Your Dental Office News, January 31, 2022: Happy 2022! – Building Good Habits – It’s Winter – Recipe!
We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and is coming into 2022 with good spirits and good health. As you implement your 2022 resolutions, don’t forget to include making time with your dentist to stay on top of your dental and overall health!
In This Issue:
- Healthy Habits, Healthy Mouth
- Patients with Special Needs: We wish we could do more, sooner
- Omicron variant: Is it safe to come to the dental office?
- Inclement Weather Policy
- Cold and Flu Season: 5 Ways to Care for Your Mouth When You’re Sick
- Honoring Our Team Members
- Recipe of the Month
HEALTHY HABITS, HEALTHY MOUTH
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Making the resolution is just the start. The key to making them happen is to figure out what to do on a daily basis in order to reach your goals. That means, to build daily habits. If you’d like to make a habit of flossing, or learn how to develop other habits that you find difficult to implement, check out the book Atomic Habits (https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits) by James Clear, or Tiny Habits (https://tinyhabits.com/), by BJ Fogg. WARNING: These books may truly change your life.
Meanwhile, please consider the following habits that will help you keep your mouth healthy and your smile beautiful.
1. Floss Every Day
There’s always a good excuse not to floss, such as you’re tired or that flossing is annoying (and we agree with that). However, if you develop the flossing habit this year, you can significantly reduce two risks: 1) gum disease and 2) tooth decay between your teeth in places where the toothbrush can’t reach. Plus, your breath will be fresher, and you won’t have to pay for more expensive dental treatment moving forward!
2. Brush the Full 2 Minutes
The best way to remove biofilm from your teeth is with friction, which is why the hygienist polishes your teeth at the end of your cleaning. At home, brushing all your teeth surfaces for a total of two minutes twice a day is the way to keep biofilm in check, which keeps plaque in check, which prevents cavities and gum disease. Studies have shown that most Americans actually brush way less than one minute!
To make sure you’re brushing long enough, you can use a timer, or an electric toothbrush with a built-in timer. If you don’t like these options, try singing or playing a timing song. The Jeopardy! Theme (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wi8Fv0AJA4) is a good choice–it’s 30 seconds long. Or, you can pick 30-second stock audio clips to brush by (https://www.123rf.com/stock-audio/30_seconds.html). Dedicate 30 seconds to brushing each quadrant in your mouth.
3. More Water, Less Soda / Acidic Drinks
Acidic drinks such as sodas and sports drinks are the worst beverages for your mouth, because they weaken the tooth enamel. Consider reducing the amount you consume, and follow up with a drink of water to help rinse the acid from your teeth. This table (https://drinksdestroyteeth.org/the-unsweetened-truth/) lists different drinks and also the amount of sugar they carry. As a reference, black coffee’s pH is around 5. Stay as close to neutral (pH=7) as much as possible!
Another good reason to sip water often is to keep yourself hydrated and your mouth moist. When your mouth dries out, it means that there isn’t enough saliva to consistently wash away bacteria from your teeth, which can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease.
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking is one of the most dangerous habits for the health of your mouth (and for your health in general). Smoking increases your risk of gum disease and tooth loss. It even makes it harder to get your teeth replaced with dental implants. This is one of the hardest resolutions to keep, but it’s also one of the most beneficial. Your wallet will thank you too.
5. Cut Down on Staining Foods
If you don’t like the appearance of your stained teeth, teeth whitening can help. However, the results don’t last too long if you’re consuming a lot of staining foods and beverages. Some of the worst culprits are chocolate, coffee, tea, dark soda, red wine, dark beer, and berries. Some of these foods are nutritious or addictive, and it’s hard to cut them out, but just a little bit of reduction can make a difference. Still can’t do it? Try to use a straw when drinking cold beverages that stain teeth, and if you want to save money and reduce plastic waste, consider buying a reusable straw.
6. Cut Down on Snacking
Want a way to lose weight and protect your teeth? Cutting down on snacking will protect both your teeth and your waistline. Snacking between meals gives oral bacteria additional fuel to turn into acid (which attacks your teeth, see #3 above) and to increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth. In particular, reduce the amount of sugar and sweet snacks you consume.
