Dentists Love Halloween Too

Oct 14, 2011, 10:55 ET from Pennsylvania Dental Association

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Halloween just around the corner, trick-or-treaters are getting ready to rake in the candy. While brushing twice a day and visiting the dentist every six months are preventive measures, children's teeth also benefit by limiting the candy they consume. This Halloween the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) encourages children to donate some of their candy to the Halloween Candy Buyback Program.

Participating dentists "buy" unopened Halloween candy from neighborhood kids at a scheduled event. They purchase candy with cash, coupons, toothbrushes and other goody bags. Once the candy is collected it is shipped to a non-profit organization called Operation Gratitude, based in California. From there, volunteers fill care packages, address each with an individual soldier's name on it and send them to our troops overseas.

Dr. Drew Carlin, a pediatric dentist from Erie, tells parents no one ever got a cavity from binging on candy for a couple of days.

"The real issue seems to be how to get rid of that candy stockpile that can last for weeks after Halloween night, and influence dietary habits. The Halloween Candy Buyback Program is meant to motivate children to exchange their excess candy for a modest monetary reward and gift bag filled with healthy snacking alternatives and family activities," Dr. Carlin said.

Currently, global sugar consumption for kids is at 50 million tons per year. PDA encourages parents to be mindful of the amount of candy their children consume and be aware of the damage too much candy can do to young teeth.

Dr. John Kelly, a pediatric dentist from State College, says his office's candy buyback started as an internal program marketed to just their patients as a simple way to reduce their overall sugar consumption.

"We will hold the candy buyback on Nov. 1 from 3:30-6 p.m. in our office. We will pay children $1 per pound of candy along with a goody bag. They will also be entered in a contest to win a $50 Walmart gift card or an iPod Touch. We also ask the children to sign cards or draw pictures to include in the care packages for the troops," Dr. Kelly said.

Last year, 199 children visited Dr. Kelly's office to donate their candy. A little over 700 pounds was collected to send to the troops.

"For a somewhat rural area we were very pleased with the enthusiastic response; over a third of a ton of candy is a lot," Dr. Kelly said. "Parents seemed very pleased to get the candy out of the house, not only for their kids, but for themselves!"

Dr. Carlin said the benefit to children and their parents is clear. The program provides an outlet to get rid of excess candy in an enjoyable way while benefiting others in the process. 

The Halloween Candy Buyback Program teaches children about service and giving back. Our men and women in uniform especially enjoy receiving packages from home during the holidays. Last year, 122,000 pounds of candy was collected and sent to the troops. Halloween candy is a visible reminder of home, lifts morale and brings a smile to their face knowing that children are thoughtful enough to donate candy to show their support.  

Toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste are also donated to include in the care packages. Operation Gratitude welcomes additional items such as commercially-sealed lip balm, energy or protein bars, small packages of beef jerky, DVDs and CDs, hand-knit scarves and hats, dark colored socks and small stuffed animals.

To locate participating offices in your area, visit For more information on Operation Gratitude, visit

About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA's mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. For more information on PDA, visit our website at

SOURCE Pennsylvania Dental Association