Blog Archives - SimplyTeeth Essex


How White is White?

If you are an older person who looks into the face of your smiling son or daughter you can’t help but notice the radiant smile which shows off white shiny teeth. You turn your face to your mirror next time you’re in the bathroom and see this rather dull, off white colour which is nowhere near the same shade of white as your children’s teeth. As you age, the outer dental enamel wears away slowly and beneath it there lies dentin, which is not a brilliant white colour, but off white. It slowly starts to show through over time. So you see your teeth going through different shades of whiteness over time.

Food and drink may affect your teeth’s colour

It’s not just the eroding of your teeth’s enamel that causes this shade of colour change but also the types of food and drink you consume. If you smoke, tar and nicotine can stain your teeth. These stains are very difficult to remove by simply brushing and flossing. Red wine, coffee and curries may also leave behind an annoying stain. Restoring your teeth to their former glory requires a bit more than religiously brushing and flossing twice a day.

Your dentist may offer a teeth whitening solution

Dentists know how important it is for people to keep a charming, glowing smile that encourages happiness and brings about a higher self-esteem and more confidence. So these days they offer what is called in-office teeth whitening. Your dentist will discuss with you how white you want your teeth to be as there are different shades that can be achieved through in-office teeth whitening methods.

It is possible to achieve up to 9 shades whiter, but generally people are happy with improving the appearance of their teeth by 2 to 3 shades. A change of only two or three shades may make a significant difference to almost anyone’s smile. How white you can keep your teeth depends on how willing you are to give up the products that contribute to your stained teeth.

What happens at an In-Office Teeth Whitening appointment?

Your teeth will be polished using pumice first of all. Your dentist will then prepare your mouth for the teeth whitening solution. Because the product used is either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, it’s important your dentist protects the rest of your mouth and gums with a barrier, like rolls of gauze. Once this is done your dentist will paint on the whitening solution and sometimes a curing light is used to activate the product.

The process takes between 30 and 60 minutes. When the desired shade has been reached your dentist will ask you to rinse out your mouth and s/he may apply some fluoride which helps to relieve any sensitivity that sometimes occurs with this sort of treatment. Your dentist may ask you to come back for further treatment if the shade you desire has not been quite reached.

How to keep those newly whitened teeth.

You can help to reduce the frequency of visits to the dentist for teeth whitening if you minimise or avoid the following teeth staining products:

  • wine;
  • coffee;
  • tea;
  • sports drinks;
  • hard sweets;
  • curried food;
  • staining berries;
  • tomato sauce;
  • tobacco products.

If you can’t give up your favourite beverages, try using a straw, as this help to keep the products from coming into contact with your teeth.

Overall, in-office whitening is a safer way to improve the shade of your teeth and boost your self-esteem and confidence for years to come.

Children and Fizzy Drinks: the Truth

Despite the fact that drinking sugary fizzy drinks gets bad publicity if consumed in excess, it doesn’t seem to have much effect on the amount of fizzy drinks that children still consume.

Too many fizzy drinks and too little water

Health professionals state that children should be drinking at least 1.8 litres of water a day, but statistics reveal that the areal average amounts are far less, at only half a litre daily. The rest of a child’s liquid requirements are coming from fizzy drinks. The facts are even worse for the youngest age group of 4 to 10 years, who are drinking just 276ml of water on a daily basis.

There are a number of far-reaching consequences of consuming so much sweetened drinks. Over the long term there is a serious chance of developing life-changing diabetes. It has been discovered that by eliminating just one fizzy drink and replacing it with water could substantially reduce this risk.

The public health facts concerning what constitutes liquid suggest that fizzy drinks shouldn’t be counted as part of your daily water requirements. This is because the sugar amounts in the drinks are hypertonic, which means that the dissolved substances in the drink make it more concentrated than your body fluids. Liquids that do count towards the recommended liquid daily amounts include water (the best), low-fat milk, tea and coffee.

A glass of tap water is better than a can of fizzy drink

The consequences of consuming so much fizzy drink has left health professionals no choice but to recommend that tap water should be the key drink for children. It’s not just diabetes that’s a concern but a child’s oral health is affected too. Each 330 ml can of fizzy drink contains up to two teaspoons of sugar. If a fizzy drink is consumed at a lunch break and the child doesn’t brush his or her teeth until the evening it exposes the teeth to tooth erosion that over time wears the teeth away.

