How Smoking Impacts Teeth

Lately commercials have been highlighting the dangers of smoking. Occasionally there will be one which highlights the dangers of smoking on the health of the mouth. The dangers go beyond the surface. While I am comfortable with people walking their own paths, as I dentist I am vehemently against smoking. I know the havoc which can be inflicted on the mouth because I have seen it first hand. Hopefully, after knowing what can happen, people will be more informed and able to make an educated decision.

Leukoplakia isn’t heavily televised and most people have no idea what it is. But when it develops it is definitely a cause for concern. Smoking causes irritation to the mucous membranes around the mouth and tongue. The symptoms can range from mild to severe on a case-by-case basis. When this irritation is chronic, as is often the case with smokers, white and/or grayish patches can develop around in the mouth. Most frequently Leukoplakia is seen in senior citizens, but it can happen at anytime during the life of a person. Leukoplakia does have other causes, such as irritation from rough teeth or ill-fitting dentures and sun exposure but, smoking is towards the top of the list.

The risk of developing oral cancer increases tremendously when a person is a smoker. Oral cancer can affect the tongue, lips, gums, and throat, often spreading to incorporate more than one area. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation approximately 45,750 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer annually. Of those who are newly diagnosed, only about 57% will be alive in 5 years. On a worldwide scale, 450,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year.

Smoking is notorious for staining teeth. Those pearly whites will go to dark and dingy more and more as smoking continues. This not only affects the appearance of a person, but the stains get into the enamel and weaken it. Enamel is a very strong substance, but once erosion begins it is a hard process to stop. Once the enamel is gone, the rest of the tooth becomes vulnerable and open to decay. For this reason, smokers are as likely to develop cavities as people who do not brush. You can find out more information about whitening treatments at

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease is one of the largest reasons for tooth loss.Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for developing gum disease. Smoking encourages plaque to build up, This plaque build-up leads to gingivitis. When gingivitis does not get sufficient treatment in a timely manner, it advances to gum disease. When periodontal disease sets in, the gums begin to separate from the teeth, making them more vulnerable to infections and more likely to loosen or fall out.

Not only does smoking increase your chances of developing periodontal disease, it also hinders the effectiveness of treatments. Sometimes this can result in dry socket after having a tooth removed. The reasons available to motivate them to not smoke are numerous and apparent. The thing about our teeth is that once they are broken, cracked, chipped, or gone, it is forever. It is never too early to get a checked-up if you are concerned about your oral health.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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The Evolution of Teeth

Most of the information which has been collected on the evolution of our species has been achieved through fossil records. The femur fossils found give us a rough estimation of size of our early ancestors and the cranium tell us brain size and possible capacity. The teeth can provide us with an age, diet, and disclose many other interesting facets to the early life of hominids.
We can see from the shape of our teeth today that we come from a long line of omnivores (those who eat both vegetables and meat). This is made even more prevalent by our forward facing eyes and our development of bipedal motion.

If you go back in time to about 100 million years ago, all of our ancestor’s teeth, including their wisdom teeth, fit comfortably in the jaw structure. This was important to early man because their teeth were the key to catching and dismembering prey. These extra teeth could have been used as replacements if some of the back molars were damaged.

Remember, at this time the hominid diet was anything that may have been edible. Berries, leaves, raw meat, and roots were all fair game. As early man went on to develop larger brains, which led us to learn how to cook food, the harder foods were softened by the cooking process. More nutrients were then absorbed through food, allowing our brains to grow yet again. This means that less tooth enamel was worn down and we reach a point where wisdom teeth are no longer required, yet they remain sometimes becoming impacted in the process.

There is also a point in our history where our jaws got shorter, this pushed the wisdom teeth into the jaw. Keep in mind that this was a slow transition which took place over millions of years. In 2004, a research team from the University of Pennsylvania theorized that a mutation led hominids to have shorter jaws which allowed for the brain to grow. Their theory is intriguing but could not be conclusively proven.

