Senior’s Oral Health

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As a population, seniors have long been plagued by dental issues. Oftentimes, seniors’ oral health may deteriorate along with their teeth as they age.  We will discuss some of the most common issues with seniors’ teeth.

DRY MOUTH
The American Dental Association reports that dry mouth is the most common reason for cavities among seniors. Dry mouth is not a natural part of getting older; rather, it is a symptom of numerous medical conditions and the side effects of more than 500 medications, including those used to treat diabetes, stroke, oral thrush, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and other autoimmune disorders. A dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors, including snoring and mouth breathing.

The average person’s prescribed medication intake tends to rise as they become older. This causes many elderly people to have problems with dry mouth. Your dentist may inquire as to whether or not you are taking any drugs for this reason. If you suffer from dry mouth, we can recommend therapies to alleviate the discomfort and decrease the likelihood of cavities. Here are popular practices recommended by dentists:

  •  Hydrate yourself more
  •  Substitute dry-mouth-preventing drugs wherever feasible
  •  Make use of a soothing mouth rinse
  •  To increase saliva flow, try chewing sugar-free gum
  •  Run a humidifier
  •  Use lip balm
  •  Take advantage of fluoride therapy
  •  Try to abstain from caffeine and liquor
  •  Do not use any tobacco products
  •  Keep away from OTC decongestants and antihistamines
  •  Cut back on the sweets and processed meals (These increase the risk of tooth decay)
  •  Stay away from alcoholic mouthwashes

LOSS OF TEETH AND THE PROCESS OF DECAY
Seniors need to take extra care of their oral health because they have a higher risk of dental decay. Cavities in seniors’ teeth typically occur around the gum line or even under it. Dry mouth makes the elderly particularly vulnerable. Tooth decay is quite common, so even if it may not have been an issue in the past it is  important to practice good oral hygiene to reduce your risk. It is important to keep up with  dental checkups.  This enables us to check for the development of cavities and promptly fill them before they cause significant damage that necessitates more invasive measures, such as extraction.

GUM DISEASE
Another prevalent oral health issue among the over-60 crowd is gum disease, often called periodontal disease. Plaque bacteria irritate gums, causing them to become inflamed, red, and bleed easily. Comparatively speaking, the early stages of gum disease seldom cause much discomfort.  If left unchecked this condition may worsen over time.

Because gum disease is most effectively treated when discovered in its earliest stages, getting regular dental checkups as you age is just as crucial as it was when you were younger.

ORAL CANCER
Most individuals grossly underestimate how prevalent oral cancer actually is. Each year, more than 54,000 cases of oral cancer are identified, according to the American Cancer Society. The majority of these cases are patients over the age of 60.

Oral cancer screenings are routinely performed on patients during dental checkups.  In its early stages, oral cancer, like gum disease, seldom causes any discomfort. But it is essential to schedule and keep your dental appointments at Las Vegas Smile throughout your life, as early diagnosis can treat or eliminate any major issues.

OTHER DENTISTRY PROBLEMS
In addition to the aforementioned issues, the following are also frequently encountered by older citizens and their dentists

  • Discolored teeth
  • Lack of or diminished capacity for detecting flavors
  • Infection of the roots
  • Thrush
  • Stomatitis caused by wearing dentures
  • Misaligned jawbone
  • Tooth decay

Heart Disease & Poor Oral Health

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Studies show that pathogens from the mouth can infiltrate the bloodstream and cause blood clots and major cardiac issues.

A study that was published in 2018 with data from almost a million participants with over 65,000 cardiac events (such as heart attack) identified a significant link between poor dental health and coronary heart disease after accounting for age.  Therefore, is it important to see your Las Vegas Smile dentist at least twice a year.

How are heart disease and poor oral health connected?

  • -The bacteria responsible for gum disease and periodontal disease can spread to other parts of the body and inflame or even destroy the blood vessels. The result might be the formation of blood clots, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Evidence for this notion comes from the detection of oral bacteria spores in atherosclerotic blood arteries located in distant parts of the body.
  • -Inflammation, a natural part of the body’s immunological response to bacterial infection, triggers a chain reaction that damages blood vessels all over the body, including the heart and brain.
  • -Hypotheses suggest that lack of access to healthcare and inactivity are also possible causes. Oral and cardiovascular disease may be more prevalent among those who lack access to health care or who don’t prioritize their health.