What happens to your teeth when you drink a fizzy drink?

When you consume a fizzy drink the sugar attaches itself to your teeth. Bacteria that are present in your mouth thrive off the sugar residue left behind by the drink.  As it consumes it acid is produced which in turn eats away or erodes the enamel which is the strong outer layer of your teeth. This erosion makes teeth weak as they become thinner.  As a result, this exposes the teeth to cavity formation which is the start of tooth decay. The consumption of fizzy drinks is the commonest cause of tooth decay.

Sugar free fizzy drinks can damage your teeth

Diet fizzy drinks, citrus fruit drinks like orange, grapefruit and mandarin, which are 100% fruit juice can be surprisingly damaging to your teeth. Even though these drinks may be either sugar-free or contain minimal amounts of sugar, certainly far less than standard fizzy drinks, they can still damage your teeth. Diet fizzy drinks contain tartaric acid, phosphoric acid and citric acid which erode away the teeth’s enamel. Studies comparing erosion of teeth caused by diet and non-diet fizzy drinks have revealed there is little difference in the wearing down of teeth.

If your child is the 1 in 5 who drinks 10 or more fizzy drinks every week you should ensure that he or she regularly attends dental check-ups to help to identify and treat teeth erosion before it is too late.

If you would like to book your child for a consultation, just contact us.

What are Clear Braces?

Braces treatment used to be most commonly used for teenagers, as worried parents feared that their children would not get the most out of life if they had to live with a mouth full of crooked, unattractive teeth. Times have moved on since then and those who missed out on braces treatment when they were young have been searching for ways they can restore their facial appearance and smile with confidence but not necessarily keen on filling their mouths with what was often termed to be railroad tracks.

This has brought about the invention of clear braces treatment which is so much more aesthetic than wearing heavy metal braces. Many types can be barely seen if at all. They are not necessarily useful for all types of misalignment problems but they can help to correct:

  • crooked teeth;
  • overbite;
  • widely spaced out teeth or crowding.

Who make good candidates for clear braces?

Your orthodontist can make those sorts of decisions but generally they are considered to be more appropriate for adults and late teenagers.

Popular clear braces include:

  • ceramic braces;
  • inside braces;
  • clear aligners.

Ceramic braces resemble metal braces, except tooth-coloured brackets are used and not metal, so the tooth-coloured ceramic merges with your teeth ensuring they are barely noticeable. Inside braces are called invisible, as they are fixed on the back of your teeth while lingual braces such as “iBraces” and clear aligners make braces treatment almost invisible.

Ceramic or clear braces

These aren’t quite as strong as metal braces while the brackets are bigger. They need small rubber bands, or ligatures, to keep them attached to the arch wire. Every month the clear ligatures are changed when adjustments are needed as your teeth move into the correct position. Due to their strength clear braces do need quite a long treatment time compared to metal braces.

Inside braces

These include brands like 3M’s iBraces, which are fixed behind the teeth so they can’t be seen. Images taken from the inside of the teeth create computer-designed brackets that are fixed behind the upper teeth and on occasions the lower ones. The beauty of these types of braces is not only are they barely visible but they can’t be removed by the user.

They are fairly new in the orthodontic treatment options so not all orthodontists have gained sufficient confidence to fit and manage them.

Clear aligners

The well know brand of aligners called Invisalign falls into the “clear aligner” group and are removable, clear aligners which are custom-fitted with the aim of providing almost discomfort free treatment. They are practically invisible and brackets are not necessary.

They can be removed if necessary but they should be kept in the mouth for at least 22 hours a day to be of any use. Your orthodontist may recommend that a new set of aligners is fitted every 2 weeks depending on the progress of the movement of your teeth. These please many users because each time a set is replaced you can see the progress of your teeth.

When you look at that crooked smile and wish you had braces treatment when you were younger, make an appointment with your orthodontist and see what clear braces he or she recommends for you.

