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Do You Really Need To Eat All That Candy? Local Dentists Participate In Halloween Candy Buyback

Dr. Marisabel Olivera and some of the participants in the Halloween Candy sweet swap.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

For the past six years, Dr. Marisabel Olivera has had hundreds of kids bring shopping bags filled with Halloween candy into her office, Journey Kids Dental, in Fort Lauderdale.

She’s one of 23 dentists in South Florida participating in the nationwide Halloween Candy Buyback,  a program she heard about while in dental school.

Dr. Chris Kammer of Madison, Wisconsin started it in 2005 as the dental profession’s solution to the unhealthy candy madness each October. He got the idea after reading online that other dentists were doing something similar.

He clarified that kids won’t get cavities from eating candy on Halloween.

“But they will if they continue to eat the leftover candy for weeks and weeks like they often do,” he said.

Aside from cavities, he’s concerned about child obesity and other health issues that can come from eating such unhealthy treats.

That’s what the program tries to prevent.

Once the candy is purchased from kids at the buyback events, it’s shipped to troops overseas in care packages.

Not only do they enjoy the candy and other gifts that remind them of home, “but they also give the candy to young people in those war torn areas,” Kammer said.

More than 2,000 dentists across the country have signed up for the buyback this year.

Dr. Olivera’s buyback takes place from Nov. 1-8. She is buying each pound of candy for $1 and giving kids a free toothbrush. Anyone can participate - even those who are not patients of her dental office.

This year, she’s doubling her charitable efforts.

“Half of the candy collected will be going to those affected from  Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. So, we’ll be sending candy for the kids, clothes for the kids and food,” Olivera said.

With respect to dental hygiene, Dr. Olivera says there are certain candies that kids should stay away from in general. She suggests they replace them with options that are healthier.

Treats To Avoid

  • Gummies, bubblegum and caramel - because these can stick to crevices between teeth and cause cavities
  • Sour candy - due to their high acidic content that can break up tooth enamel

Better Options

  • Dark chocolate - because it contains antioxidants that prevent bacteria sticking to teeth
  • Sugar free gum - because it contains Xylitol, which also helps protect teeth from bacteria

Ironically, she says she’s noticed that kids come to sell the healthier sweets at her Halloween Candy Buybacks. They prefer to eat the ones that are tastier but less healthy for their teeth.

See all the South Florida dentists participating in the 2017 Halloween Candy Buyback in the map below:

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Yaneli Gonzalez is a Miami native and a senior at Florida International University (graduating December 2017). She is pursuing a B.S. in Communications: Broadcast Journalism and a B.A. in International Relations. Her minor is in Italian language, and she has earned a Certificate in European and Eurasian Studies. When she isn't watching the news, she finds herself flipping back and forth between the Science and History channels each night. Late night comedy shows are the occasional exception.