PLATTSBURGH Working to save the smiles of their young patients will mean bringing smiles to countless other local children and members of the military serving overseas. Champlain Smiles offered its first-ever Halloween Candy Buy Back program last week, asking children to turn in their Halloween candy to the dental office to help Ronald McDonald House in Burlington, Vt., and support the Treats for Troops program. The idea of a Halloween candy buy back program was thought of a few years ago by Dr. Chris Krammer in Middleton, Wis., as a way to promote dental care during Halloween. Today, more than 80 dental offices across the U.S. and Canada host similar programs. In communicating with other dental offices, we know that the program is successful if the community knows about it, said Champlain Smiles office manager Jeffrey Graves, whose wife, Dr. Athena Graves, D.D.S., owns the State Route 3 practice. The program exists under different names at different offices around the country. No matter what it's called, it's a great program benefiting kids oral health. According to information provided by Mr. Graves, global sugar consumption for children increases annually by approximately two percent, currently at 50 million tons per year, which means parents need to be sure their kids teeth are being cared for more than ever, he said. Aside from causing tooth decay, sugary candies can lead to poor nutrition and weight gain, and, in some cases, the wrong types of candy can also lead to broken teeth and damaged braces, Mr. Graves said. While the consumption of candy is prominent on Halloween and the days to follow, it is by no means the only time to worry about children having too many sweets, Mr. Graves said. When not properly supervised children can consume too much candy anytime of the year, said Mr. Graves. It's not that we don't want children to enjoy candy; quite the opposite, we want kids to be kids and have candy. However, it is important that they do it in moderation and that they practice good oral hygiene. Regardless of the amount of candy consumed, he added, it is imperative children brush and floss every day and see a dentist at least twice a year. As an alternative to handing out candy on Halloween night, Mr. Graves suggests gift certificates, stickers, pencils and small toys for those not wishing to dish out sweets. During this year's trial run of the buy back program, children and adults turning in candy were entitled to a free toothbrush and $1 per pound donated, though many chose to give their dollar towards the office's Ronald McDonald House donation. With that, a total of $180 will be donated to the Burlington house and the more than 120 pounds of candy collected will be shipped overseas. Mr. Graves commended UPS for providing free shipping of the candy to the Treats for Our Troops distribution center outside Chicago, Ill. This program was a success because of the generous and caring nature of our neighbors in the Plattsburgh area, said Mr. Graves. The response we received really makes us want to pursue other charitable causes in this area. In addition to the Halloween Candy Buy Back, other charitable causes Champlain Smiles has contributed to include donating dental supplies to the Peru Community Churchs mission in Mandeville, Jamaica. For more information about the Halloween Candy Buy Back or other Champlain Smiles programs, contact their office at 324-2273, or visit their Web site at www.champlainsmiles.com .