How Oral Hygiene Impacts Your Health

There are many reasons why people sometimes fail to maintain good oral hygiene, one of which is pure laziness. It’s so easy to go to bed or even go to work without bothering to go through the brushing and flossing routine. A lot of people may think chewing a bit of gum is sufficient to keep the mouth smelling fresh. When you are young failing to clean the teeth regularly won’t impact too much on the colour of your teeth until you begin to age. However, it’s not just the colour of your teeth and how fresh your breath smells. There are other reasons why maintaining good oral health hygiene is important.

The presence of bacteria and oral hygiene

You may not realise this, but your mouth harbours damaging bacteria, especially when plaque and its hardened form tartar cling to your teeth and allow bacteria to thrive. Eventually, if not removed, the enamel on the surface of your teeth becomes damaged and cavities start to form, which could lead to more serious afflictions like painful tooth abscesses when bacteria finds its way into the root of the tooth and causes a painful infection.

These sorts of oral health problems can be stopped in their tracks, not only be keeping to a good flossing and brushing routine but by regular visits to your dentist who will thoroughly clean your teeth and eliminate plaque and tartar build-up. At the same time, any sign of cavity formation can be repaired by cleaning out the bacteria and filling the tooth.

The bad side of poor oral hygiene and general health outcomes

Unfortunately, if you neglect your oral hygiene, more sinister things could happen to your health. Periodontal disease caused by bacteria could enter your bloodstream through your bleeding gums. It has been discovered that this could cause heart disease as the bacteria enter the bloodstream and travels through the blood vessels to the heart, possibly initiating a heart attack.

Endocarditis is another possible outcome of poor dental hygiene. This is when bacteria find their way to the heart’s inner lining and its valves. This could cause growth in bacteria in pockets, which could cause infection and inflammation of the heart’s inner linings. A stroke is caused by a narrowing of the walls of the artery. It has been suggested that as the body reacts to the presence of bacteria which has entered the blood stream via the mouth that it assists with the narrowing of the arteries. There are other conditions that are made worse by the presence of bacteria that have formed in the mouth. These include: rheumatoid arthritis, the lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia.

The best 3 ways to maintain good oral hygiene are:

  • brushing at least twice a day with a soft bristled tooth brush;
  • flossing your teeth with the same frequency as brushing;
  • seeing your dentist at least twice a year or more if you notice you have a problem worth treating.

Put the above words into action and you will have done the best you can do to keep your teeth and overall body healthy.

Why do Gums Bleed?

On occasions you may notice when rinsing your mouth after brushing or flossing signs of blood, or you may even taste the blood. Blood occurring in these sorts of situations is not necessarily bad but if it happens almost every time you go through your teeth cleaning routines. The best thing to do is to arrange an appointment with your dentist who will be able to diagnose the cause of the bleeding and set your mind at rest and suggest a treatment option.

Causes of bleeding gums


Unfortunately, despite eating healthy foods and avoiding sugary products and soft drinks, gum disease can occur, which could result in bleeding gums. The positive side to this is that the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis is quite treatable. It is when you have failed to eliminate the plaque from the surface of your teeth during routine brushing and flossing sessions. Bacteria that thrive in plaque can lead to gingivitis. This condition is when you may experience swollen gums which become tender and may even bleed when you brush and floss. This early stage of gum disease can be reversed if you keep up more regular flossing and brushing routines and go to your dentist to have a professional clean when all the damaging plaque and tartar is removed.

Blood thinning medications

Some medications are known to cause bleeding gums. This includes blood thinners prescribed to individuals to help to decrease the chance of blood clots forming. When you are brushing your teeth and you are taking blood thinner medications your gums may bleed more easily. You should tell your dentist about the problem so a solution can be found.

Back to flossing after a break

If you have neglected to floss your teeth for a while and then re-start you could experience bleeding gums for a short period.

Choosing the wrong toothbrush

Some people believe a nice hard, new toothbrush is best for teeth cleaning. This is not always the case. If you find your gums bleed you should revert to a softer bristled tooth brush which will be far kinder to your gums. If you are not sure what sort of toothbrush suits your teeth ask some advice from your dentist who will point you in the right direction.

Pregnancy and bleeding gums

A few women going through the various stages of a pregnancy may find that their gums become swollen and unexpectedly bleed. This is referred to as pregnancy gingivitis and is known to take place due to changes in hormone activity experienced while pregnant, which affects the way the body responds to the bacteria that may cause gum disease.

