Ain’t It A Shame

I thought of the title of the old Fats Domino song recently as my Flax Dental staff and I watched Diane Sawyer’s recent show on ABC’s Good Morning and 20/20 ” Heroes of the Hills”  As we watched the film, you see young children in the poorest parts of Appalachia drinking Mountain Dew soft drinks like most kids have milk.

The Results: rampant tooth decay that ultimately leads to tooth loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this region of Kentucky now leads the nation in having the great number of missing teeth.

For those who don’t know,  Mountain Dew and many other “energy drinks” have high sugar, high caffeine, and high acid contents ( with pH levels below 4) that literally “eat your teeth”. Mountain Dew is very popular because of it’s caffeine content is 50% higher than Coke or Pepsi. It supposely helps with depression, etc. for many kids.

  • For many children in Appalachia, many get Pepsi in their baby bottles
  • Some have as many as 12 cavities by the time they are 2 years old
  • Many grow unable to attempt cleaning their teeth because they are so tender and painful

Thankfully, Edwin Smith, DDS has come to the rescue in his roving dental office, a converted 18 wheeler, to help these children break the habit and make their mouths healthy and smiles white once again.

Although Pepsi, Co. has denied responsibility in the past, the company recently donated $150,000 to help out Dr. Smith.

That’s very nice. Just a lttle late in the game. Kind of reminds me of a cigarette company donating a gym to a school for exclusive rights to a cigarette machine in the cafeteria.

What really would be great is if Pepsi–and every softdrink maker out there–would prominently display the acid content, sugar levels, and caffeine amounts so that people would realize the dangers of what they are drinking.

Even better, since psychologists have shown that “Showing often leads to doing”

Put a picture of child who has several dark cavities and missing teeth on each can with a warning label!

What are your thoughts or comments?

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Posted in: Dentistry


  1. A very fitting Title “aint it a shame” the only hope against this is the type of education that this article provides. Excellent information that should be shared with everyone we know. I say we pass this link and information on to all of our friends!

    Comment by Dolly Gaines on February 20, 2009 at 8:03 am

  2. Thanks Dolly….appreciate you passing this along.

    Hopefully we will eventually see a push to not only help children save their teeth, but also prevent these problems occuring in their future teeth and generations of their offspring.

    Furthermore, day after day we are finding more chemical and physical wear on teeth that affects the appearance and comfort of young adult teeth as well.Not sure, if it’s epidemic proportions like obesity. The possibility is very real. A vivid photo might scare some people straight–better that than “surgeon general warning” on cigarettes.

    Comment by Dr.Flax on February 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm

  3. Please don’t think that this problem is just in the poor mountain folk. As a hygienist I have seen very well educated parents allow their children to have a constant diet of chewy fruit roll-up type snacks,gummi bears, Skittles and the like. Not to mention the sodas and electrolyte replacement drinks such as Gatorade. It is devistating to see a young person that is highly successful in their athletic achievements discover they have 10+ cavities!

    Parents, please eliminate these high sugar, high acid foods/drinks from your kid’s everyday diets. FYI, be on the look out for high fructose corn syrup listed on the ingredients…it’s worse than real suger! Just a note for calculating sugar content- 4 grams sugar equals 1 teaspoon!

    Comment by Edi Sprouse on March 4, 2009 at 5:57 am

  4. @Edi Sprouse

    The food industry has continually made America more obese and less healthy–ever since TV dinners (remember those?) and fast food. Just read that HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) actally makes you continue to feel hungry.
    One of the best ‘health plans” we can give America is to tell the truth about these disease provoking products.
    Our children and adults are at high risk. We hope we that all will spread the word.

    Thanks for your thoughts

    Comment by Hugh Flax on March 6, 2009 at 2:08 am

  5. Sugar is pervasive in our society, not only in obvious forms such as cookies, cakes, and candy, but in just about any other food you can think of. From packaged meats to soups, cereals, flavored yogurt, catsup, most breads, jams, fruit juices, many salad dressings,etc. We need to also be aware of processed carbohydrates such as white rice and refined white-flour products like pasta which are metabolized just like sugar.

    Many of us do not realize that refined sugars and processed foods drive our energy and mood levels upward, at least temporarily. When the tension-relieving effects of that food wear off, that is when cravings for that food rise again. This becomes a kind of food dependency or addiction. Because we are creatures of habit, this pattern of using food to release ourselves from stress becomes a way of life. Our food dependencies become the ways we reward ourselves or soothe our pains.

    Comment by Susan Karlip on March 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm

  6. @Susan Karlip

    Thank you for sharing your expertise on this.
    It really amazes me how widespread all these ingredients have “infected” our eating choices in feeding children and adults. The ways manufacturers mask the glucose levels is insidious.
    Just commiting to eating less processed foods recently has helped me curb the cravings, increase my energy, and even lose some weight. That is a better reward.

    Comment by Dr.Flax on March 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm

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