Parents can’t help but think about cavities when they see their children’s plastic pumpkin full of lollipops and caramels this Halloween.

Here are five simple things that orthodontists should tell parents to do to avoid their children’s overconsumption of candy.

• Buy it back offer—parents should pay a nickel apiece for candies that their children are willing to sell to them.

• After the children make a pile of what they don’t want, parents should tell them they’ll give them a dime per candy if they get to make the selection. Parents should look for the chewy, sticky stuff that’s hard to brush off or rinse away.

• Recycle it—wrapped candy has a long shelf life. Parents should save the leftover Halloween candy for goody bags and pinatas for a child’s birthday party in the future.

• Parents should squirrel away a few pieces for the next time they need a last-resort bribe.

• Parents should tell their children that they can pick out a few candies to have each day, and impress upon them the importance of brushing their teeth, especially well in the days after Halloween.

[www.theday.com, October 8, 2006]