According to an article from The Mayo Clinic, studies have shown:

  • -Inflammation of the gums, also known as periodontitis, has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • -Bacterial infections in the bloodstream can harm heart valves, and this risk is increased by poor oral health. Those who have had artificial heart valves may find that maintaining good oral hygiene is of utmost importance.
  • -Heart disease and tooth loss follow similar trends.
  • -Evidence suggests that patients with diabetes can benefit from periodontal care and that there is a link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

How it happens

Science Daily reports: A member of the Society for General Microbiology claims that bacteria that cause plaque in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and raise the risk of heart attack. Brushing and flossing regularly can keep mouth bacteria in check, but if you don’t, they can cause a lot of trouble, as explained by Professor Howard Jenkinson of the University of Bristol. According to him, “poor oral hygiene can cause bleeding gums, allowing bacteria to escape into the circulatory system, where they can create blood clots which can eventually result in heart disease.”

Plaque and gum issues are both caused by streptococcus bacteria, which thrive in the mouth in communities known as “biofilms.” The Streptococcus bacterium, once released into the circulatory system, can use a surface protein called PadA as a tool to push platelets in the blood to attach together and shape clots, as demonstrated by researchers at the University of Bristol who teamed up with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)’s scientists.

Professor Jenkinson explains that bacteria utilize the formation of blood clots for their own selfish purposes. If the platelets clump together tight enough, they can trap the germs within. The immune system and any drugs used to treat an infection are both shielded from this, he explained. Platelet clumping, in addition to aiding the bacteria, can lead to growths on the heart valves (endocarditis), tiny blood clots, or blood artery inflammation that can cut off blood flow to the brain and heart.

Why You Should See a Dentist Twice a Year?

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Many people often put off their dental appointments for far too long. Dental procedures can be expensive and unpleasant for those who wait until they are in pain or have an ailment to see a dentist. As a result, prevention is the best strategy.

Having your teeth checked for cavities and having them cleaned on a regular basis is essential. Visiting the dentist regularly may go a long way toward ensuring that your teeth continue to remain in top shape. Gum disease is more widespread than most people realize, therefore it’s important to have your gums inspected often.

In general, your dentist will advise you to come in twice a year for checkups. This is because cavities typically take around a year to form. The sooner a dentist can detect a cavity, the more likely it is that he or she can fill it and save the tooth. Being preventative can save you a lot of pain and anguish in the future.

Routine Visits
The oral examination and the cleaning are the two main components of a dental cleaning appointment. When the dentist examines you, they will be looking for signs of decay.  X-rays may be needed to detect cavities between teeth in some circumstances.

During your visit, the dentist will also keep an eye out for any indications of plaque and tartar buildup, gum diseases, or cancer.

Gum Disease
Our dentist constantly checks for gum disease in our patients since healthy gums are the basis for good teeth. We use a device that measures the depth of the gap between your gums and teeth to examine your gum health. In healthy teeth, there are less gaps between them, but in those with gum disease, they grow deeper.

Detecting gum disease early can help prevent more significant dental concerns from developing.

Plaque and Tartar
There is little more to plaque than a transparent, sticky covering of bacterial colonies that adhere to teeth. The sticky stuff will harden and turn into tartar if not removed. Brushing and flossing will not remove tartar. Tartar can only be removed from teeth by a dentist, and once it has built up, the patient is more vulnerable to developing various oral conditions.

Tongue, Throat, and Neck Cancers
A dental appointment should also include an assessment of the face, teeth, tongue, throat, neck and head. The dentist is on the lookout for any signs of malignancy, such as swelling, redness, or other changes to the tissue.

Detecting potential problems in the tissue at an early stage is critical for our patients, which is why we take it extremely seriously at Las Vegas Smile Dental.

