School receives Rethink Your Drink kit from Delta Dental of North Carolina

The ECU School of Dental Medicine received a Rethink Your Drink toolkit from Delta Dental of North Carolina on September 16 at the school’s community service learning center in Lillington, N.C.

Delta Dental CEO Curt Ladig presented the toolkit to Dr. Michael Scholtz, the dental school’s assistant dean for extramural clinical practices, after touring the Lillington center where faculty, students, residents, and staff treat patients five days a week.

The Rethink Your Drink concept has been used widely by health educators across the country to help curb obesity and improve oral health. Delta Dental, a nation-wide dental insurance company, promotes the campaign in several states, including North Carolina.

“Rethink Your Drink aligns with the oral health instruction delivered in North Carolina communities by our faculty and students. It’s a challenge to get people thinking about the systemic harm caused by too much sugar in the diet,” said Scholtz. “Visuals like this can make an impression on people.”

The toolkit demonstrates the amount of sugar and calories in seven popular drinks and water. For instance, a 20 oz. bottle of citrus soda contains 19 teaspoons of sugar; a 12 oz. can of cola has 10 teaspoons of sugar; and an 8.3 oz. can of energy drink has 7 teaspoons of sugar. The toolkit urges people to replace sweetened drinks with water.

The American Dental Association says that drinks high in sugar such as soda, lemonade, juice and sweetened coffee or tea are particularly harmful because sipping them causes a constant sugar bath over teeth, which promotes tooth decay.

“Here in Harnett County seventeen percent of children entering kindergarten have had oral health problems, mainly tooth decay, and as a result are not able to focus on their studies or take in proper nutrition,” said Ladig. “Anything we can do to improve that, especially in our underserved counties, is what we need to be doing.”

The dental school has eight community service learning centers in rural areas across the state. The centers serve the oral health needs of adults and children, while providing dental students and residents with hands-on experience. Faculty dentists at the centers are in-network providers for Delta Dental members.

Ladig said, “I congratulate the School of Dental Medicine for making a difference. I learned more today about how the school is bringing students into communities where we all live and work.”

Scholtz said, “We thank Delta Dental of North Carolina for their partnership in serving the oral health needs of North Carolinians. We especially thank them today for the toolkit. We expect it to be a powerful visual aid for community outreach.”

The Rethink Your Drink Toolkit urges people to replace high sugar/calorie drinks with water.

The Rethink Your Drink Toolkit urges people to replace high sugar/calorie drinks with water.