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Trading candy for cash Halloween treats worth $1 a pound to fight tooth decay

As costumed trick-or-treaters ring your doorbell later this month, there are lots of hazards surrounding children.
For one orthodontist, it's candy.
Dr. Michael Weinberg of Prairie Orthodontics is working to ensure that children throughout Lake County can dump any candy they do not want Nov. 1 in exchange for a dollar per pound.
"I am coming from a health standpoint. We want to encourage people not to eat so much candy, which includes processed sugar," Weinberg said, who has run the orthodontic practice for 11 years. "Halloween is just the time where there is just an abundance of candy."
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend more than $2 billion on Halloweencandy.
"The rate of tooth decay in children has increased dramatically in the last few years," Weinberg said.
According to Weinberg, the common problem for orthodontic professionals is children tend to prefer hard and sticky candy that can lead to breaking the brackets of their braces.
"Mysteriously, patients never can figure out why they have something loose in their mouth and it just happens to be in November," Weinberg said. "We see a spike in misplaced brackets in November."
In addition to the clinic's candy buy-back program, they will also match the proceeds and make a donation to the LaCASA Zacharias Center in Gurnee, a counseling center for the sexually abused.
Weinberg usually donates the candy he collects to military families and shelters around Lake County.
The clinic is expanding the program this year to include all county residents, regardless of what town or village the trick-or-treater resides. In previous years, it was exclusive to Gurnee residents.
The 41-year-old orthodontist adopted the idea of the program from a newsletter he found from the state of Washington and has been buying back candy since 2000.
"The money is coming out of my pocket. We think it's goodwill and it's just giving back to the community," said Weinberg. "We lose money every time we have to repair brackets, so we pay money by having people avoid the repair visits, so there is a cost involved."
The promotion for good dental health is in its seventh year, with 2004 yielding $362, the highest total buy-back. The clinic collected 307 pounds of candy last year.
Lake Villa parent Dennis Cozzi took his daughter, Sadie, to the clinic Tuesday to remove her braces.
She participated in the buy-back program last year, trading in about 20 pounds of candy.
"We get so much candy every year that we bring it back here to get rid of some of it. They keep refilling and refilling, so it is about 20 pounds," Dennis Cozzi said. "We pick through a lot of it for a couple of my favorites and then give away the gummy stuff."
According to two sources, candy corn was the most popular Halloween candy in 2004, supplanting Snickers as the former No. 1 selling candy.
The most searched candy on lycos, according to keepingkidshealthy.com was the Tootsie Roll in 2004.
Cozzi said both his 12-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son would be sure to handle their braces properly due to the high cost.
The father said his children enjoy trick-or-treating so much he takes them out to all of the surrounding towns and villages outside Lake Villa to collect more candy if the those other places have a different day or time for trick-or-treating.
"One year we kept (the candy) and it just sat and sat and we could not get rid of it," said Cozzi on why he participates in the buy-back program with his children.

Source: Waukegan News Sun

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