ATLANTA -- Kool Smiles, a leading provider of quality dental care in underserved communities, is hosting for the fifth year 'Operation Troop Treats,' a national community outreach and education program designed to promote good dental hygiene during the Halloween season and give kids the opportunity to send overseas troops a sweet reminder of home. Operation Troop Treats encourages children to trade their Halloween candy in exchange for a toy at 124 Kool Smiles offices nationwide until Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. The candy will be sent in care packages to U.S. troops serving abroad via Operation Gratitude.
Since 2012, Kool Smiles has collected more than eight tons of donated candy and sent 1,000 care packages to American servicemen and women through Operation Troop Treats. To date, it is the largest candy exchange program by a U.S. dental provider.
"Operation Troop Treats is our way of encouraging children and parents to maintain healthy dental habits this Halloween, while also bringing a little bit of joy to U.S. service members deployed overseas who are not able to celebrate with family here at home," said Kool Smiles Chief Dental Officer Dr. Dale Mayfield. "Good dental health is especially important around Halloween when there's plenty of sugar-filled sweets floating about. We want to make Trick-or-Treating fun – just without the cavities!"
According to new guidelines from the American Heart Association, experts recommend children consume less than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, which is equivalent to 100 calories or 25 grams.
Brushing twice daily and getting regular dental checkups is vital for people of all ages. However, Halloween is an especially important time for parents to pay close attention to their children's dental health. Good dental care can prevent complex and expensive procedures, as well as contribute to a child's overall health and well being. Poor oral health, on the other hand, can contribute to significant health issues and costs later in life.
In addition to the candy exchange program, Kool Smiles is donating 200 dental care kits for troops to Operation Gratitude, as well as the funds to cover the assembly and shipment of 200 care packages. Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3), volunteer-based organization that annually produces more than 200,000 care packages for U.S. Service Members deployed in harm's way, their children left behind, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, Veterans and First Responders. Since 2007, Operation Gratitude has encouraged dentists to collect Halloween candy from their patients for donation to the troops through their Halloween Candy Buy-Back initiative. Kool Smiles has organized the largest Candy Buy-Back effort ever by a dental organization participating on a national level.
"We're thrilled that Kool Smiles is continuing its Operation Troop Treats program for the fifth year," said Operation Gratitude founder Carolyn Blashek. "It's wonderful to see so many young children giving up their candy to help put smiles on the faces of our servicemen and women deployed overseas. Kool Smiles' additional donations of dental care kits and funds to Operation Gratitude are deeply appreciated and go a long way in boosting troop morale."
All Kool Smiles offices throughout the country are participating in Operation Troop Treats during business hours until Saturday, November 5, 2016. The program is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are Kool Smiles patients. Every child that takes part will receive one toy for every 25 pieces of unopened candy in its original intended packaging. There is a limit of three toys per child, and toys are distributed on a first come, first served basis.
For more information on the program, including the nearest Kool Smiles location, please visit http://www.mykoolsmiles.com/trooptreats.