Dentists' Buyback Program


Candy is delicious and fun, but everyone knows it’s not good for the body — especially the teeth. But what else are homeowners supposed to hand out on Halloween? Not to worry — the Connecticut State Dental Association has shared some healthy alternatives to all that sweet stuff.

“Strictly by the numbers, Halloween is a dentist’s worst nightmare,” said Dr. Gary Linker, Connecticut State Dental Association President, in a news release. “A single serving of a full-size candy bar has over 20 grams of sugar and more than 200 calories. Halloween can still be fun without being hazardous for teeth. Instead of giving trick-or-treaters candy, people could hand out spooky treats.”

Some non-edible spooky treat alternatives include glow sticks, stickers, monster finger puppets, bouncy balls and spider rings.

If your little ghosts and goblins dump their candy on the living room floor tonight, go ahead: Let them at it. They can sort, then trade, and gorge on their favorites.

But if you're like many parents, by tomorrow morning you may want to get rid of some of this candy glut.

One possible solution? Check out the Halloween Candy Buyback program, which was founded by dentist Chris Kammer in Wisconsin. Kammer's office offers $1 a pound to buy back candy collected by the young trick-or-treaters in his practice.

Think of it as cash for candy. And the idea is catching on.

This year, more than 2,500 dentists and orthodontists have signed up to participate. (There's a zip code locator, if you want to find a dentist near you.) By comparison, about 300 dentists participated in 2007, the first year the program expanded nationally.

And where does all this candy end up? It's shipped to U.S. troops overseas, as part of Operation Gratitude care packages.

Kammer says he started the program when he realized that, for many kids, the treat-eating season dragged on for weeks.

No child needs to have a shopping bag full of candy, Kammer argues. "The thought of that makes me shudder."

When he started experimenting with the idea of the candy buyback years ago, his own children were not big fans. "They said, 'Dad, that's a terrible idea,' " he says.

But after the first year, his family realized that he was not the Halloween grinch. The buyback was a hit in his local community: Kids got to eat and keep some of their surplus, but families were happy to drop off their excess and share it with the troops.

"And I decided, wow, this could be the [dentistry profession's] national response to Halloween," Kammer says.

Operation Gratitude has shipped more than a million care packages, including items such as DVDs, games and personal grooming products, to troops overseas. Halloween candy is a nice addition, says the group's founder, Carolyn Blashek.

"It's a great morale boost for the troops; it reminds them of home," Blashek says. "But more importantly, to me, this provides the opportunity for every American child to say thank-you to the military."

And this year, there may be even more candy out there to buy back. U.S. candy makers are expecting sales to be up 1.8 percent over last year, with Americans spending an estimated $2.5 billion on Halloween treats.

To find a dentist near you that participates in the Cash for Candy program, click on this link : http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/

To donate candy to Operatoin Grattitude, click this link: https://www.operationgratitude.com/

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