Dentist Offers Cash for Candy to Promote Dental Hygiene During Halloween Season

Dr. Robin Lucas' "Candy Buyback” program offers $5 for each batch of candy collected.

Trick-or-treaters who would rather have cash than candy can have their wish as a New Jersey dentist is offering money to kids who hand over the goods to promote dental hygiene.

Dr. Robin Lucas was inspired to start a “Candy Buyback” program after her own children came home several years ago with a flier from a local dentist about a similar incentive, she told

So when her practice, Lucas Dental Associates, expanded into pediatrics two years ago, she decided to offer her own spin on the creative solution to quash the sugar rush that comes at the end of October.

“It was fun, it was great,” she said. “Moms and dads were excited about it.”

Children who hand over their candy get $5 and a toothbrush.

“I couldn’t give just a dollar; a dollar would be insulting,” she said with a laugh. “The kids love it. Some kids just like the idea of $5, and the toothbrush drives it [the importance of dental hygiene] home.”

Though Lucas previously offered the deal to only patients, she has previously given out more than $500 for candy collected. She then donates the treats to the military.

Lucas has now opened her practice to any children in the community-at-large who are interested in the buyback and plans to have twice the cash on hand to cover the anticipated rush.

“We’re hoping given the amount of attention and publicity we got, we’re going to go broke,” she said with a laugh.

Lucas noted that while some older kids are more reticent to give up their hard-earned sweets, younger children have less of an attachment to the tradition.

“Ten-year-olds, 9-year-olds—it’s harder for them to separate with the candy, whereas 3-, 4-, 5-year-olds, parents have more influence over,” she said.

That takeaway drives home the importance of familiarizing children with moderation and having them understand the dangers of sugar, she said.

“We’re all parents at the end of the day, and it’s a struggle,” she said. “My kids, unlike me, they like candy. I actually say ‘sugar is poison’ — trying to indoctrinate that early.”