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HEALTH WATCH : Nostalgia of the Nose Is Nothing to Sniff At

<i> Compiled from wire-service reports</i>

What’s in a smell?

Nostalgia, says Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago, a clinic that conducts surveys on how smells affect our emotional and physical responses.

In his studies, Hirsch has found that the nostalgia evoked by certain scents often is shared by people in the same age range.

People born in the 1920s, for example, experience fond memories when exposed to nature scents, such as grass, roses and pine. For people born in the 1950s, crayons and Play-Doh are two of the smells that trigger happy memories and feelings.

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The most common odor known to stimulate pleasant memories is that of baked goods. The old trick of baking bread if you’re trying to sell your house has it roots in the notion that most people are warmed by the thought of fresh pastries or bread.

Most home fragrances also try to trigger our nostalgic feelings.

Marketers such as Origins cosmetics are trying to convince consumers, for example, that their spirits may be heightened by lighting a candle that smells of clean sheets, as one of its newest fragrances does. Or that a bath gel like Wake Up from Aromafloria will leave them feeling uplifted.

Crabtree & Evelyn believes that their enduring appeal is their ability to mentally transport people to another place with just a squirt.

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Brighten Your Bite: You’ve been doing it for years. But dental experts say most people are clueless when it comes to properly brushing teeth. How you brush, they say, is more important than what you brush with if you want to prevent cavities and gum disease.

Here is the most common technique taught today.

* Place bristles along the gum line at a 45-degree angle. Bristles should contact both the tooth and gum line. Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces, two to three teeth at a time by vibrating back and forth, then rolling the brush down or up.

* Place bristles at gum line on the inside of teeth at a 45-degree angle. Gently brush using back and forth, rolling motion on all inner tooth surfaces.

* Tilt brush vertically behind the front teeth. Stroke up and down several times using the front half of the brush.

* Place the brush against the biting surface of the teeth and scrub gently with a back-and-forth motion. Brush the tongue from back to front to remove bacteria.

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Free Will: If you’re like most Americans (according to a recent poll), you support the concept of living wills, but you don’t have one.

These wills, which enable someone else to make health-care decisions in the event that the patient is unable to communicate, are not complicated and do not require a lawyer. But the forms vary from state to state and must conform with state law.

For free, state-specific forms, write to Choice in Dying, 200 Varick St., New York, N.Y. 10014-4810. Or call: (800) 989-WILL, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday-Friday.


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