Uses, Dangers, and Side effects of Fluoride – Are Your Teeth Safe?

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You might have heard about fluoride being present in your toothpaste or tap water. Well, who hasn’t heard about it? But what is fluoride? Fluoride comes from the element fluorine, the first halogen of the periodic table. Fluoride is relatively unstable in itself. Therefore, it is usually present as a salt combined with soft metals. In this dental blog, we will be overviewing the advantages and disadvantages of fluoride in water and toothpaste and its possible adverse effects on the body.

Where is fluoride found?
Fluoride is present in almost all dental products, varying from toothpaste to mouthwashes or fluoride gels. In most countries, fluoride is also present in your tap water naturally or due to water fluoridation. Fluoridation of water refers to a process that involves adding fluoride to the public water supply. The most common form of fluoride found in these sources is the salt Sodium Fluoride (NaF).

Uses of Fluoride
Now that we know that fluoride is surrounding our teeth from all sides, we can dive into its uses. Since you are concerned for your teeth, we will focus on the mechanisms regarding fluoride’s role in tooth and enamel protection. Fluoride does it in a couple of ways:

  • Anti-bacterial action – the bacteria present in the mouth are culprits for many diseases, including cavities and dental caries. Fluoride inhibits the excess bacteria growth. First, it enters the bacterial cells and inhibits or stops their enzymes, restricting their growth. Moreover, It maintains an acidic environment in the mouth which is not favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria, thus, have to use way more energy to fight the low pH and lose their ability to flourish.
  • Enhanced remineralization and reduced de-mineralization – mineralization of teeth simply means adding calcium, collagen, and phosphorus to the teeth’ enamel. Fluoride aids in the new mineralization of teeth and promotes retention of previous teeth minerals. This is also partly due to its antimicrobial properties. Decreased bacterial attachment to the teeth leads to stronger teeth.

Summing up, fluoride keeps you from getting dental caries and enamel loss. You might want to thank fluoride in your toothpaste for your strong and shiny teeth.

Side Effects of Fluoride
While most of us are only aware of the pros of fluoride, there are some cons too. The truth is that water fluoridation is a growing concern among health authorities as it poses health risks. The topical use of fluoride, i.e., via toothpaste and mouthwashes is deemed protective. Conversely, the ingestion of fluoride through fluoridated water brings about conditions such as fluorosis.

What is Fluorosis?
Fluorosis is a condition characterized by excess fluoride in your blood. This excess fluoride, unfortunately, attacks the enamel of your teeth from the inside. Fluorosis is concerning during a child’s development, the time teeth are forming and growing. This condition may appear as white spots or blotches on your teeth.

Apart from the teeth, ingestion of fluoride may cause problems with the gastrointestinal system like nausea, bloating, and diarrhea. Ingestions of excess fluoride salts are also linked with hypertension in some people.

Verdict
Generally speaking, fluoride is an essential element that has documented teeth-health benefits. In most developed countries, the amount of fluoride in water is controlled so it doesn’t cause any adverse effects. However, it is better to use fluoride via topical formulations like toothpaste and mouthwashes.

*If you or your loved ones are experiencing caries, tooth pain, or irritation in your teeth, contact us today (your las vegas smile dentist today). A shiny, healthy smile is enough for making someone’s day better. *

 

References:

  1. Aoun A, Darwiche F, Al Hayek S, Doumit J. The Fluoride Debate: The Pros and Cons of Fluoridation. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2018;23(3):171-180. doi:10.3746/pnf.2018.23.3.171
  2. Fluoride and healthy teeth. Paediatr Child Health. 2002;7(8):575-584. doi:10.1093/pch/7.8.575

Dry Mouth – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

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Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where the salivary glands do not produce a sufficient amount of saliva, thus this lack of saliva gives off a dry and uncomfortable sensation in the mouth.

Saliva contains enzymes and immunoglobulins that are vital to our digestion process; it moistens and breaks down food which makes it easier to swallow. Also, saliva offers a constant washing effect that removes food debris and bacteria away from gums and teeth.

In the following article, we will cover the symptoms of dry mouth, its causes, and treatment options.