We are now at a point in our history where changes and technological advancements are moving faster than the process of evolution is ready to move. All of the processed “food-like products” which are consumed on a daily basis have no natural barrier to keep them from doing damage to us on a mental, physical, and spiritual level.

It is perhaps for this reason that it is now more important than ever to take proper care of our teeth. We are also lucky enough to live in a time when we CAN take care of our teeth. 1,000, 500, 100, and even 50 years ago, dentistry was a dim light of what the field has become today. Rudimentary methods and philosophies were so prevalent that the dentists of this bygone era did not even know what they did not know. For more information on modern dental treatments visit:

Unless humanity eventually evolves to develop tartar resistant teeth, multiple sets of teeth, or enamel that is damage proof, preventative care is the best option. Regular visits to the dentist, brushing and flossing three times per day, and choosing teeth healthy snacks is the best way to make sure your smile doesn’t look like something out of the dark ages. To get answers to more dental questions visit:

Copyright Dr. Jean-Jacques Edderai -2015

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The Dangers of Thumb Sucking

Not all children are thumb suckers. Some children will like to put their fingers in their mouth and while this doesn’t seem like a troublesome habit, it is as detrimental to the development of your child’s mouth as thumb sucking. It is safe to say that if your child is very attached to thumb sucking or pacifiers or their fingers, they are not alone. Most children go through a point of thumbsucking in their lives.

The reason children suck their thumbs is the same reason they will cuddle their blanket… it makes them feel safe. It is a very relaxing behavior and on an instinctive level they know that. It is also comforting in times of anxiety, fear, and boredom. For further information on children dentistry visit here.
Officially, the age which them sucking becomes a problem is after five. But prior to that, there can be indications of dental problems. Generally, unless the problem could be permanent, the baby teeth do not get much corrective care. Children who are voracious thumb suckers may have baby teeth which have gaps or grow in crooked. Most of the time though, prior to age 5, thumb sucking will not cause problems.

It is when the adult teeth begin to form that misalignments will have more severe effects. Children who do not stop sucking their thumbs on their own are more likely to carry the habit after the development of the adult teeth begins. Thumb sucking does not always lead to dental problems. The frequency and intensity of the sucking motion will both play large role in determining if dental problems develop and how severe they may be.

As the adult teeth form, thumb sucking can make the teeth tip forward so they lean towards the lips. There can also be gaps in between teeth and gum damage as a result of the improperly aligned teeth. Later, braces and/or other corrective methods, occasionally surgery, are required to restore the tooth position. This is not only costly monetarily, it can do damage to your child’s self esteem.

The adult teeth develop as children are becoming more comfortable with language and social interaction. Speech problems can result from having teeth in the incorrect place. Even after the position of teeth is restored, speech therapy may be required in order to remove these problems. If the problem is noticeable, it can lead to shyness, sometimes chronic shyness and inattentiveness in class.

Though it may seem small in comparison, children who are fervent thumb suckers may develop thick callus’ on their thumbs. Though the risk is small, some children may have a more difficult time holding a pencil as it can be painful. This happens in very few children but the risk does exist.

There are countless websites which write about how to break the thumb sucking habit. Most experts will agree that until the age of five or six, thumb sucking and pacifiers are fine. It is not until the permanent formation of the mouth begins that thumb sucking can be harmful. Dental visits when teeth first develop will give your dentist a chance to stop bad habits before they start.


Thumbsucking topic overview

Oral Health problems with children

How thumb sucking affects teeth alignment

Sucking on pacifier true or false?

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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How to Choose a Dentist

Unless you use the same dentist you used as a child, there will be a point in your life when you will need to pick a new dentist. It may be because of a move or one of 1000 other reasons, but when you change dentists you want to make sure you are getting one that is qualified and professional. Luckily, there are 5 things to look for that will help you narrow down the list, making the process much less complicated.

5. Volunteer work and hobbies: It can be hard to pinpoint this while first looking at a site. Usually an “About page,” like the one at, will list some information about the dentists and what they like to do. A complete profile that lets you get to know the dentists outside the dental chair. Activities that include volunteer work show that the dentist cares about the community and the world. Which is a way better place to give your business to.

