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Oct 27, 2010 11:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Dentists Offer Cash To Kids For Halloween Candy As Part Of A Larger Effort

Oct 27, 2010 11:57 AM

Among the ghosts, ghouls and goblins that roam the streets during Halloween each year lurks another frightening specter: sugar-loving bacteria that hasten tooth decay.

Few trick-or-treaters are likely to pay much mind to this insidious fright on Sunday evening, but in an effort to help reduce sugar consumption among children this holiday weekend, at least three East End dentists have teamed up with Operation Gratitude, a non-profit, volunteer-based corporation, to exchange sweets for dollars and soft-bristled toothbrushes.

Hampton Dental Group, P.C., in Southampton Village, Beach Dental in Speonk, and Greg Felton D.D.S. in Manorville have all said they plan to participate in a Halloween candy buyback program in the days following All Hallow’s Eve for the first time this year.

At each of their offices, unopened candy will be weighed. Trick-or-treaters will then receive $1 for each pound of candy they turn in, along with a free toothbrush. The loot will then be packaged and shipped to American troops overseas—who will also receive complimentary toothbrushes.

The Southampton office at 325 Meeting House Lane will be open for candy collection from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, November 1. The Speonk office at 195 Montauk Highway will offer cash for candy on Monday, November 1 until 4 p.m., Tuesday, November 2, until 8 p.m. and Wednesday, November 3, until 7 p.m. And the Manorville office at 1 Windcrest Drive will swap sugary treats for money and toothbrushes between 1 and 7 p.m. on Monday, November 1, and between 4 and 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 4.

“The bacteria that are in everyone’s mouth also like the sugar,” Gary Manowitz, D.M.D., of Hampton Dental Group explained about what happens when one enjoys a sweet treat. “As soon as that sugar rush comes into the mouth, they have a bloom, if you will. They multiply into the millions,” he said, adding that plaque attached to the teeth then becomes acidic, leading to the breakdown of tooth enamel. Eventually, acids can penetrate deeper into the teeth and can cause enough damage to require a root canal.

Children’s teeth also have thinner enamel than do adult teeth, so the potential for decay is even quicker than in adults, he explained. In addition, a surge in candy consumption contributes to obesity and other health concerns. Slow-melting, sticky candies have the potential to do the most harm, the dentists pointed out.

None of the three local dentists participating in the buyback said they would outright ban eating candy among youth, but see the buyback as a way to encourage less consumption of junk food in a world in which rates of sugar gobbling is soaring. They also noted that a large portion of the candy stash often goes uneaten after the holiday anyway, and the buyback is a constructive use for it.

Alexis Gersten, D.D.S., of Beach Dental—who said her office will have a contest whereby the child who most closely guesses the total weight of the turned-in treats will win an iPod Nano—explained that as a mother of two young sons, she has noticed that “the candy kids get is over the top.” At the same time, she noted, “The kids around here are extremely generous, and this is for a really good cause.” She decided to participate this year after stumbling across word of the buyback on the internet.

Dr. Gersten, who said she receives a lot of trick-or-treaters at her East Quogue home, said she often distributes Hershey’s Kisses on October 31 because they don’t stick to the teeth or break orthodontic devices. “If you’re going to eat candy, chocolate’s the best thing,” she said.

Dr. Manowitz, who said he learned of the initiative in a dentistry journal, said The Milk Pail in Water Mill would also be delivering 100 apples to his office to be exchanged for braces-breaking bonbons and sugar-coated gummies.

“We thought it would be fun,” reasoned Dr. Felton, who practices out of his home office in Manorville and said he learned of the idea from one of his receptionists who said a previous dental practice she had worked at participated in the buyback once. Children who drop off candy at his office will receive money—out of his own pocket—and a “prize from our treasure chest.”

Dr. Felton said he had no idea how much candy his office might get, but laughed, “Hopefully, we won’t have 2,000 pounds of candy.”

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Oh, come on. Let them eat some candy for Halloween and keep them away from it the rest of the year.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Oct 27, 10 7:10 PM
didn't expect you to appreciate it. the kids earn non taxable dollars and it benefits the troops.
By mackt (73), montauk on Oct 27, 10 7:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Can you only speak in talking points? Mackteabagger
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Oct 27, 10 9:22 PM
2 members liked this comment
Cute idea, but my kids would rather a lollipop than a Jackson. Supporting the troops is always a good idea though.
By double standard (1506), quogue on Oct 27, 10 9:33 PM
As someone who still has no fillings in his thirties, let them enjoy it once in a while.

For the rest of the year, chew ONE piece of gum a day, until it turns to paste, and you have to spit it out...
By Mr. Z (11099), North Sea on Oct 27, 10 10:12 PM
I think this is a great idea! The kids don't have to turn in all their candy and it teaches them the "pay it forward" lesson. Nice job docs!
By MartyMcDougal (24), Providence on Oct 28, 10 8:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Vote for Time Bishop on Tuesday and support congresspeople who support our troops. In the meantime, enjoy a sweet and happy halloween
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Oct 28, 10 8:39 AM
i think it's a great idea! Kids today get SO much candy for halloween. It's really not necessary to keep it all. This teaches them to be generous and thoughtful.
By montaukgirl (2), east hampton on Oct 28, 10 9:10 AM
Beautiful Boys! Great idea!
I hope the parents will get involved and explain the significance.
By hmptnlocal (47), Hampton Bays on Oct 28, 10 1:56 PM
Cash for candy? get real, let the kids enjoy their halloween.
By joegti10 (8), East Moriches on Oct 29, 10 9:38 AM
Great idea!
By Court (10), Courtney Ratcliffe, 27east.com on Oct 30, 10 8:51 AM