mountain dew vs coke

Mountain Dew vs. Coke – Which One is Worse

Here’s the quick and hard truth – Mountain Dew is worse for your teeth when compared to Coca Cola. As interpreted by a young scientist, from a simple yet sharp experiment he conducted, there are two main reasons why Mountain Dew is worse thank Coke.

Firstly, Mountain Dew uses citric acid, while Coke uses phosphoric acid to give them their tangy zing. So, since citric acid is an organic acid, it can breakdown organic matter more easily than the inorganic acid used in coke. This is due to the buffering capacity of citric acid (and similar low molecular weight organic acids).

Secondly, even though as a whole Coke has a lower pH of 2.5 as compared to that of Mountain Dew (pH 3.1), which means Coke is six times more acidic owing to the logarithmic nature of this measurement, there’s more to it than just that.
pH measures the strength of the acid in a solution. pH does change due to dilution, but it needs massive dilution to change the pH.

Thus it is more appropriate here to measure the amount of acid actually present in the drink. Which can be done by measuring the Titratable Acidity (TA). TA is the amount of acid molecules present (both protonated and unprotonated) in milligrams or grams per liter of solution available for interaction with the tooth surface.

Thus unlike pH (which just measures the hydrogen ion concentration), the total acid content (measured by TA) is a more accurate predictor of how harmful it is for the hard tissues of your teeth.
Apparently, Mountain Dew has a higher TA as compared to Coke which makes it more harmful for your teeth.

This is why you see a drop of 14% mass (0.94 grams to 0.81 grams) in the teeth kept in Mountain Dew for ~three weeks, while only a 7% drop (from 0.86 grams to 0.80 grams) in the one kept in Coke for ~three weeks.

These acids, citric acid for worse, can attack hydroxyapatite, the principal component of the dental hard tissues (dental enamel, dentin and cementum).

You can check out the young scientist’s science channel on YouTube here – ScienceC – C for Chase. The experiment was featured on another rather popular channel of Tom Scott, that is where I found it.

I’m not being picky, the boy did a great job.

Although I do not deny the results of the experiment, certain details I that came across my mind which could be taken care of in a similar study conducted by someone in the future.

  1. It is important to clean the samples well and use a pair of foreceps while handling the samples. When measuring tiny loss in weights, this could prove to be important.
  2. A citation for the claim that Mountain Dew has higher TA than Coke would have been helpful.
  3. Measuring the loss of weights only on enamel, by using a tiny sample of enamel cut off from the same teeth would have constituted a more convincing result. The presence of other different weights of attached matter on different teeth which interact differently with the beverages could effect the results greatly.

Remember, this is a study carried out with minimal amount budget and by an innocent boy. So it is highly improbable that this study was funded by Coke, even to think that would be nothing less than funny. Although it might not be a perfect experiment, like any experiment for that matter, it certainly is a good indication with a solid interpretation suggesting that Mountain Dew harms your teeth more than Coke.

Neither was I paid by coke to present their drink as a better choice.

Why drink any of them in the first place, if they clearly are both bad for your teeth. But say you are pressured to choose one at gunpoint, why pick Mountain Dew?

And then, the use of Tartrazine in Mountain Dew is a whole new story for some other time.

References:

  1. Reduction of the titratable acidity and the prevention of tooth and other bone degeneration.
  2. Mountain Dew – Wikipedia
  3. Coca-Cola – Wikipedia

2 thoughts on “Mountain Dew vs. Coke – Which One is Worse”

  1. “..So, since citric acid is an organic acid, it can breakdown organic matter more easily than the inorganic acid used in coke…”
    Aren’t mineral acids stronger than organic acid?
    I mean vinegar vs HCl? Could you elaborate how the buffering capacity of either drink affects the enamel?

  2. I think Mountain Dew is worse hands down. Typically I recommend people to stick with tea/coffee and this is anyone rather than soda although pepsi coke is still more enjoyable and safer than Mountain Dew. Not only is the color of the latter offputting (that artificial chemical green) although Mountain Dew has more sugar and a more dangerous type of caffeine in it than cola, teas or coffees

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