Mountain Dew Mouth

We’ve all heard that sugary drinks pose health risks, but a new risk has been identified relating to certain regional drinking. The risk is called “Mountain Dew Mouth,” and the name derives from the particularly Appalachian habit of carrying a soda, most frequently the regional favorite Mountain Dew, that is sipped all day.

Public health officials want to address the problem using a combination of public health strategies, including restricting access to sugary drinks for participants in the food stamp program, now called SNAP.

“We are using taxpayer dollars to buy soda for the SNAP program, and we are using taxpayer dollars to rip teeth out of people’s heads who can’t afford dental care and are on Medicaid,” says Dana Singer, a research analyst at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department in Parkersburg, W.Va. “It makes no sense paying for these things twice.”

Researchers have found that drinking more than a single soda a day raises the risks of tooth decay caused by the acids in sodas and energy drinks. In fact, according to an NPR story earlier this year, the “Mountain Dew Mouth” can be as devastating as the tooth decay caused by meth and crack.

Regions typically considered Appalachian, like West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, are particularly hard hit because dental care is not as accessible. In addition, people tend to avoid well water, which can come with pollution risk here, and may be drinking more soft drinks because of it.

Click here and here to read more from NPR.

Ostrich, photograph © Donarreiskoffer / Wikimedia

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