7. Visit the Dentist Regularly
Last but not least, keep your mouth and smile healthy by visiting your dentist twice a year (or as many times as recommended by your dentist or periodontist). If you haven’t been coming in for your regular dental checkups and cleanings, there’s no better time than now to start. If it’s been several years since you saw a dentist, don’t put it off any longer. If it’s anxiety that’s keeping you away, let us know – sedation dentistry can help you overcome your fear of the dentist.
PATIENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS: WE WISH WE COULD DO MORE, SOONER
Dr. Harvey Levy has dedicated his professional career to serving patients with special needs, both as a clinician and as a teacher of other dentists. Our practice attracts team members who are equally dedicated and who deeply care about serving this patient population to the very best of their ability.
It is extremely frustrating to us that we are unable to schedule our patients with special needs as we did prior to COVID-19. The reasons for our frustration are discussed often in the media: fewer trained medical staff are able to work as much as they did prior to the pandemic. It breaks our hearts that we’re unable to take more patients to the operating room to receive treatments that otherwise cannot be provided at our dental office.
We’re also aware that it’s extremely frustrating to those who care for patients with special needs to have to wait so long for an appointment, or not to get diagnosed treatments scheduled in the O.R.
In the office, one patient with special needs requires between 3 and 7 clinicians to remain in the treatment room, as compared to patients who are treated only by one hygienist, or one doctor and an assistant. We have been trying to hire additional certified dental assistants for over a year now, and have not been successful.
Local hospitals have been forced to implement crisis protocols which preclude them from scheduling elective surgeries, which includes dental treatments. More seriously, they too are short-staffed: hospitals that usually function with 14 operating rooms have reduced availability to only four.
It is our hope that in the upcoming months our access to operating rooms at both Frederick Health Hospital and Meritus Medical Center will be restored to our prior block times. If a patient with special needs under your care experiences a dental emergency, please call us and we will do the best we can to attend to their urgent care.
Within the next few weeks, we will be reaching out to patients who are on our O.R. waiting list to provide you with an update. WE DID NOT FORGET ABOUT YOU.
OMICRON VARIANT: IS IT SAFE TO COME INTO THE DENTAL OFFICE?
Yes, it is safe and important for your overall health that you continue to come in for routine exams, dental cleanings, and dental treatment. We continue to practice our stringent COVID-19 protocols before, during, and after your appointment, which we’ve had in place since we re-opened in June 2020. Our protocols include:
- Masks required by all who enter the office
- Patient and team member prescreening and temperature checks.
- Appointments are rescheduled for any patient that has cold or flu symptoms.
- Team members stay home when they are not feeling well and take a COVID test before returning to work.
- Our waiting room is not currently in use. Patients call from the parking lot when they arrive for appointments.
- One-way flow throughout the office to promote social distancing.
- Routine cleaning of common areas
- Fogging operatories and hallways with hypochlorous acid to reduce aerosols in the air
- Special air filters that eliminate viruses in the air ducts
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please visit our COVID Safety webpage on our website or call the office at 301-663-8300. Our team is happy to accommodate your needs to ensure you feel comfortable during your appointment.
Inclement Weather Policy – Delayed Opening/Closures
The temperatures have dropped and we’ve seen some snow. Should you have an appointment scheduled when inclement weather occurs, here is our policy.
- If the office will be closed or we delay our opening time, we will do our best to contact all scheduled patients who will be affected.
- We will also update our voicemail message and make a post on Facebook to relay any schedule changes.
- If you are unsure whether or not we are open, please give us a call!
- If we are open, but you feel unsafe to drive, we will be happy to reschedule your appointment.
Your and our team members’ safety is our top priority!
COLD AND FLU SEASON: 5 WAYS TO CARE FOR YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU’RE SICK
When he’s feeling under the weather, ADA dentist Dr. Gene Romo says one thing always helps him feel a little more like himself. “Brushing my teeth when I’m sick actually makes me feel better,” he says. “My mouth feels clean, and in a way, I feel like my health is starting to improve.”
When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority—and that includes your mouth. “It’s important to take care of your dental health all year round, but especially when you’re sick,” Dr. Romo says.
Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well:
Practice Good Hygiene
When you’re sick, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.
