By Carol Gioia
Mountain Dew soda, a product of the Pepsi Company, has been deemed the culprit in creating a high incidence of severe tooth decay in children from extremely poor regions, such as Appalachia, where there is often little resources or opportunity for routine dental care.
A 20 ounce bottle of Mountain Dew contains 19 teaspoons of sugar, 93 milligrams of caffeine and acid that causes enamel erosion. Thus the dental community’s coined phrase, “Mountain Dew Mouth.” (Equally detrimental is the consumption of the caffeine content in a 20 ounce bottle, which is equivalent to taking a half tablet of NoDoz.)
In 2009, ABC news network aired a program discussing the problem of severe tooth decay among the poor children in the Appalachian mountain region. The ABC news video on “Mobile Clinic treats Mountain Dew Mouth,” and accompanying article.
In the wake of the documentary, Pepsi Cola company issued a statement saying that their product could not be blamed for the poor oral hygiene of the people in Appalachia. The company’s premise was that the children needed to be taught to brush frequently, and floss regularly, in order to avoid tooth decay.
Subsequently, the company had a change of heart and publicized that they would contribute to helping the people of Appalachia with their dental needs.
Mountain Dew is sweet and kids love it. They sip it in school, during after school activities and in the evening while watching television. Sipping Mountain Dew in this manner, throughout the day, is equivalent to soaking the teeth in sugar.
Tooth decay is not just a problem for the children of poverty stricken Appalachia, but for children everywhere. Sugar laden soft drinks and snacks are available for consumption everywhere that children gather. Schools allow the presence of commercial candy and pop vending machines, as do after school activity venues, and many middle and upper class homes keep a handy supply in their refrigerators and cupboards to satisfy their child’s sweet tooth.
Avoiding tooth decay is possible with daily brushing after meals and at bedtime, routine flossing and regular dental check-ups. Most parents recognize the importance of scrupulous oral hygiene, but how to instill the healthy habit into their children’s daily behavior is another matter.
There should be more programs like the one offered by ABC in 2009, shown on a current and regular basis, in order to educate families about the causes and prevention of tooth decay, fostering good dental hygiene practices and helping families to avoid problems such as “Mountain Dew mouth.”
From helium.com April 21, 2011