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RISMEDIA, November 4, 2010—(MCT)—You might think that dentists embrace Halloween. That our annual sweet-a-thon conjures pleasant visions of drills whirring and accounts receivables swelling. But that is not the case, as dentists across the country are offering this week to buy back the candy your little princesses and Jedis collected Sunday night. The Halloween Candy Buy Back Program, started four years ago by a Wisconsin dentist, pays a dollar a pound for your sweets, which are shipped overseas as part of care packages to U.S. servicemen and women.

Last year, the buyback program collected 122,000 pounds of candy.

“It’s just not reasonable for kids to have all that candy they get,” says Charlotte dentist Chris Bowman, who began participating in the buyback program last year.

Bowman, however, is actually fine with Halloween. He does not hand out the dreaded apple to trick-or-treaters, and he has no sinister plans to ruin kids’ hard-earned sugar rushes. “Our advice is to enjoy the candy, but to do the right things afterward,” he says.

That means brush and floss, of course, and he also recommends against parents spreading candy consumption throughout the day. “That’s the equivalent of getting in a boxing ring and getting jabbed for 10 rounds,” he says.

The best solution, he says, is to give candy away. The Halloween Candy Buy Back Program works with California-based Operation Gratitude to put donated sweets in packages shipped to service members overseas, including the Middle East and Afghanistan. The candy helps keep soldiers’ mouths moist in the arid desert air, Bowman says, and it gives them something to foster goodwill with children in remote villages.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Chris Kammer, the Middleton, Wis., dentist who started the buyback program four years ago. Kammer says that about 2,000 dentists nationwide are registered with the program, including a dozen in the Charlotte area. He’s seen other dentists running individual buyback programs for about a decade.

Kammer, like Bowman, says one gluttonous Halloween night isn’t going to ruin your child’s teeth. “It’s a lifestyle issue,” he says.

(c) 2010, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.