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A fun trick-or-treating alternative

trick or treat

Trick or treat?! Between extravagant costumes and as much candy as you can stomach, what kid doesn’t love Halloween? However, Halloween is more of a trick than a treat with the excessive consumption of sugary sweets increasing the risk for childhood caries. In an attempt to decrease sugar consumption while maintaining the joy associated with trick-or-treating, a dentist in Wisconsin created a fun alternative.

The Halloween Buy Back Program was founded in 2005 by Dr. Chris Kammer of Middleton, Wisconsin in an attempt to decrease candy consumption among children.  “Ditch the sugary candy and get some healthy alternatives, that’s what we’re saying. Visiting your dentist twice a year and brushing daily are great preventative measures, but doing away with excessive sugary sweets altogether would really give your teeth a healthy boost,” Dr. Kammer told the Dental Tribune.

Kids bring in bags full of sugary sweets to their dentist in exchange for a token redeemable for xylitol based candy and other healthy products. You might be wondering, “what do they do with all of that extra candy?” ( No, they haven’t started a candy shop as a side business!) The collected candy is packaged and sent to the troops stationed overseas. This year, as an added bonus, patients will have the choice to donate the toothbrush in their take home hygiene kit to be included in the package to the armed services. Dr. Kammer has a goal of donating 100,000 toothbrushes.

So why should you get involved? According to The Washington Post, Americans spend an average of $7.4 billion on Halloween each year. That’s a lot of candy! This year the buy back program is teaming up with Xlear Inc., the leading manufacturer of xylitol products and Tess Oral Health. With big companies like these on board, the Halloween Buy Back Program is sure to make a difference.

To learn more about the program and how to volunteer visit

~Chris Holladay, Arizona ’18

Chris Holladay

Chris is in his third year at The Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He served as co-chair of his chapter's Predental Committee. He has a beautiful wife and two perfect children that fill his life with nonstop adventure!

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