4. They have complete and maintained Website: A website that really answers all of your questions is invaluable ( It is important to know what you are getting into with a dentist. They should have definitions and discuss some of the most common ailments and diseases which may impact the mouth. The website should be maintained, new information at least every 30 days. This lets you know that they put effort behind their reputation.

3. Pictures and videos: The more pictures, videos, and tutorials a dentist has on their website, the more confident they are in their work. A dentist who has nothing to hide will not be intimidated when it comes to showing off their work. This is also how you know the legitimacy of their work. Face it, anyone can put anything they want online, a quality and professional dentist will show their work.

2. They offer warranties: It is almost common sense that a dentist who believes in their work and stands behind it will offer a warranty on dental work. Some dentists offer lifetime warranties (obviously these are the best) while other offer less lengthy warranties. If the dentists doesn’t offer a warranty or it is less than five years, just click away.

1. Education: It is true that a dentist needs training. After the DDS, what has come next? A dentist who has gone on to get a specialized degree or has continued training speaks volumes about their goals and why they became a dentist ( A dentist who goes the extra mile to learn more must be passionate about the health of mouths, including yours. When some of this study takes place in other countries, you can be sure that they have the best range of techniques and methods in their repertoire.

When it comes down to the final choice, always use your better judgment. Look for a clean office and a happy staff. All the little things that show that a dentist cares about what they do will set them apart. Then you can feel confident that your visits will go smooth.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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Medieval Dental Tools and Techniques

To this day, there are many people who loathe the thought of going to the dentist. The thought of drills and fillings really stops some people in their tracks. Really though, dentistry has made some amazing advancements. During the Medieval Ages, roughly 500 to 1500 CE, dentistry was much different than it is now. The tools and techniques seem barbaric by today’s standards, but at the time they were the only options.

Back in the Dark Ages, only the wealthy elite knew about the importance of caring for the teeth. Many of them had specialized rinses which kept their teeth white. At the time, dentistry was not a specialty. Surgeries, haircuts and shaves, dentistry, and minor medical treatments were performed by the same person. People had generally good oral health during this time, but that was due to a lack of sugar in the diet and not to good hygiene.

Beginning in the 1400s, and continuing on until the 1600’s, the dental pelican was the primary tooth used for the extraction of teeth. Its name comes from its striking resemblance in shape to the beak of a pelican. They are known to be one of the first tools designed to extract teeth. Teeth were pulled out sideways with this painful looking instrument and damage to the gums could happen as a result.
The Dental Mouth Gag was a crude instrument used to treat lockjaw and situations where the mouth would not open as wide as it should. Relatively simple in design, it had jaws which would be slid in the mouth of the patient. Wingnuts were then tightened causing the jaws of the instrument to open which would open the mouth. This was a very painful process and could cause jaw problems to occur in the future.

Before toothbrushes were invented, the teeth were wiped down with a rough linen cloth. During the time, there were many pastes and powders which could be put on the linen to help clean their teeth and freshen their breaths. Ground sage mixed with salt was one popular concoction which was used. The ingredients varied, but generally there were scented herbs and abrasives in the mix. The exact recipe depended a lot on what was growing in the garden.

Toothaches were one of the most common dental ailments for people in the Medieval Ages. Herbal treatments were designed to provide temporary relief. These were also regional and based on what was growing in an area. Some of the common remedies included; honey, goldenrod, mullein, yarrow, willow bark, and others. Often the area of the affliction would be cauterized, then the herbs would be heated over hot coals and the smoke inhaled.

The use of prayers to saints was another way in which relief from toothaches was found. On her feast day, the 9th of February, St. Apollonia was prayed to and given offerings. This former Goddess was a martyr who had all of her teeth removed. Saints played a key role in all aspects of life and were thought to treat anything from stiff muscles to infertility.