Symptoms of dry mouth

  • Constant feeling of thirst, especially at night.
  • Dry sensation in the mouth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Sore throat
  • Problems in speaking.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Frequent fungal infection.
  • Cracked lips, especially in mouth corners.
  • Red, sore and inflamed tongue.

Causes of dry mouth

  • Dehydration: This is when your body loses plenty of fluids, such as in cases of vomiting or excessive sweating. The salivary glands will try to preserve body fluids by reducing the amount of saliva produced.
  • Tobacco usage: lifestyle habits like smoking and chewing tobacco can further aggravate the symptoms of dry mouth.
  • Aging: Dry mouth is common in seniors; this can be due to health issues or as a side effect of the medication they are consuming.
  • Stress and anxiety: in these states, the body will produce a stress hormone that will negatively impact the salivary gland and lead to less saliva production.
  • Medication: Dry mouth is one of the common side effects of many drugs, such as antihypertensive, antimalaria, muscle relaxants and antidepressants.
  • Health problems: Having a dry mouth can be a symptom of an underlying medical issue such as diabetes, Sjogren syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and anemia.
  • Radiation therapy: radiotherapy to the head and neck can directly damage the salivary glands, which results in reduced saliva production.
  • Nerve damage: sustaining an injury or having surgery to the head and neck region can cause damage to nerves and lead to dry mouth.

Complications

Dry mouth is a condition that should not be taken lightly and should be checked on your next dental checkup; not managing it can lead to serious complications like developing a sore mouth, gum inflammation, oral fungal infection, increased calculus formation on teeth and poor nutrition due to difficulty in chewing and swallowing.

Treatment options for dry mouth

 First, you need to take good care of your teeth and gums by brushing your teeth and flossing every day. Also, your dentist at Las Vegas Smile will recommend frequent checkups and cleaning appointments to remove calculus and bacteria; this will prevent caries and gum inflammation.

Secondly, you may be offered over-the-counter artificial saliva which will moisten the mouth. If dry mouth was a side effect of a medication you are currently taking, you will be referred to your physician to alter your medication to another type.

Finally, apply simple remedies to elevate dry mouth symptoms such as frequent sipping of water, chewing sugarless gum, avoiding tobacco usage, and limiting salt intake in your diet.

How Eating can Affect the Mouth and Teeth?

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A fresh and glowing smile could be your biggest strength. Where ever we go or whoever we meet, a bright smile seals a good impression. On the contrary, if you experience conditions like pale teeth, broken or chipped teeth, or chapped lips it might be hard for you to make an astonishing appearance. Moreover, you could develop some gross diseases like gingivitis, tooth decay, caries, etc. that might cause you pain and discomfort.

Keeping regular mouth hygiene, along with dental visits and healthy food, is usually the most important factor determining your mouth and teeth health. On the flip side, certain eating habits can harm your mouth and teeth health badly. For instance, eating too much or too little potentially leads to various teeth problems and agony. However, you can read through the following article and know what eating habits can be detrimental to your oral health and how you can avoid them to look crisp and confident.

Not drinking enough water
If you hear someone stressing out about staying hydrated you should take note of that. Staying hydrated helps your lips look plump and fresh, your immune system gets stronger, and drinking water also helps wash the excess buildup around your gums and teeth. Keeping a bottle of water in your backpack will do you wonders.

Snacking too often
According to various surveys most people have a habit of brushing their teeth twice a day i.e., around their main meals. However, most people don’t brush or clean their teeth after having snacks around in the day. If you like to snack a lot for example eating chips, candies, and chocolates i.e., sticky food, you are likely to have a higher DMFT index (decayed, missing due to caries, and filled teeth).

Sticky components of the food like sugar or fats tend to stay around the gums and teeth eventually getting acted upon by bacteria. Inadequate removal of these bacteria and residual matter on the teeth leads to unhealthy mouth and teeth.

Eating at irregular times
Many people face a hectic routine in today’s competitive world making it difficult to meal regularly. Irregular meal times are associated with irregular mouth hygiene practices. Putting it simply, staying up late at night will likely force you to eat something and you are likely to forget brushing or mouth washing. Eventually, your teeth and mouth become unhealthy leading to various problems.

