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Massachusetts Dentists Take the Fright Out of Halloween's Effects on Teeth

Dentists Participate in Candy Give-Backs and Donate to a Good Cause

SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass.—Oct. 28, 2019—With Halloween just a few days away, Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) member dentists across the Commonwealth are making plans to host “Halloween Candy Give-Backs,” or “Buy-Backs,” at their local dental offices. To encourage children to unload excess sweets and curb damage to their teeth, dentists are collecting candy for nonprofit organizations such as Operation Gratitude, which ships care packages to U.S. troops serving overseas and distributes candy to local first responders and veterans organizations. 

“While consuming several pieces of candy on Halloween may not immediately be harmful to your teeth, excessive and continuous candy consumption can impact oral health,” said MDS President Dr. Janis Moriarty. “Too much exposure to sugary candies and snacks can eventually lead to tooth decay, especially in young children.”

Teeth are more susceptible to decay during the first few years after eruption in the mouth. Since children are getting teeth until around age 13, their teeth are more vulnerable to decay. 

“The frequency of sugar consumption has a lot to do with how cavity-causing decay forms in the mouth,” Dr. Moriarty added. “Parents should make sure that children brush and floss their teeth after eating candy, and don’t let them go to sleep without brushing the sugary residue from their teeth.”

The best advice for parents is to not let Halloween treats hang around the house for too long. Parents may want to consider allowing their kids to have a few pieces of candy each night for one week, and then donating the rest, Dr. Moriarty suggested. 

Baarsvik Souza Orthodontics in North Dartmouth is just one dental office hosting a Halloween Candy Give-Back event. For the seventh year in a row, the office is collecting candy for Operation Gratitude.

“This is a program that is near and dear to our hearts, as many of our staff have family members who have served in the military and know how it feels to get care packages from the States,” said Dr. Jauna Souza. “Not only do we collect unopened Halloween candy for the troops to give out to children in the villages that they patrol, but we also send toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss.”

In 2017, Baarsvik Souza Orthodontics collected more than 250 pounds of candy. Last year, they doubled that amount to more than 500 pounds.

“Not only do our patients give back candy to support this program, but also many of our community members stopped in to drop off candy,” Dr. Souza said.

"Kids giving candy get something back, too,” Dr. Souza added. The orthodontists will give children $1 for each pound of candy, and patients can get points toward the office’s rewards program. The office also has crafting materials for those who want to make a card or write a note to the troops. Everyone who makes a card will be entered in a raffle to win a movie night out gift basket.

This year, Baarsvik Souza Orthodontics will collect unopened Halloween candy from November 1 to November 6, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. – noon.

Hanover Pediatric Dentistry also will be collecting candy for Operation Gratitude as part of their second annual Halloween Candy Buyback. They are reimbursing $1 for every pound of unopened Halloween candy donated (up to $10/person). 

“This is a win-win for kids, parents, and dentists because it teaches children to eat candy in moderation—for one night only—which is better for their teeth, and then donate it to benefit our troops, veterans, and first responders,” said Dr. Tara Groff. 

The event holds special meaning for Dr. Groff, the owner of Hanover Pediatric Dentistry, since she and her husband are both Air Force veterans.

“I love being able to give back to my fellow service members and veterans because I know how much they love the donations and support from local communities,” she said. “I also love being able to help my child patients and their families support a cause I am passionate about!”

The Halloween Candy Buyback will take place through November 7. Check the Hanover Pediatric Dentistry Facebook event page for specific dates and hours.

Another dental office collecting candy for Operation Gratitude is Dental Associates of Marlborough. Each child bringing in a donation receives $1 per pound of candy donated, up to $5. 

“Halloween is a great time of year for kids,” said Dr. Sanjiv Nehra. “They get to dress up and collect candy—tons of it! However, days after Halloween, you don’t want that candy sitting around your house.”

Dr. Nehra continued, “The Candy Buy-Back program gives kids the chance to eat some of their candy, save some, and then voluntarily give away the excess and share with our troops. It is a great way to use all that Halloween candy to remind our troops that they’re not forgotten.”

“The feedback from our patients has been overwhelmingly positive,” he added. “We have been doing this for the past five years, and our patients, and their kids alike, know now to bring in their surplus to send to the troops. We love the letters of support they bring in with their donations, too!”

Dental Associates of Marlborough will collect candy from November 1 through November 8 during normal business hours. The office also will have a table set up with paper and writing supplies so that participants can write letters of support and thanks to the troops.

About the Massachusetts Dental Society


The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS), a professional association representing 5,000+ member dentists and a statewide constituent of the American Dental Association, is dedicated to the professional development of its member dentists through initiatives in education, advocacy, the promotion of the highest professional standards, and championing oral health in the Commonwealth. For more information, visit massdental.org, and follow the MDS on Twitter @MassDental.