We are lucky to live in an age where old ideas are challenged and questioned and where dentistry does not have to be a scary experience. The quality of work done by dentists today is a far cry from 500 years ago. The impact the health of your mouth has in relation to your body is understood in a new and previously unknown way.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai 2015

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DIY Toothpaste

So much of what we eat, drink, and use on our bodies is full of ingredients which are difficult to pronounce without a PhD. As we (collectively) become more health conscious, we start to pay attention to what is put into our bodies and how certain foods impact us. Still, many ignore the ingredients in toothpaste and use whatever brands that is on sale or that they have always used.

There are several ways to make your own toothpaste at home. These methods are economical and ensure that only all natural ingredients are going into your mouth and the mouths of your family. Most recipes use fluorides, but this is not safe for babies and young children.

Some ingredients in DIY toothpastes are pretty universal: Baking soda contains minerals and removes stains, calcium powder adds calcium and whitens, cloves and cinnamon are both anti-bacterial and add flavor, mint soothes the gums and Xylitol, an optional ingredient, adds sweetness. These are basic staples of many toothpaste recipes. The first recipe uses no fluoride, focuses on re-mineralizing the teeth and only takes 10 minutes to make.

Start by mixing together 5 parts calcium powder, 2 parts baking soda, and 3 parts Xylitol powder for taste (optional). If the calcium powder is coming from tablets, be sure to use a food processor on them first.

You’ll add 3-5 parts coconut oil, one part at a time, until it is the desired thickness. Then, mix in up to one part Diatomaceous earth if you choose to use it. It is slightly abrasive and is not required. Then you can add essential oils to taste if so desired. It can be stored in a glass jar and doled out with an unused popsicle stick.

The next recipe is great for the whole family and super easy to make. All you need to do is mix the following ingredients in a bowl or large mason jar. 4 Tbsp bentonite clay, 3 Tbsp calcium powder, 2 Tbsp powdered mint leaf (for taste), 1 Tbsp baking soda (optional), 1 Tbsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp powdered clove, 1 Tbsp Xylitol powder, and optional essential oils.

Because there are no liquid ingredients it can be stored for years. Each family member can have their own jar and it is less expensive in the long run than buying tubes. This formula will keep your mouth safe from bacterial growth and will naturally whiten.

We live in a time when extra caution needs to be taken when it comes to unknown chemicals going into our bodies. Research is still being done to determine the effects of GMO’s and chemicals on our bodies in the long run. Making your own toothpaste is one more way that you can protect yourself and your family from unseen contagions.

Holistically, it makes sense. Using all natural ingredients is easier on your body because your body does not need to work harder than normal to absorb the nutrients. Once you begin to make your own toothpaste, you will begin to see how easy it is to make not only toothpaste, but shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and much more.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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How Stress Impacts Oral Health

The body may be comprised of separate parts, but all of these parts work as one unit. Your mental and spiritual well being have just as much impact on health as the physical body. Stress is dangerous to all the parts of ourselves. As it flows into the brain, the brain changes the chemicals it secretes. These chemicals then enter the blood stream and spread throughout your organs. It can especially impact your teeth and gums if proper precautions are not taken.

Unfortunately, stress is a part of life. Failure to properly manage stress will manifest, and when it does so in your mouth, the consequences can be disastrous. Depending on your previous oral health, it can even lead to gum loss and dental deterioration.
One of the most common ways in which stress finds an outlet is through teeth grinding. When caused by stress this is known as Bruxism. It may be either conscious or subconscious and it may happen during the day, at night, or some combination of the two. This is a bad habit to pick up. For people who already have a teeth grinding condition, the addition of stress can worsen the grinding into the development of TMJ. The good news is that teeth grinding is treatable and often curable. This may mean a mouth guard at night and becoming more conscious during the day.

Stress makes us more likely to develop canker sores, which are essentially mouth ulcers. Canker sores are produced by biting your cheek, jabbing your gum, and other activities which are traumatic to mouth tissue. These are all more likely to happen when a person is stressed or tense. More testing is being done to discover if canker sores are caused by stress or just increased by the presence of stress. Early tests have shown a lower rate of canker sores among college students when school was on break.