Eating processed food
The fast-food market is one of the ever-growing industries in the United States. Cheap and ready-to-eat meals are available apparently for people’s convenience, however, most of this food is processed and unhealthy. Processed food contains unhealthy carbs, fats, and inadequate amounts of protein. These foods frequently cause a build-up of plaque and debris in your mouth leading to a needed dental cleaning.

Healthy Mouth and Teeth
You can avoid eating processed food by doing meal-preps that include healthy, whole food which supports a healthy oral cavity. Replacing snacks with fruits or dry fruits can improve your oral and overall health. Lastly, meal-prepping instead of eating processed food is life-saving. Having a healthy physical, including oral, and mental body is the key to enjoying moments in life.

Healthier Options & Tips for Valentine’s Day

Dental Tips for Valentines Day

On the year’s most romantic holiday, the most popular gift to bestow your sweetheart is sweets.  Here are a few tips from your local dentist to satisfy your sweetheart without compromising their oral health.

Dark Chocolate & Teeth
Dark chocolate is known for being the “healthier” option, it contains less sugar than milk chocolate.   Studies have shown Cocoa contains valuable nutrients and minerals that may help prevent cavities and decrease the risk of tooth decay. Unlike sticky candies, dark chocolate easily dissolves in your mouth, allowing the chocolate to wash off your teeth.

Consider these additional tips for maintaining good oral health during this upcoming sweet holiday:

Brush immediately 
Brushing soon after eating candy helps avoid plaque and acid formation from sugar.  If a toothbrush & toothpaste are not available at that time you can simply swish and rinse teeth thoroughly using water.  Also using mouthwash is another temporary solution to help avoid tooth decay.

Avoid hard and sticky candy.
Sweets with higher sugar content cling longer on your teeth, causing harmful effects to your oral health. The faster it dissolves, the less time it takes to rinse away leftover sugar debris. Hard candy can chip or even break your teeth.

It is recommended to choose softer foods that provide plenty of nutrients and minerals and are not just sugar chunks. On the other hand, sticky candy can get stuck between teeth and gums, making it harder to remove. Such candies are not easily broken down with your saliva (at times, not even with brushing), staying in your mouth for an unhealthy amount of time.

Make it a one-time event
From an oral health perspective, having sweet treats in one sitting (and then brushing) is better than munching on candy for the entire day, making it more likely for bacteria to produce acid that causes tooth decay.

Moderation is key
The more sugar you have, the risk increases for tooth decay. When considering oral health, limiting sugar consumption is the ideal solution for all. In addition, it is also helpful to avoid extra sugar content that is not naturally found in your food or diet!

As previously mentioned, dark chocolate is the healthier option, although excess consumption is menacing for overall health. Being high in calories, it is recommended to eat one to two ounces of dark chocolate in a day to achieve the best oral hygiene.

Reduce exposure time
Even though the oral damage varies for each candy, it is never a good idea to eat an excessive amount.  Choosing candies that quickly dissolve and melt away limits the amount of sugar exposure in your mouth.

Instead of sugar straws or lollipops, sugar-free candies are a better option for oral health. Plain dark chocolates are preferable over milk chocolates with a sugary filling like cherry or caramel!

Bottom Line
Valentine is the time for celebrating sentimental moments with your significant other. Also, your teeth need extra love and attention to help combat the sweets. Keep your smile bright and white by selecting healthier options, while still your satisfying cravings.

New Year’s resolutions to improve your dental health

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A New Year means another birthday, another favorite holiday and another chance to make that perfect smile a reality!

A New Year is also a time to reflect on past events and look towards the future with positive changes in mind – especially when it comes to overall health. We normally pay attention to the health of our bodies, which is fine, but we easily overlook that our teeth are also a fundamental part of our overall health.

Regular visits to the dentist are great for catching certain conditions in their early stages or even before they present themselves. Conditions like oral cancer or gum abscess can be detected and addressed correctly if taken care of by a dental health professional as soon as possible.

