The number of people in the Appalachians that consume Mountain Dew is increasingly experiencing rotted teeth. Public health advocates are recommending that the people consume less Mountain Dew, which may not be easy considering it is the region’s favorite drink.
One proposed solution would be to impose some kind of limit of soda for food stamp purchases. Despite what many people in the soda industry claim, dentists are unanimous about the negative impact the acid and sugar from soda have on a person’s teeth.
There are even some similarities regarding the results drugs such as methamphetamine or crack have on teeth when compared to soda. The more soda one consumes, the greater the chance there will be of irrevocably hurting enamel.
The problem with Mountain Dew consumption in Appalachia is exacerbated by the number of poor residents and the long distance it may take to visit the nearest dentist. Some people could also be concerned with the cleanliness of the well water they drink, so they turn to soda.
There’s also the Appalachian habit of carrying around a bottle of Mountain Dew the same way most people would carry a bottle of water. As a result, people are sipping on Mountain Dew throughout the day.
The numbers don’t lie, either. About 26 percent of Appalachian preschoolers have some type of tooth decay and 15 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have a had a tooth extracted based on decay or erosion, according to Dana Singer, a research analyst at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department in Parkersburg, W. Va.
Also, around two-thirds of West Virginians 65 or older have lost a minimum of six teeth because of tooth decay or gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on information from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the federal government is spending $2.1 billion on soda though programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—formerly food stamps. Several states have proposed legislation that would curb the ability to buy soda through the SNAP program.
But the best way to reduce Mountain Dew consumption is to educate people about the damage soda can cause to one’s teeth.