Stress links to other physical ailments and conditions as well. These include chronic dry mouth, burning mouth syndrome, gum disease, and lichen planus. The list goes well beyond the development of physical sores and bleeding. The emotional and mental sides of ourselves also feel the affects of stress.

We each have an energy field. When that energy field gets corrupted, as can happen with high levels of stress, the tense energy flows throughout the body. Remember, all things are matter. On some level, this means our thoughts are matter as well. When people are stressed, it tends to cause negative thought patterns to develop in the mind.

Not to sound cliché, but what we think becomes reality. So, if you start thinking ideas such as “I’ll never get that promotion” or “We can’t afford the house” then it challenges our very sense of self worth. When we start to feel low about our lives or ourselves, we become less likely to brush and floss everyday. This, once again leads to oral hygiene problems.

We must begin to realize that all of our vital systems are one integral part of one another. When you take care of the physical, mental, and spiritual sides of yourself, they will start to work in symbiosis and communicate to keep your body healthy. If one is out of whack, complete health can not be as readily achieved.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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Periodontal Disease Detection

A study conducted in 2012 estimates that 47% of all adults over the age of 30 have some degree of periodontal disease. This can range from mild to serious. Periodontal disease starts with plaque. Plaque comes from the bacteria which resides in our mouths. Bacteria love the mouth because it is wet, warm, and has a food source.

When plaque is not removed from the teeth it hardens and forms tartar which can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning. When plaque stays on the teeth, it becomes slowly more detrimental to the mouth. Eventually this plaque build-up, which is full of bacteria, causes an inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis.

Though gingivitis can be treated and reversed with proper dental care, if it is not treated it will turn into Periodontitis. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets are prone to infections. Since the body is treating the infection with its natural defenses, the connections the teeth have get destroyed. The connective tissues, bones, and gums all get broken down and loose teeth need to be removed.

Of course, anyone who has been diagnosed with gingivitis is at a high risk for developing Periodontal disease, but even without a diagnosis there are warning signs that could indicate periodontitis is present. Having bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth could be an indication that there is an abundance of bacteria building up in the mouth. Bacteria produce endotoxin which is part of their own metabolism. This is the cause of gum inflammation. These pockets full of endotoxin burrow deeper into the gum line and eventually the jaw. If too much of the jaw bone is lost then teeth have no stability and will either be lost or need to be removed.

Changes to the gum line can indicate the presence of periodontal disease. This is especially true if gums are swollen, bright red, purple, tender to the touch or if they recede down making the teeth look longer than normal. Sometimes these symptoms are dramatic and obvious, in milder cases though, they may appear in a less severe manner.

Because the gum line is physically pulling away from the teeth, new spaces and gaps may appear in between existing teeth. This is usually accompanied by loose teeth, a change to the bite pattern or the way teeth fit together. When the area is infected there will often be a pus build up between the teeth or between the gums and teeth.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that these symptoms will go away on their own. If left untreated, tooth loss and other serious symptoms can occur at an alarming rate. Aside from having gingivitis, periodontitis has other risk factors. Poor oral hygiene, a hereditary predisposition, diabetes, tobacco use, medications, substance abuse, hormonal changes, and poor fitting restorations can all increase a persons odds of getting periodontal disease. Do not take chances with your teeth. If you have any risk factors and/or symptoms of periodontal disease, see your dentist, sooner rather than later.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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Experimental Dental Procedures

We live in a world where new breakthroughs in technology, medicine, and dentistry are being made everyday. One hundred years ago, the world of dentistry was very limited. Teeth were either pulled or filled with toxic substances. A formula has not yet been devised which will regrow teeth, but there are advancements which can fix almost any smile. Some of these procedures have not been perfected yet, but the possibilities are definitely exciting.

The process of installing zygomatic implant may prove an option for those who want implants, but have insufficient jawbone structure to support them. These implants would be installed into the cheek bone. This procedure was first done by Dr. Maria Papageorge and was made possible through a grant from Tufts University.