Daily care is most crucial to keeping healthy teeth and gums. Regular daily brushing is a great start! People who brush twice a day tend to have much better oral health as they are knocking out bad bacteria and plaque more often but there is another opportunity to take it one step further!

Some foods and beverages are high in damaging elements – sugar and acid. Sugar and acid are very common in most food items available and are, unfortunately, damaging to dental and oral health. Acid can stain teeth and make them appear yellow while also eroding protective layers of enamel and exposing sensitive parts of the tooth. Sugar can aid the growth of bacteria that can cause bad breath, tooth decay and even gingivitis. A good way to combat these effects is by chewing gum approved by the ADA, the American Dental Association. Another way is to brush after consuming high sugar or high acid foods and drinks.

Increasing calcium intake is a great way to keep teeth healthy and strong. Teeth are bones, plain and simple and thus require all the things bones need to keep themselves doing their best. Consuming the appropriate amount of calcium for maintaining bone (or tooth) strength can help reduce instances of tooth decay, chipped teeth and teeth falling out from being too weak.

Having a straight smile can be attractive and trust worthy but not only that! Crooked teeth can make it harder to chew food and may result in jaw problems later on. Crooked teeth are also harder to brush properly and can be a place for bacteria and plaque to hide away and do more damage.

If a great smile is on the list of New Year Resolutions, getting braces or invisalign will be a great step forward. New years are a great chance to start a new routine with a new, better smile!

Vitamins and Minerals That Help Strengthen Teeth

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There are many ways that you can help strengthen your teeth with proper oral care and regular dental office visits topping the list. However, you can also use vitamins and minerals that will keep your teeth healthier than brushing and flossing alone. After all, nutrition affects every cell, tissue, and system in your body. It stands to reason that vitamins and minerals can help strengthen teeth and minimize the risk of periodontal disease, cavities, chips, cracks, and losing teeth over time.

There are many factors that can lead to tooth decay, but we can maintain a healthy oral hygiene by following a few guidelines and take the right vitamins and minerals. Some people consider supplementation unnecessary if they eat a varied diet, but it is difficult to know if you get all dental health-boosting nutrients or not. Add these vitamins and minerals to your daily regimen and reap the benefits of long-term tooth health.

Calcium
Do you remember a parent or grandparent always telling you to drink your milk so you would have strong teeth and bones? The calcium found in dairy products, leafy greens, and legumes is an important element in building and maintaining strong teeth. After all, this mineral forms the foundation of all tooth parts including the ultra-strong enamel that protects the softer inner portion from infection and damage.

Phosphorus
A popular nutrient in meat, fish, and eggs, phosphorus is a key factor in building or rebuilding strong tooth enamel. While this can help prevent cavities and cracks to begin with, may also be instrumental in protecting teeth that have already been drilled, filled, or otherwise repaired by your dentist.

Vitamin D
Not only is vitamin D important for all body systems, tissue growth and repair, and anti-inflammatory properties, but it is also essential for the proper absorption of calcium. In other words, if you do not take this vitamin with your calcium, the mineral will not be able to do its job effectively. Besides, vitamin D deficiency has been closely linked to gum disease, which is closely associated with weak and cavity prone teeth.

Vitamin C
One of the most common antioxidants helps fight oral bacteria and inflammation. It also promotes collagen production, which positively affects both the softer dentin below the enamel of your teeth and gum tissue. Although you can take vitamin C supplements, it is also commonly found in citrus fruit and dark leafy greens like kale.

Vitamin A
While not closely associated with strong teeth, vitamin A plays a very important role in overall oral health. It provides many benefits for the mucous membranes inside your mouth, helps with healthy saliva production, and encourages healing. All of these things make it much easier for your gums and therefore teeth to stay healthy. It can also play an important role in the healing process after anything from a vigorous dental cleaning to oral surgery.

To maximize the strength of your teeth and promote lifelong oral health, be sure to get sufficient levels of these essential vitamins and minerals. Combined with effective tooth brushing, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist, they offer the perfect recipe for a healthy, attractive, and long-lasting smile.