Published 12:00 am Friday, October 23, 2009



LUTCHER – One would think a person who examines and operates on teeth and gums all day would despise a holiday centered on the mass collection of assorted candy. But that’s just not the case for Dr. Greg Phillips.

“I do not hate Halloween. In fact, I used to get bags of candy and hide them from my parents,” Phillips said with a huge grin. “I just know now that it is very important to brush and clean your teeth after eating it.”

Phillips tries to explain to his younger patients that it is always OK to enjoy a little candy now and then, just as long as it is done in moderation.

“It’s about being responsible with what you eat,” said Phillips. “Too much candy is not just harmful to teeth. It can also contribute to the high level of childhood obesity.”

In an effort to push his moderation drive further, Phillips’ office is participating in a program that asks children to give up their cache of Halloween candy so it can go to a good cause.

The program, known as Operation Gratitude, takes Halloween candy collected by trick-or-treaters and sends it off to American soldiers in Iraq as part of care packages. Phillips said he saw the program as a good way to promote good oral hygiene while also helping boost the morale of troops overseas.

“It’s fun for us,” said Phillips. “Our team has been having fun promoting it, and many of the kids I see have been looking forward to it.”

As an added incentive for participation, Phillips’ office is offering a dollar for every pound of candy donated to the program. The kids also receive an electric toothbrush along with a pamphlet detailing good oral hygiene. Along with the candy, Phillips said all of the donors will sign a huge card that will be sent overseas to the soldiers.

“We’re not asking for all of the candy, we just want to moderate how much they eat,” Phillips said. “Their reward for this moderation is not just the money, but also the knowledge that they know their candy is going to a good cause.”

Phillips, 55, has been a practicing dentist for 30 years and has operated in Lutcher for the last 28 years.

He explained he followed his father, a long-time dentist, into the profession.

“It’s a lifelong profession,” said Phillips. “I always enjoy the patient contact and I never grow tired of what I do.”

Phillips’ office will be accepting candy donations during office hours the week of Nov. 2-6.