What you should do if your gums bleed

If you are experiencing bleeding gums, you shouldn’t leave it until the gingivitis has got out of hand, but you should rigorously maintain your flossing and brushing routine and arrange an appointment with your dentist to discuss the cause and treatment options.

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Celebs Wear Braces Too!

When you decide to improve the way you look, in particular what you look like when you smile, you may have decided the only way to achieve this goal is to get braces treatment from your orthodontist. It’s not just you that thinks this, but celebrities have braces treatment on their mind too. A celeb may sing or act well, which of course is important, but an award winning smile attracts fans and gives a boost to a celeb’s confidence. Once braces treatment is complete, celebs want to keep that award winning smile for the rest of their lives.

If you would like proof of a celeb that has had braces treatment take a look at Tom Cruise’s smile in “Rain Man”, Jerry Maguire in “The Firm” and compare the smile you see before he had braces treatment in “Tropic Thunder” or “Valkyrie”. There is no escaping the fact that a mouth full of white, gleaming, straight teeth can really influence just how well a celeb can perform an act. The better you think your smile is, the better you will perform. Braces are used as a treatment amongst celebs and non-celebs alike, as they do the same thing.

Teenage celebs get braces treatment too

The teenage years are the commonest time for getting braces treatment and that includes teenage celebs. Emma Watson, who became famous for the part she played as Hermione Granger in the films of Harry Potter, was a braces wearer when she was fifteen years old. Dakota Fanning, who started her film career at 7 years old, was a recipient of braces. It didn’t take long to figure out that Taylor Swift has worn braces as it only takes looking at old and new photos of the actor and you will see the amount of orthodontic work she has had done.

Adult celebs and braces

The singer, Faith Hill, certainly didn’t conceal the fact that she wore braces as she was seen with them in place at the Grammy Awards in 2013. Allegedly, Gwen Stefani, the rock star, couldn’t get braces treatment when she was young because her parents couldn’t afford it, but that hasn’t stopped her now! The famous actress, Faye Dunaway, recipient of an Academy Award, didn’t worry about getting braces when she was young. She only took the leap when she was 61 years old! Other well-known celebs who have been through braces treatment include Oprah Winfrey, Katherine Heigl and Heidi Klum.

What braces treatment does for celebs

A gleaming, white straight smile not only boosts a celeb’s confidence, but promotes good oral health too. Their careers are all about attracting attention and there is no better way of doing that than through a nice, healthy looking smile. Some stars don’t mind at all if their fans see them wearing braces but for those who are a little more self conscious advances in less conscious treatments such as Invisalign and lingual braces which are fitted out of the way behind the teeth cater for all the celebs needs.


Who Invented Toothpaste?

Toothpaste may seem to have been around for as long as you can remember, but ask one of your grandparents and you may find out that before toothpaste became commonplace people used to use a powder that more or less did the same thing.

Tooth powders and toothpastes help to keep the teeth clean and with regular brushing and flossing remove food fragments and sticky bacteria laden plaque from the parts of the teeth where they can do the most damage, in between the teeth and close to the gums.

Toothpaste is basically made of four or five ingredients:

  • an abrasive, which scours the teeth and removes food and plaque;
  • fluoride, which helps to strengthen the hard enamel part of the teeth and prevent tooth decay;
  • detergents, which make the toothpaste froth up in the mouth;
  • flavours, such as peppermint, which make toothpaste taste better without impacting on its cleaning properties;
  • humectants, which keep the paste from drying out.

Who invented toothpaste?

The history of toothpaste is quite a long one. Some people way back in the past probably used to keep their teeth clean by using a primitive toothbrush made out of a frayed stick, but it was probably the early Egyptians that actually invented a cleaning powder used for cleaning the teeth. Like more modern tooth powders and pastes, it contained an abrasive, but the Egyptians made theirs from crushed pumice, powdered, burnt eggshells, myrrh and the ashes of ox hooves!

The Romans and Greeks invented their own version of tooth powder. It used crushed oyster shells and bones as an abrasive.

It has been reported that an Iraqi musician actually designed the first toothpaste which was apparently so pleasant to use that its use spread right through to Spain under Moorish influence. That was back in the ninth century.

