Tooth Decay From Soda Common In Appalachia

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Dentists warn patients to stay away from sodas, but people who live in southeast Ohio and West Virginia are some of the heaviest consumers of the drinks.

"Mountain Dew mouth" is a term coined by dentists who say it causes tooth decay and toothlessness due to drinking excessive amounts of soda.

Studies show that Appalachian residents have higher rates of tooth decay because of poor dental hygiene and constant consumption of sugary drinks.

Gregory Linscott is an Athens dentist who said he sees someone at least once a day with Mountain Dew mouth.

"With all the sugar and all the acid, it actually dissolves and de-calcifies the enamel allowing the bacteria to progress and cause simple cavities," said Linscott.

A 20 ounce bottle of Mountain Dew contains 77 grams of sugar and twice the amount of caffeine compared to other sodas.

To curb this phenomenon of excessive soda consumption, a Kentucky dentist has started a mobile unit to provide free dental screenings and services to school-aged children in the state.

Edwin Smith travels around 16 eastern Kentucky counties with his mobile unit, Kids First Dental Care. 

"What we noticed is that children weren't getting care that they needed," said Jamie Young, Kids First Dental Care coordinator. "What we do is send a form out to their parents and we do services of x-rays, exams, cleaning, fluoride treatments and then from there each child gets a letter in the mail with their treatment plan and a list of dentists in the area so they can get in and give them the treatment that they need."

Linscott said it's not only your mouth that can be affected by soda.

"These people that drink massive sodas, it's very hard on kidneys. It can cause kidneys stones, and it can shut down kidneys in extreme cases," he said.

If a person has a difficult time giving up soda, Linscott said they should rinse their mouth with water periodically to help reduce the chemicals soda leaves behind. He said they should also rinse their mouth with hydrogen peroxide, which serves as a teeth whitening agent and kills bacteria.

Dental experts say that it will take about two years for a person’s mouth to return to normal after cutting out soda completely.