The ladies of Midlothian Dental Arts will give you a mega-watt smile, but just a word of advice: Don’t mention which of the creative pumpkins decorating their lobby right now is your favorite until after you’re out of the chair.

The dental practice is in the midst of its seventh annual pumpkin contest and, by now, trash-talking is in full swing. Patients and the general public are invited to vote for their favorite pumpkin — six in all, created by staff members — through Oct. 30, and both the winner as well as one lucky voter will receive a $100 gift certificate for various dining establishments around town.

This year’s entries include an assortment of doughnuts, a peacock and its shimmery plume, Oscar the Grouch in his trash can, an overflowing tub of buttery popcorn, a Halloween take on “James and the Giant Peach” and a colorful, fizzy witch’s brew.

Friendly competition? Nope.

“We should call it a war — we’re hardly even friendly about it anymore,” said Dr. Jeryl Abbott, who said the competition took on a life of its own several years ago.

Abbott and her staff spend weeks preparing to showcase their pumpkins in early October. All of the pumpkins are on display in the lobby of the dental office, located at 151 Le Gordon Drive in Midlothian, and hundreds of people typically submit votes, according to staff.

Bribery, sabotage, plain old meanness — participants are using every trick up their sleeve to win.

Office administrator Terri Norman has won four times so far and hopes to hit win No. 5 this year.

“I’m not tooting my own horn,” she said, clearly tooting her own horn. “We thought it would be something fun to do as a team, [but] the competition gets harder and harder.”

She added, “It’s fierce.”

To cast an online vote for one of the Midlothian Dental Arts pumpkins, visit https://www. facebook.com/mdasmiles/.

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