Understanding the Hygienist’s Expertise

November 30, 2018 Mary Osborne RDH

It’s important to consider your hygienists as autonomous skilled professionals independent from your management. Of course, as the leader you must provide guidance, but you should still defer to their training in their specific field.

A Hygienist’s Expertise

This is one of the hardest parts about managing a team – letting go of the reigns a little. But you don’t have to entertain a free for all to provide some freedom. If a hygienist has made it clear to you that they have both clinical and behavioral skills, then it’s your job to open up a dialogue.

You should discuss with them what you will individually bring to an exam. Find out what they feel comfortable recognizing and diagnosing, that way you can both be on the same page. Don’t rely on the antiquated belief that hygienists only know how to recognize. They are also fully capable of diagnostic techniques.

In hygiene school, they will have thoroughly reviewed the signs and symptoms of multiple conditions. But for them, their education tends toward directing them to call the problem to the dentist’s attention.

The key to all of this is to only offer advice in your area of expertise. That goes for both hygienists and dentists. As with most things, individuals vary. Dentists and hygienists will have different qualifications, therefore providing different perspectives in the practice. No matter our level, we must offer our opinions as opinions and be willing to listen to the thoughts of others.

Diagnosing versus recognizing comes down to semantics, while both are very different from the actual treatment planning designed by the clinician. It’s a hygienist’s responsibility to serve the patient’s needs to the best of their ability based on their skill level and judgement.

What do you consider a hygienist’s purview in the dental practice? We’d like to know what you think! 

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DATE: June 2 2025 @ 8:00 am - June 5 2025 @ 2:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 27

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Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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How to Support Your New Hygienists

November 28, 2018 Mary Osborne RDH

Hygienists make up a huge component of a dental practice’s atmosphere and productivity. You should be devoting plenty of time to understanding their motivations as well as your own. Even better, you should actively consider how best to support them.

Supporting New Hygienists

One obvious instance of support a dentist can provide occurs with the dental hygienist who is fresh out of school. Hiring someone new to the field confers pros and cons. The biggest upside is that you can mold them to your preferences. But in that upside lies a heavy burden: You must be willing to guide their learning and influence their patient care.

A hygienist who is very new to either your practice or dentistry itself needs plenty of time to become oriented. You can support them by seeing all of their patients for a while and completing an extremely thorough exam. This will ensure both the hygienist and patient get the most out of the experience.

Take steps like:

  1. Ensure all deposits that can be removed are removed.
  2. Observe the gingiva and determine if prophylaxis has caused as little trauma as possible.
  3. Measure pocket depths to calibrate the hygienists readings to yours.
  4. Look closely for decay and provide an opportunity for the hygienist to feel the signs of disease that you do.
  5. Check for wear or breakdown and teach both patient and hygienist how to see it.
  6. Carry out an oral cancer exam and clarify what is cause for concern.
  7. Point out what draws your attention on an x-ray.
  8. Finally, make any diagnostics you offer into a learning experience for both the patient and the hygienist.

Once you feel comfortable that your hygienist is appropriately skilled, you must open lines of communication surrounding who handles what responsibilities.

How do you bring new hygienists into your practice culture? Please let me know! 

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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Where Hygienists Fit In

November 26, 2018 Mary Osborne RDH

How you help patients become healthier in your practice is a big question. That’s even more true when the role of your hygienists is unclear. The best method of serving patients well can become hazy due to procedural problems that have nothing much to do with care.

Hygienists in the Dental Practice

For example, there is some confusion over the relationship between the insurance company, dentist, and hygienist. Essentially, what level of care are hygienists allowed to handle and why? This brings up multiple concerns such as their ability to diagnose, who the patient wants to hear recommendations from, and how a periodic exam is charged.

The only way to figure out the right answers to these areas of interest is to take a hard look at your individual dental practice. There is no one perfect solution, no size fits all. You have to decide what is appropriate based on your relationship to hygienists on your team as well as their skill and knowledge levels.

Who Does What?

Clarity is a great motivator. When people understand their purpose, they are better able to carry it out well. The only way you can have clarity around the role of hygienists that will then seep over to them is to separate the expectations you feel bound by from what you actually think is best.

Taking the time to consider the big picture of your practice can go a long way. You can only maximize all the personnel resources at your disposal, including a hygienist’s communication skills, technical knowledge, personal perspective, and time, if you know why you’ve hired them in the first place.

First, determine where a hygienist’s value fits into your practice. What clinical service is your best and what behavioral service is your best? Most importantly: Who provides these services and why?

Where do hygienists fit into your dental practice? Give me a shout in the comments below!