These early tooth powders and pastes were probably rubbed on to the teeth and gums using rags or sticks.

Modern toothpastes

Commercial toothpowders, using chalk, salt or baking soda, became much more widely used in the nineteenth century. Colgate still makes a tooth powder that is marketed in India. By this time, the first toothbrushes were being made and used together with powders.

It wasn’t until the First World War that pastes, often containing hydrogen peroxide and baking powder, became more popular than powders. The paste was soon put into a collapsible tube. The first tubes were made out of lead foil until it was discovered that lead was poisonous!

Colgate can probably be credited with the first toothpaste, containing ingredients in a familiar form and by the 1950s it was becoming more common for fluoride to be added, as it was acknowledged that this helped to strengthen the natural tooth enamel.

Does modern toothpaste do any good?

Most dentists would advise you to maintain an oral hygiene routine at home consisting of regular brushing with a flexible toothbrush and toothpaste together with flossing between the teeth. Toothpaste is part of the process of maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but is not a guarantee that you will never have any problems with your teeth. It is suggested that you make regular visits to your dentist to check that your teeth and gums are in a healthy condition and to pre-empt potential problems before they get too serious.

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Do Braces Hurt?

If you are going to have braces fitted, whether these are fixed braces or Invisalign, you may be wondering how much it is going to hurt, or if it is going to hurt at all. The honest answer is that compared to many other dental procedures, the fitting and wearing of braces is rarely painful, although there is a certain amount of discomfort which most people feel is manageable. Just to reassure you, we will outline the main steps in the process below.

Measuring up for braces

The orthodontist will want to know the shape of your teeth. This usually involves making a mould of your teeth in the area where the braces are needed. This is not painful at all, although it may seem a bit strange as the paste sets around your teeth.

Fitting the braces

After the braces have been made, you will have a session where they will be fitted. If you have chosen to use aligners, like Invisalign, this is a simple process where the orthodontist will show you how to fit them and remove them. If you have chosen fixed braces then they will be fixed in place using cement, which is set using a special light and then tightened using wires. This procedure is not painful, but you may feel some discomfort as the braces are fitted in place.

Immediately after the braces have been fitted, it may be best to eat soft food rather than tackle what you would normally eat, especially if this involves a lot of biting and chewing.

The first few days after fitting the braces

This is when the braces will start to do their job, which is to gently move your teeth into a healthier and more visually natural position. In a few cases, you may feel some pain which can be relieved through the use of pain killers, like aspirin, paracetamol, codeine or ibuprofen. Your orthodontist will discuss this with you before you leave the clinic with your new braces.

As well as a little pain, you may feel discomfort as the presence of wires and ligatures inside your mouth rubs up against your teeth, gums and tongue. Your orthodontist may prescribe a wax you can use and apply from time to time to relieve the pressure of the braces against other parts of your mouth. Usually, this feeling of discomfort lasts no longer than the first few days after the braces have been fitted.

Further adjustments

You will need to visit your orthodontist from time to time to make sure that the braces are working to correct your teeth and make adjustments where necessary. As with the first appointment where the braces were fitted, there may be a little discomfort when the braces are tightened or relaxed.

Time to take the braces off

This will definitely be seen as a relief and generally it does not involve any pain at all. It does require some pressure as the braces are removed and the remaining cement detached from your teeth, but there should be no pain involved, just the feeling of pressure.

Following the removal of the braces, a removable or permanent retainer will probably be fitted. The retainer remains in your mouth and prevents the teeth that have been shifted into a better position from reverting back to where they were before.

Still worried? Talk to your orthodontist before the procedure!

If you are still worried about how you are going to cope with any discomfort, then it is sensible to discuss this fully with your orthodontist before deciding to have braces fitted. You will be pleasantly surprised about just how painless the whole procedure really is!

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What Does a Dental Implant Look Like?

A dental implant is an imitation tooth fixed firmly into your jawbone in the gap where the original tooth once was. A dental implant looks and feels like a natural tooth and after a while you may start to believe that you never lost a tooth in the first place. .

