Program takes unused candy to ‘sweeten’ the lives of our soldiers

Published 11:07 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Most children don’t associate trick-or-treating with going to the dentist or the orthodontist, but this year trick-or-treaters in the Selma-Dallas County area may want to.

Wood Orthodontics is participating in a sweet program that will make everyone smile. It’s a Halloween candy buyback program where children can receive cash and other prizes in exchange for their unused, unbitten, individually wrapped, leftover Halloween candy.

The collected candy is shipped through Operation Gratitude to U.S. service men and women in Iraq.

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“I think the thing that makes us the most excited about [participating in this program], is that everybody wins,” Dr. Brett Wood, of Wood Orthodontics, said. “We win because we don’t have the breakages of appliances, the kids don’t have the cavities and the troops win because they get a little pick-me-up. I just think it’s a good program all the way around.”

This is the first year that anyone in Selma is participating in the Halloween candy buyback program. Wood decided to bring the program to Selma after seeing other orthodontist friends in other areas participate in the program.

“I saw they were doing it, and I don’t think anyone has ever done it in Selma, so I looked it up and started reading about it,” Wood said.

As Wood researched the Halloween candy buyback program he realized,

“It would be a good program for us to do in Selma, because you take the candy out of kids hands, so (it reduces the risk of) them getting cavities and things like that, and then especially with our patients — we don’t want them eating a whole lot of candy with braces on because you can get cavities, you can get broken appliances, things like that,” he said. “So getting the candy out of their hands is a plus for us. The plus for the kids is they get a dollar for every pound that they turn in, up to five pounds.”

Children who bring in their unused candy to Wood Orthodontics from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 1, the day after Halloween, will not only be paid $1 for every pound of candy they donate, but they will receive a prize pack that includes a coupon for a free kid’s meal at Zaxby’s along with a toothbrush, toothpaste and other things to take care of their teeth.

They will also be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to dinner at El Rancheros and four movie passes to Selma’s Walton Theater.

Wood said, “During Halloween you see a little bit more damage because of [kids] eating stuff they shouldn’t,” which is a big reason why he hopes to take the unused candy off the children’s hands.

“When they eat hard candy and things like that — candy bars with nuts in them, it’s all that stuff. One, you do get the cavities and you get what’s called demineralization of the tooth,” Wood explained. “That’s where when kid’s don’t brush their teeth, the bacteria kind of sits around those little brackets and the food that’s left in there, produces an acid and that acid pulls minerals out of the tooth.”

The demineralization of the tooth leaves white spots on teeth. Wood Orthodontics is not only trying to prevent white spots caused by demineralization but breakages in appliances, he said.

“When they come in and have a bracket broken, or something like that, we’ve got to take that and put it back on and back track a little bit in treatment,” Wood said. “So it makes the treatment times go longer. Kids get unhappy because they’ve got their braces on longer, parents get unhappy because they want the braces off.”

The more breakages that can be reduced, the better, Wood said.

“Treatment just goes a lot better.”

And while cavities and breakages are a concern, it doesn’t mean children can’t enjoy the fun of trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Wood recommends children stay away from hard candy and soft sticky candies.

“The candies that are soft are usually sticky, and those are the ones that are going to stick in between their teeth and cause cavities, but as far as breakages — soft is OK,” Wood said. “Anything with sugar is not going to be good for the patients, but hard candy is really what’s going to hurt us as an orthodontist, because it’s just going to break stuff.”

Wood suggests children hold onto their sugar free gum. He said sugar free gum has been shown to reduce cavities, because it stimulates saliva flow in the mouth, which self cleans the teeth.

The Halloween candy buyback program is open to everyone in the Selma-Dallas County area, and Wood said you don’t have to be a patient in order to donate.

The candy they are shipping will be shipped along with toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouth rinse and other hygiene products, so the troops overseas aren’t stuck with a mouth full of candy-induced cavities.

“We’re shipping it to responsible adults who will clean their teeth. People who probably don’t have braces on, and troops who could use a pick-me-up,” Wood said.

As this is the first year Selma and Wood Orthodontics are participating in the program, Wood said he is unsure of how much candy they will receive.

“I would hope we could get maybe 250 pounds,” he said. “ That would be a good goal for our first year doing it.”

To participate in the Halloween candy buyback program that donates candy and oral hygiene products to troops overseas, drop off the unused candy on Nov. 1 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Wood Orthodontics, located at 429 Church St. For more information call 874-6627 or send an email to