HELENA — Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among children and experts say it's almost 100 percent preventable.
According to a 2020 report on the state of Montana’s oral health, 62 percent of Montana kids experienced tooth decay by third grade, with around one in seven having untreated tooth decay.
One of the biggest challenges is sugary treats and that challenge increases around holidays like Christmas and Halloween.
But, one thing kids may like more than candy is money, and if that’s the case for your little ones, Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics has a sweet deal going on.
Dr. Alexa Brancato with Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, “We pay you guys a dollar a pound to turn in your candy. We take it from you to get it out of your home, so that we are make sure you are keeping your teeth nice and healthy and not creating sugar bugs in your teeth.”
Cavities, or caries, are very common in kids. According to Bright Smiles Montana, Early Childhood Caries is “the most common chronic childhood disease - five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.”
“We do recommend brushing twice a day with toothpaste with fluoride in it and even introducing flossing to younger kiddos. Decreasing the amount of juice kids drink and obviously decreasing the amount of sugar they get in their food,” said Dr. Brancato.
After the kids get their fill of Halloween candy, the office welcomes their leftovers.
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics has been doing this program for the past 17 years and in total they estimate that they have received roughly 85,000 pounds of candy.
So far this year, Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics has received 300 pounds of candy, and they are accepting buybacks from everyone, not just their clients.
Once they wrap up with buyback, the candy will be donated to The American Red Cross, so they can use it during blood donations.
The candy buyback program runs through the 15th.