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DATE: October 25 2024 @ 8:00 am - October 26 2024 @ 4:00 pm

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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The Last Frontier of Trust

November 23, 2018 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

How can a patient trust you, if you don’t even trust yourself? Let’s dive in:

Trusting Yourself

The last frontier of trust is trusting yourself. Most people would say that trusting themselves is by far the most difficult.

When you have decided to place your trust in another person, you have surrendered some control to them that you previously held. When you decide to trust yourself, who or what are you giving up control to?

The answer, in my view, is a four letter word called ‘fear.’ Nothing gets in the way of human progress and performance more than fear. Often our fear is grounded in the inaccurate internal assumptions we use to organize our identity, define how we see ourself, and define our relationship with the world.

When fear dominates our inner world, meaning, happiness, achievement, and our relationships suffer.

Performance and Attention

In pursuit of high achievement, ancient philosophers, theologians, and modern brain science all agree: “We become what we give our attention to.” Our first option is simply to give our attention to the fear that lives within us and the possibility and consequences of failing.

It often sounds like this: “What will happen….What does it mean…How bad will it hurt…What will people think…If I fail.” It is uncertain, unknown, improbable, and anxious. The other option is to create all of the certainty that I can and attack the fear head on.

In this approach, I study my performance as much as possible in order to learn. I structure a plan and rehearse every sequence. I practice this plan for as many hours as needed. I identify and create solutions for each potential problem in advance.

I create a very clear picture of the final result that captures my attention and focuses my energy and creativity. By spending the time and energy in advance to prepare myself, I have created all the certainty for success that I can.

At that point, it is all about trust. Trusting in my preparation to create certainty. The certainty of success.

The white hot center of human performance is trust. There is no substitute for a deeply held trust in yourself. As Covey said, that kind of trust changes everything!

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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Fun on the Miami River

November 22, 2018 Pankey Gram

When you visit Miami, don’t just check out the common sights. A short drive from Key Biscayne is the big city, with plenty to do, see, and explore. One of our favorite lesser-known spots is the Miami River. Beloved by locals, it’s worth visiting for some water-oriented fun.

Miami River: Why Go?

A course at Pankey is an opportunity to learn and experience something unique. That extends to what you do in your free time as well.

The Miami River is a six-mile waterway with boating and views of the impressive Miami shoreline. It is entertaining a fabulous rebirth that provides ample attractions to the curious tourist.

Multi-million dollar developments going up in the area have inspired growth and some of the hottest Miami restaurants. It’s also just plain old beautiful looking at the high rises, gorgeous homes, and marinas dotting the view.

Best Sightseeing, Food, and Fun

The best way to appreciate the Miami River is by getting out on the water, instead of observing it from afar. Interestingly, the river is still a cargo passageway, with many container ships easily navigating the booming trade path. Get a look at the river up close by chartering a small, private cruise along the river. This company also has an option for chartering.

Our favorite place to eat overlooking the Miami River has to be Seaspice, a brasserie and lounge with a garden. Watch the sunset over the river after a long day out in the warmth. Cool down with a handcrafted Blossom Martini and sample their delightful wagyu dumplings.

Walk off your amazing meal along the riverfront to take in more of the lush, green blend of cityscape and natural environment. If you’re beat from the long day, you could also take a segway.

If you visit the Miami River, let us know below! We’d also love your tips on what else the Pankey community should do in Miami …

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Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

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Case Study: Great Patient Expectations

November 20, 2018 Kelley Brummett DMD

Every successful dental case begins with a conversation. 

A Case of Great Dental Expectations

“So what should we do next?” my patient asked. I rolled my chair beside him, excited about the challenge of achieving his preferred future.

I looked him in the eye. “Do you really want to know?”

“Yes!” he said.

I responded, “I don’t know right at this moment. However, may I take some models, photographs, and study your mouth? Taking time to study your mouth with this information will allow me to develop viable options for you to decide what you would like to do next.”

This conversation came after my patient lost #12 and had an implant placed. He had never asked this question before and his past dental history was single tooth dentistry.

Once the records were gathered, I spent some time in my office lab opening up his vertical according to the principles that Mike Fling teaches in his worn dentition course as well as the Pankey restorative footprint and clinical sequence taught in our Essentials 3 curriculum.

From my patient’s diagnosis, I discovered that he had two options: ortho plus restorative treatment or restorative treatment without ortho. Space was needed and form and function would definitely improve with improved space. We met for a conversation.

We looked at photos and models, then discussed the options. He explained to me that he would prefer to do the restorative plan without the orthodontics. My team and I invited him to experience a mock-up of the potential outcome from a wax-up by our own John Lavicka of Dental Ceramics. The patient immediately replied, “Let’s do it!”

