October 22, 2014
Contact PDA: (717) 234-5941

Dentists Love Halloween Too

Trick-or-treaters everywhere are gearing up with excitement for a night filled with candy as Halloween quickly approaches. 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 and send them to our troops overseas. 

Each year, the number and size of care packages increases with the growing interest and participation in the program. Thanks to the collection of dental offices nationwide and the work of Operation Gratitude, more than 130 tons of candy has been collected other the years.

“This is our first year to participate, and we are very excited to be participating in the program,” said Dr. Rina K. Singh, a PDA member from Camp Hill. Her office, West Shore Smiles, will be collecting donations on November 3 from 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and November 4 from 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Each child will receive a special surprise envelope for each pound of candy they donate. Envelopes may contain a $5 bill, $2 bill, $1 gold coin, McDonald's coupon, Burger King coupon booklet, Wendy's coupon for a free frosty or an opportunity to choose a toy from the office’s prize box.

Dr. Singh said, “By donating candy, the kids are given a very unique privilege to do something special for our military and help make our military heroes aware of what their service means to us as U.S. citizens.”

Currently, global sugar consumption for kids is at 50 million tons per year. Sugar is the fuel that causes tooth decay, which is the most common chronic disease in children. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable. PDA member dentists encourage 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.

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. Parents who have heard about West Shore Smiles’ program participation this year have expressed what a great idea they think the program is.

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. Halloween candy is a visible reminder of home. They realize that children back home are thoughtful enough to donate candy to show their support.    

To make the care packages extra special, Dr. Singh is providing stationary for staff members and children to write a short note to accompany the donations.

Participants in the program are encouraged to contribute additional items for the care packages such as toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste. As a continuation from previous years, participants are asked to join the challenge and contribute in helping to collect a total of 100,000 toothbrushes to send to the troops. Each participating dental office is asked to contribute at least 100 toothbrushes along with their collected candy.

Operation Gratitude welcomes extra 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 www.halloweencandybuyback.com. For more information on Operation Gratitude, visit www.operationgratitude.com.

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. Learn more about PDA.