse at home for 3 days with a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide, iodine, disinfectant mouth wash, or warm salt water. Try to hold the solution in the mouth for several minutes. The longer the solution touches the gums, the better it is for the gums. Rinse once every hour. After 3 days, change to salt water, 4 cups a day.
- Clean the teeth with a soft brush. Parents can clean children’s teeth. Show them how, and ask them to do it even if the gums bleed.
Give them some cotton gauze and hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or disinfectant mouth wash to take home.
Cook food that is soft (like pounded yam) and not spicy (no pepper). Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that give strength to the gums. If you cannot eat well because of pain, take a multi-vitamin, or at least vitamin C and zinc.
- Stop smoking and stop chewing betel nut.
One week later, scrape away the rest of the tartar from the teeth. Then with the person’s own brush show him how to do a better job of cleaning his teeth.