Even though the patient understood why I wanted to do the orthodontics, he wanted to attempt treatment without it. I was happy to move forward with a restorative-only treatment with one agreement: If it did not work, I could initiate orthodontics. He agreed.

To be continued …

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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Local SEO Domination for Dentists

November 15, 2018 Daniel Balaze

In my last post on SEO and Google, we talked about the first two steps to get found online by the people who need you most – those in your community. We went over the age, authority, and quality of your website. Not to mention the importance of staking your claim in all of the directories.

At this point, you’ve got a secure, responsive website and hundreds of citations of extremely consistent NAP data. Now what?

With the first two steps completed, search engines need proof that you exist and that you’re worth recommending to their users. How does this happen?

Local SEO Domination in Dentistry

Step 3: Social Engagement and Reviews

Consistency in social media is key. If you’re never going to tweet, don’t get a twitter account. You need to be active where your patients are active. For most of us, that’s going to be Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Yelp.

Pediatric and orthodontic offices should strongly consider putting content out on Musical.ly and Snapchat.  Twitter and LinkedIn are wonderful for connecting with other professionals. Participate in conversations on social media and search engines will know you’re a real live business.

They don’t, however, have any idea how good you are until you get reviews. Again, consistency is key. Don’t get too hung up on volume.

A consistent stream of reviews, as little as one per week, will do better than a brief campaign that produces the same end volume in a month’s time and quits. Native reviews direct to sites like Google, Yelp, etc. have more weight than those acquired by aggregation software like DemandForce, SolutionReach, or RateABiz.

Also, because of geo-location enabled devices, you can look forward to reviews written away from the office being ranked higher. Ask for them consistently, especially when a patient offers a compliment, and you will see results.

Step 4: Go Forth and Create!

The last step is simple but probably the hardest. Be active!

Build your library of content, whether it’s in the form of blog posts, podcasts, or vlogs. Steady streams of updates send the signal that you are a living breathing organization that deserves to be noticed and recommended.

Always keep the subject focused on what benefits your patients experience. I like to divide my content in equal parts – personal interests, professional interests, office updates, industry updates, and local news. This simple post I wrote in 2017 on conservative dental therapies gets as many views as our “about us” page.

Now go and share with the world how awesome you are and crush the competition while doing it!

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Daniel Balaze

Proud to be an alumnus of both the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Cleveland Institute of Music, I was fortunate to perform in many of the great venues in the Greater Cleveland Area. Both as an orchestral bass player, as well as in jazz ensembles and musical theater productions. These days, I focus on creating occlusal and esthetic harmonies. After earning my dental degree from the Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine, I completed the entire curriculum at the L.D. Pankey Institue, and earned the honor of Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry. Currently a Restorative Dentist in Laguna Niguel, California, I am grateful to be practicing alongside my mentor and friend, Dr. Bill Gregg. Click here to learn more about ethical marketing in dentistry.

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Google and SEO for Dentists

November 13, 2018 Daniel Balaze

Gone are the days of feeling good that everyone in your community can find you because you paid a single fee for an ad in the yellow pages.  

Today, you need your dental practice to be visible when people in your area are looking for services like yours. More and more people are using their phones and computers to do this.

The most important change is location specific search results. Your future new patients are looking for a dentist on their mobile devices using Google as their search engine. And – based on where they are physically located at that time, Google will provide the best, most trusted results for their query. That’s right – you will get different results from the exact same search phrase depending on your location.

By understanding these facts, you as a small business owner can leverage your uniqueness in a powerful way. All it takes is four simple steps:

SEO Optimization and Google in Dentistry

Step 1: First and Foremost – Your Website

The first step in improving your local SEO [search engine optimization] has to do with the age, authority, and quality of your website. The longer your website is active, the more trustworthy you become.

Changing domains is a big deal and if you choose a new one, you are essentially starting a new business and developing a new reputation at that point. You can increase the authority of your website by publishing compelling content on a consistent basis.

Make certain your website is usable across all devices and platforms and make sure it is secure. Google’s Chrome browser often won’t display websites without a security certificate.  Do you think their search engine would rank secure sites higher than those that aren’t secure?

Step 2: Claim Your Name

The next step in building trust online is claiming your profiles. The latest recommendation is that you use your email associated with your domain when you do this. Most directories are going to ask for your NAP [Name Address Phone] and website data, your business category, a short description, a more lengthy description, business hours, amenities, accessibility, payment methods, and photos.

My advice is to compile this information first, so that the process is as simple as copy and paste. It is vital that everything is formatted identically within the NAP data across all the directories. Lastly, start with the biggest directories first – Google+, Facebook, MapQuest, Acxiom, Yelp, etc. The smaller directories are carrying less weight than they used to.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the last two steps to local SEO domination.