The studies need to be continued to determine the longevity of the implants, but the university is offering it to a select few patients for roughly $11,000. This is less than 25% of the tradition $45,000 price tag which comes with implants. It is too early to say if this will become a less expensive solution for tooth loss. But, since it requires fewer connection, this may become the case.

Dentistry is usually associated with the painful and loud sound of dental drill. A new technique called Air Abrasion may change that. Instead of using a metal drill, a stream of particles is aimed at the decaying area of a tooth. In this particle mixture is aluminum oxide, baking soda, and silica, these are run through a blast of air which exits out of the hand piece.

The Air Abrasion technique is a lot quieter than a drill and does not produce pressure or vibration. It can still cause pain though, especially in patients who are sensitive to pressure. This technique reduces the amount of anesthesia needed for shallow cavities. The metal drill will still have its place because fittings for crowns can not be prepared using air abrasion. It also cannot be used for root canals. Some dentists ultimately believe that the use of air abrasion will reduce the risk of chipping and dental fractures as well.

Think about the countless times that the use of anesthesia has left you numb for hours afterwards. It is awkward to eat and drink until that numbness goes away. In fact, in some cases it can take up to five hours for the effects to be completely gone. A new medication called OraVerse reverses the effects of the anesthesia and can take the time for the numbness to wear off down to about an hour.

This is great news for those who scheduled dental visits before picking kids up from school, between errands, or any other time when full oral function will be necessary. The phentolamine which is in OraVerse works by opening up blood vessels to restore blood flow to the mouth. The medication is injected immediately after the procedure is over. Since the numbness in effect, there is no need to be concerned over pain.

All of these techniques have the potential to change how we think about modern dentistry. Making it more convenient and less painful should encourage more people to tend to their teeth properly and no longer fear those dental check ups.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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Oral Hygiene Tips for Camping

The return of the summer months brings about camping, amusement parks, and vacations. It also brings with it a plethora of ice cream, s’mores, and sweet summer treats. Going on vacation does not mean that oral health goes on vacation too. Simple steps can be taken to ensure that you and your family are all tending to your teeth.

While thinking of snacks for the family, thing not only healthy, but healthy and crunchy. Carrot and celery sticks are not only full of vitamins, but their texture simulates a brushing motion when they are chewed. Juices are a good choice to wash those down, but only those that have no added sugar. Keep in mind that many rest areas and gas stations have little that passes for healthy. By having snacks prepared and ready in a cooler, not only do healthy snacks stay an option, but it will save on travel expenses.
On extra-long trips, anything where the family will be stuck in a car for a couple days, it is wise to have scheduled brushing breaks. So, every time you pull over to stretch your legs or use a restroom, pull out the brushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Think about how morning breath develops… a warm, wet mouth which is a breeding ground for bacteria. The same thing happens in the car. Especially when snacks and beverages are used to help tame restless children.

Get a dental checkup before the trip. Even if it is a week or two before the trip, it gives you a chance to get a full cleaning and treat any unexpected dental problems. Getting one for every family member can help you have a trip which is safe from those tooth pains and more fun for everyone.
There are special toothbrushes which are designed for camping. They have a plastic lid and are available in many colors. Even better, they each come with a tube of paste. Because they are color coded, each family member will know which one is theirs. The lid keeps dirt and bacteria off of the brush and the family toothbrushes can be left at home where they won’t get lost or dirty. Some even have a hole for a clip. Most are available for a buck or two.
While you are away, assume it will not be easy to find a dentist if an emergency occurred. This means you should avoid opening packages with your teeth or crunching ice. These are bad practices anyway, but on vacation they can open you up to a whole world of pain. So avoid these at all costs.

Do not vacation on the health of your mouth. Unlike sharks, we only get one row of teeth. Once the adult teeth are gone, they are gone for good. When in doubt, brush, rinse, and/or floss and have your family do the same. This will keep teeth healthy, now and in the future, which means you will be free to enjoy all the road trips to come.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai

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