Appalachia Epicenter of Mountain Dew Mouth Epidemic

Something known as <"">“Mountain Dew Mouth” is rotting children’s teeth in poor regions of the country, especially Appalachia. According to a report from, many children and adolescents in Appalachia routinely purchase large bottles of Mountain Dew and take frequent sips, which some dental experts say is the equivalent of bathing teeth in sugar for eight hours a day.

Mountain Dew Mouth got a great deal of publicity a few years ago, when ABC News aired a series of reports about poverty in Appalachia.

“It’s just rampant decay,” Dr. Stacie Moore-Martin of the Mud Creek Clinic in Grethel, Kentucky Diane Sawyer in one of the reports. “People are addicted to Mountain Dew. It’s terrible.”

According to a 2001 report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, while all soft drinks can cause tooth decay, dentists say Mountain Dew poses bigger risks than others because of its high caffeine and sugar content. The soft drink’s astonishing amount of sugar – 11.5 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounce can – covers a bitter test that comes from its high caffeine dose.

Some experts suspect the sugary nature of Mountain Dew contributes to its appeal, and consequently to the increasing incidents of Mountain Dew Mouth, said. The higher caffeine levels in the beverage also provide a legal alternative to caffeine pills or anti-depressants.

According to the ABC News report, some children in Appalachia reported routinely purchasing large bottles of Mountain Dew, which they drink throughout the day. Filling baby bottles with Mountain Dew and feeding it to young babies was also found to be a common practice. Dentists who serve the area said they have seen a level of tooth decay and tooth loss in children there that is more commonly found in senior citizens.

The problem is made worse by grinding poverty that makes routine dental care inaccessible to many. Often, people in these areas rely on mobile clinics for dental care, and years can pass between checkups.

When ABC News first reported on the phenomena of Mountain Dew Mouth, PepsiCo. blasted the network. “This is old, irresponsible news,” the company said in a statement. “It is preposterous to blame soft drinks or any one food for poor dental health.” The statement actually argued that the problem could be caused by “sticky foods like raisins.”

But the company changed its tune when the report sparked a public outcry. Then PepsiCo. issued a second statement stating its products could be part of a balanced diet if consumed in moderation, and it promised to work with schools and other organizations to educate people and encourage them to lead healthier lifestyles.

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