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DATE: June 3 2024 @ 8:00 am - June 6 2024 @ 2:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 27

Regular Tuition: $ 8500

Night with private bath: $ 290

Master Your Skills Masters’ Week is a unique learning experience each and every year where we bring together a group of talented speakers to share on a range of topics….

Learn More>

About Author

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Daniel Balaze

Proud to be an alumnus of both the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Cleveland Institute of Music, I was fortunate to perform in many of the great venues in the Greater Cleveland Area. Both as an orchestral bass player, as well as in jazz ensembles and musical theater productions. These days, I focus on creating occlusal and esthetic harmonies. After earning my dental degree from the Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine, I completed the entire curriculum at the L.D. Pankey Institue, and earned the honor of Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry. Currently a Restorative Dentist in Laguna Niguel, California, I am grateful to be practicing alongside my mentor and friend, Dr. Bill Gregg. Click here to learn more about ethical marketing in dentistry.

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Trust in Relationship-Based Practices

November 9, 2018 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

What is trust and why does it matter in the relationship-based practice? 

Writer and public speaker Steven M. R. Covey says that trust is the one thing that changes everything. Trust lives at the intersection of competence and character. In other words, great skills alone are not enough because you might use them to benefit yourself and not your patient/client.

Trust in Relationships

Character alone is not enough because you might not be able to deliver great clinical results. When character and competence are both present, then what is possible within that professional relationship becomes different.

A strategy to establish and build high trust working relationships in a professional practice is equally as essential as developing high clinical competency. In fact, they are synergistic and will provide energy for one another.

Trust then is not just a philosophical construct. It is not just a means to bring your personal mission to life. It is also a critical business strategy in building a relationship-based professional practice. This is the face of the trust that lives between a dentist and their patient.

Strong Leadership

Much research has shown observable trust to be the number one factor in a patient’s decision to trust the practice as a whole and the dentist in particular. This is simply a measurable function of leadership and the culture that results when great leaders are at their best.

A high performing leader will have strong relating competencies, high integrity, courageous authenticity, self-awareness, and a focus on achievement. These competencies will attract like-minded team members, establishing a culture of respect, appreciation, accountability, and trust.

When this happens, trust will flow in both directions and be visible and experienced by all. This entire process is nonlinear. It is very interdependent and, by necessity, simultaneous. Much like each biochemical system in a cell is necessary for proper cellular function, each complex biochemical unit is also necessary for the other systems to form in the first place. Together, they ensure the entire cell functions properly.

Similarly, while the dynamics of respect, trust, appreciation, and accountability are essential ingredients to establish a healthy practice culture, they also rely on one another to sustain a successful system. They are necessary for the entire practice to function at its best.

Check out this article for quick and easy body language tips that develop trust! What’s your take on this oft-debated topic? 

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DATE: November 1 2024 @ 8:00 am - November 2 2024 @ 2:30 pm

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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Perio Screening vs Assessment

November 7, 2018 Pankey Gram

Time is a major priority in the thriving dental practice. Balancing the need for comprehensive care with the efficiency necessary to get everything done in a day is a serious challenge. When it comes to periodontal assessments, the numbers today shockingly still show that a majority of offices are not routinely completing a perio exam.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

Implement a Quick Perio Screening

Consider making your life a lot easier while still improving patient care by offering periodontal screenings. An efficient screening that divides the mouth into scored sextants shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

Your hygienists will appreciate the opportunity to show off their probing skills. They will be able to help patients recognize the signs of gingivitis and periodontal inflammation that may have gone unnoticed otherwise. If the patient scores high enough, then that will necessitate a full-mouth periodontal exam that includes full mouth probing furcation scoring and measuring muco-gingival attachment loss and recession.

This simple addition can lead to more dentistry in your practice and therefore higher production. That’s a boon for both patients and dentists, as the former improves their health and the latter is able to offer more complex treatment.

Periodontal disease is a sneaky, pervasive issue that can be detrimental to a patient’s entire health. Systemic diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes have been associated with periodontitis. Gingivitis, while reversible, can still be exceedingly unpleasant and eventually lead to worsening periodontal health.

The way your hygienist educates patients about periodontal disease contributes to how patients understand the screening’s purpose. The hygienist must make it clear that you are checking for gingivitis and periodontitis because they can lead to pain and tooth loss. This would require much more invasive care in the long run.

Get our take on dental esthetics by reading this awesome Pankey blog here. Do you carry out perio screenings in your practice? We’re dying to know more, don’t be a stranger!

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