The stages for placing a dental implant

Dental implant surgery is becoming far more common and usually takes place in the dentist’s surgery. It’s not a painful process, but just to ensure you remain comfortable throughout the whole procedure a local anaesthetic is usually used. There are also other types of sedation available, such as nitrous oxide, intravenous sedation and oral sedation. Once the type of sedation has been determined and you are happy with the arrangement, the implant will be put in place.

The first stage consists of drilling a hole and burying the implant, which is an artificial root made from titanium, into the bone. The implant will be under the gum but in line with the bone and it will be covered over until it has healed.

During the second stage, the implant will need to be uncovered and an abutment will be placed over the implant. The gum is then left to heal around the abutment and when this has been completed an artificial tooth is fixed on top. Sometimes an abutment is fixed in place with the implant, but even though this may save time the bone still needs to osseointegrate with the implant.

A one-stage dental implant

This method uses a one-piece implant with a metal collar that protrudes through the gum while the implant is being accepted by the bone. After some healing time, an abutment is linked up to the implant and an artificial tooth is placed on top.

How long will a dental implant last?

Dental implant technology is not that new. Up to now it is unable to boast a 100 percent success rate, but on average it is closer to 90 percent. If a dental implant fails to successfully integrate with its surroundings it will need to be removed. It is possible to replace it and have another go at implanting. All this depends on how much useful bone remains after the old implant has been removed. Sometimes it may be necessary to take a small piece of bone from another part of your body and graft it onto the bone into the space where the implant will need to be placed. This offers more strength for the dental implant.

A dental implant offers several benefits over other options for tooth replacement such as dentures.

  • It looks and functions like a normal tooth.
  • It replaces one tooth and does not affect the health of adjacent teeth.
  • A tooth supported by a fixed bridge involves filing down adjacent teeth so that can more easily be cemented to the bridge.
  • Dental implants help to maintain healthy bone as they integrate with it.

If you believe a dental implant is right for you, contact your dentist for an assessment of your teeth and the move you should take next.

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Which Braces Should I Get?

Not everyone is fortunate to be born with perfect teeth. Many people find they are too afraid to smile because their teeth are so crooked that a smile turns other people’s heads away. However, all is not lost, as there are orthodontic solutions available to treat misaligned or crooked teeth that are effective and life changing. You should arrange an appointment with your orthodontist to see which are the most suitable for you. Here is an outline below of some of the types of braces available today.

Traditional braces

Traditional braces used to be made of metal that appeared like train tracks in the mouth. Over the years, lighter and better structured braces have emerged. They are now made from a high-grade stainless steel with the metal brackets being attached to each individual tooth using a non-toxic cement. The brackets are connected to each other using a slim archwire, which puts the necessary pressure on to the teeth, causing them to move slowly into the correct position.

Ceramic Braces

The way ceramic braces work is similar to traditional braces. The main difference is that the brackets are made of a ceramic material that’s transparent. These types of braces are popular because they can’t be seen so easily by others so adults who have a lot of face to face contact prefer this type of braces.

Damon braces

Overall, braces are not a cheap treatment option, but there are some types, such as Damon Braces, that are not only gentler in the mouth but fewer dentist visits are required. They are self-ligating and a slide mechanism is used to connect the archwires which is not elastic. These braces don’t need any regular adjustment as they can move the teeth on their own. This as a result causes far less pressure and friction on the teeth and it’s less painful.

Removable and clear aligners

Invisalign is a substitute for Damon braces. It includes a number of clear plastic aligners which look like mouth guards, and are custom-made just for you. They can be removed for cleaning and eating and every 2 weeks they need to be changed for a new set. Each set moves your teeth one step closer to their desirable position. Often, clear aligners are recommended for use once you have completed the required orthodontic treatment as they help to keep the results you are after until your teeth have settled into the most desirable position.

Palatal expanders

For those who have been told they have overcrowded teeth there are 2 options available. One is extracting the teeth and the second is the use of palatal expanders. A palatal expander is a device that is custom fitted to your palate which applies significant pressure to the rear of your upper molars which gradually moves your teeth apart. This serves to expand your palate and makes it possible for other types of braces to be fitted to correct the position of your teeth.

Your orthodontist can recommend the best braces for your teeth

There is no hard and fast way of choosing the best braces for you so you should contact your orthodontist who has the experience to make the right choice on your behalf.

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