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Real scare comes from sugar
Beware of candy craziness
Dentists and Candy 1 es
Katlyn Pratt waits for Carlos Garza to work on her teeth Tuesday afternoon at Children's Dentistry in Cumming. Garza warns parents about their children’s sugar consumption. - photo by Emily Saunders

• The office of Seth Gibree is at 1595 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 207, Cumming. Contact: (770) 888-8282. Candy will be collected from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday and between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday.

• Cumming Dental Care PC is at 416 Pirkle Ferry Road, Suite 300G, Cumming. Contact: (770) 889-1990.

• Children’s Dentistry is at 407 East Maple St., Suite 109, Cumming. Contact: (678) 445-5444.

Goblins, witches and monsters will be wandering through neighborhoods Saturday. But for some children, the scariest part of Halloween could be a trip to the dentist.

Dentist Carlos Garza of Children’s Dentistry said sooner or later, parents “will eventually see the effects of all the candy they’ll be eating for the next month.”

“Kids will be kids, so they’re going to eat candy any time they can,” he said. “I tell them after they’re done with eating candy to brush their teeth ... as long as you get the sugar off the teeth afterwards, you’re in better shape.”

Dentist Clay Skognes with Cumming Dental Care said parents can offer sugar-free candy, but it’s “not the most popular thing in the world.”

While no sugary treat is healthy for teeth, Skognes said chocolates are better than sticky and chewy candies.

“Some kids are more prone to problems than others and some kids eat more candy than others,” he said. “But I think parents need to have some input in that too and make sure kids aren’t eating a bag of candy in one sitting.”

While chewing hard candies can cause instant problems like cracked teeth, broken crowns or popped brackets, Skognes said the sugar in candy can exact the greatest long-term damage, including gingivitis and cavities.

Dentist Seth Gibree said the top candy brands to avoid are Jolly Rancher, Laffy Taffy, Tootsie Roll and Bit-O-Honey.

“There’s probably an uptick in broken teeth just because there’s so much sticky candy,” he said.

But to prevent costly repairs while giving back to the community, Gibree started a Halloween candy buyback event.

The two days following Halloween, Gibree’s private practice will pay $1 per pound of candy dropped off at his office. Each donor will also receive a toothbrush.

All the candy collected will be shipped to Virginia, where it will be sorted and shipped off to military troops serving overseas.

“It’s a way to give back and get some of the candy off the street,” he said. “Since we’re sending it overseas to the troops, they use it as community building or community enhancement and pass it out in towns they go to and, of course, they eat some of it themselves.”

While kids might be reluctant to part with their candy, Gibree said the buyback “gives parents an avenue to say, ‘We’re helping somebody,’ while also limiting some of the sugar that they’re getting in.”

“It’s kind of a win-win for us and for them.”

It’s not just on Halloween that kids need to be careful with their sugar intake, Garza said.

“There’s a lot of soda consumption among kids. I see sodas affecting a lot of the teenagers,” he said. “I’ll start seeing a pattern of where the decay is.”

With younger kids, Garza said fruit juices are the cavity culprit. His advice is to limit high-sugar juice consumption, water it down, or drink juices closer to the time children brush their teeth.

“It’s all about the duration of their consumption, rather than the amount of sugar,” he said.