Appalachian Kids Losing their Teeth to Mountain Dew MouthAug 24, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
Mountain Dew Mouth is destroying the dental health of countless children in Appalachia. The disorder, which is marked by severe tooth decay, is associated with excessive consumption of the high-caffeine, high-sugar soft drink, coupled with a lack of accessible dental care. In some cases, children and teens with Mountain Dew Mouth exhibit levels of tooth decay and tooth loss usually only seen in senior citizens.
The grinding poverty that plagues so many of Appalachia's children plays a role in the Mountain Dew Mouth phenomena as well. Soft drinks are a cheaper alternative to more nutritious beverages, which according to a 2009 ABC News report, makes them attractive to financially-stressed families. Filling baby bottles with Mountain Dew and feeding it to young babies was also found to be a common practice in Appalachia, the report said.
Mountain Dew contains a higher amount of caffeine than most soft drinks, which some experts say make it addictive. There is some speculation that the caffeine in Mountain Dew also provides a legal - and less expensive - alternative to caffeine pills or anti-depressants.
To cover up the bitter taste of so much caffeine, Mountain Dew contains an astonishing amount of sugar - 11.5 teaspoons per 12 ounce can. That much sugar, along with the addictive caffeine, means excessive amounts of Mountain Dew are fatal to good dental health.
According to the ABC News, some children in Appalachia reported routinely purchasing large bottles of Mountain Dew, which they drink throughout the day. These kids are basically soaking their teeth in sugar all day, dentists say.
Poverty makes everything worse, as many Appalachian families can't afford routine dental care for their kids. The pain caused by their untreated rotting teeth often causes many of these kids to avoid brushing and flossing their teeth.