According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. “The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime, but especially when you are sick,” Dr. Romo says.
You also probably don’t need to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Unless your immune system is severely compromised, the chances of reinfecting yourself are very low. “But if you’re still in doubt, throw it out,” says Dr. Romo. “Especially if you’ve had your toothbrush for 3-4 months, when it’s time to replace it anyway.”
Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops
Read the label before you pick up a product at the drugstore, and avoid ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. “Many cough drops contain sugar, and it is like sucking on candy,” says Dr. Romo. “Sugar is a culprit when it comes to cavities.” The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria have to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can leave holes in your teeth.
Swish and Spit After Vomiting
One unfortunate side effect of the illnesses currently among us is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but Dr. Romo says it’s actually better to wait. “When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them,” he says. “If you brush too soon, you’re just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth.”
Instead, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda to help wash the acid away. Spit, and brush about 30 minutes later.
Stay Hydrated to Avoid Dry Mouth
When you’re sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable—dry mouth can also put you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for a cold or flu—such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers—can also dry out your mouth, so drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.
Choose the Right Fluids
When it comes to your mouth and your body, one beverage is always best. “The safest thing to drink is water,” Dr. Romo says. “Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re sick, but drink them in moderation and don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered because unless they are a sugar free version, they contain a lot of sugar.” (And even sugar-free versions are still acidic, see item 3 of Healthy Habits, Healthy Mouth, above.)
You might also want something to warm you up. “When you have a cold or the flu, you may want something comforting to get through it, like tea,” he says. “Try not to add sugar or lemon if you can avoid it. Sugar can help to fuel cavity-causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. It’s something to keep in mind once you’re feeling 100% again, as well.”
HONORING OUR TEAM MEMBERS
To learn more about our team members, visit Our Team page on our website.
MVP – Rodney
Every month we recognize a team member who has gone above and beyond for our patients or other team members.
In December we recognized Rodney, who has been with our practice for twenty years! A skilled dental assistant and lab technician, he maintains equipment that our patients don’t know about, such as compressors and water lines, and ensures that our foggers are filled with the concentration of HOCl indicated to neutralize any SARS-CoV-2 virus in aerosols. He’s also the one we all go to when we need a McGyver solution to a problem. We appreciate Rodney for doing all of that, but especially for being a kind-natured and good hearted team player who loves to make us laugh!
We are proud of our outstanding team of professionals, many of whom have been with Dr. Harvey Levy & Associates for several years. Nobody in our team has a December work anniversary, so we recognized ALL our team members. For many months all our teams have been short-handed – last year we lost a full-time dental assistant/front desk coordinator who relocated to Michigan, a full-time dentist who began a graduate program in dental public health, and a full-time hygienist who found work closer to her home in Allegany County. Everyone in our team has gone beyond the extra mile, picking up the slack whenever another team member was unable to work, or doing what was necessary when a patient required attention beyond their normal work hours. One thing we know for sure is that we have the very best dental team in Frederick, and we’re grateful to those patients who have graciously dealt with appointment rescheduling and delays beyond our control.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
- 1 lb Ground beef, lean 90/10 (this is important so that you don’t have any fat to drain)
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 cup Onion, diced
- 1 Red bell pepper, diced
- 1 Green bell pepper, diced
- 1 Jalapeño, seeds and white ribs removed, minced about 2 tbsp
- 4 cups Chicken stock
- 1 (14 oz) can Tomato sauce
- 2 (14 oz) cans Fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 tbsp Brown sugar
- 2 tsp Salt
- 3 tbsp Taco seasoning
- 2 cups Cooked long grain rice (1 cup raw)
- 2 cups Pepper jack cheese, shredded, optional
- Cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven set over medium high heat.
- Add the beef, onion, bell peppers and jalapeño. Cook until beef is fully browned and there are no longer any pink left, about 8 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, brown sugar, salt, taco seasoning and rice to the pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring often so rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, until the soup is nice and thick.
- Serve in individual bowls topped with shredded pepper jack cheese.
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Be safe, stay well, be well. We wish you a healthy, happy, and amazing 2022!
Dr Harvey Levy and AssociatesBack to Newsletter