Your Dental Office News, September 18, 2021: Best of the Best, Gum disease, Patient paperwork

Fall is just around the corner and many of us are ready for pumpkin spice lattes, comfy sweaters, and soup season! We hope that everyone continues to remain healthy and that you make time to come to our office for your dental cleaning and check-up.

In This Issue:

  • Frederick’s Best of the Best contest – Thank you for the nomination!
  • Why you don’t want to have gum disease
  • Patient paperwork
  • Insurance: Use it or lose it!
  • Welcome back, Flora!
  • Honoring our Team Members
  • Days to remember in September

A big thank you to those patients who nominated us in the Frederick News-Post’s Best of the Best contest, under the category Health – Best Dental Practice

The first round of voting to elect the Top 5 in each category will start on Wednesday, September 22 and end on Tuesday, September 28.  We would be honored if you could help us be recognized as one of the top 5 dental practices in Frederick. All you need to do is visit the link and vote for Dr. Harvey Levy & Associates for Best Dental Practice. 

You can vote once each day. We appreciate your continued trust in us, and your support!

Why You Don’t Want to Have Gum Disease

By Dr. Harvey Levy & Lena Rotenberg

Which instruction did you hear more often growing up, “Take care of your teeth” or “Take care of your gums?” As a result most adults learn to be more focused on their teeth than on their gums, and end up with periodontal (gum) disease.

You’ve probably heard of gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial growth along the gumline around the teeth. You may see some blood when brushing, or some inflammation (redness and/or swelling) along the gumline. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, and affects an estimated 3 out of 4 adults. Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible: brush properly and floss daily to dislodge plaque (sticky film of bacteria) from your teeth, and go to the dentist twice a year to have your teeth professionally cleaned.

What the hygienist does during a preventive (prophy) cleaning is to remove any plaque, biofilm and calculus (hardened plaque) from around your teeth. This allows the gums to firmly reattach to the teeth, preventing bacteria from going deeper into the gums.

If gingivitis is allowed to progress the bacteria migrate deeper into the gums, creating space (periodontal pockets) between the teeth and the gums. The hygienist will measure the depth, in millimeters, of the pockets around each tooth (periodontal probing) to determine the seriousness of the condition. 

The diagnosis is now a more serious, non-reversible form of gum disease called periodontitis (periodontal disease, previously called pyorrhea), which becomes worse if left untreated. The bacteria progressively attack the gums, destroying the connective tissue that holds the teeth in place. Ultimately the bacteria penetrate deep enough to destroy the bone that holds the teeth. Due to bone loss caused by periodontitis, the teeth may be loosened, and can fall out. 

According to the CDC, 47.2% of American adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. The frequency and seriousness of periodontal disease increases with age:  70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.

Treatment for periodontal disease begins with a procedure called SRP (“scaling and root planing”) in which the hygienist removes the bacteria from the teeth under the gums. The procedure can be expensive, usually includes local anesthesia, and may require more than one visit. 

After SRP is performed, instead of preventive cleanings twice a year, you’ll have to come in for periodontal cleanings 3 or 4 times a year. The diagnostic part includes periodontal probings (to measure pockets) and x-rays (to measure bone loss), to determine whether the condition is stable or getting worse. 

In our office, perio disease management and treatment includes a deep cleaning above and under the gums, and possibly antibiotic and antimicrobial drugs.  Once you’re diagnosed with periodontitis, you have a non-reversible, chronic disease that must be managed.  You will never again qualify for a regular prophy cleaning.

You may be referred to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in gums, to manage the disease. Sadly, if you lose a tooth due to periodontal disease, you may not even have enough bone to support an implanted tooth to replace it. The periodontist may offer you bone graft surgery, to try to support the existing tooth or allow an implant.

In a future newsletter, we’ll give you even more reasons to avoid developing gum disease: Periodontitis also increases the risk of disease in other parts of your body. 

A healthy tooth surrounded by diseased gums is like a perfect, beautiful house sitting on quicksand. Take good care of your gums now, to keep more of your teeth as you grow older. 

More information:

Paperwork Reminder

We know it’s annoying that we’re obligated to subject you to paperwork. The information you enter in our forms helps us make sure that we’re treating you, not someone else. It also ensures that any diagnosis and treatment we provide will be aligned with your general medical/health conditions and concerns, and not contraindicated. These forms are not just busywork; they are truly important and deserve your full attention.

Almost a year ago we transitioned to electronic forms that don’t require printing out, accessible through the Patient Forms page of our website, or via this direct link. Here are step by step instructions for completing the forms.

If you are unable to complete the forms online, please let us know and we will ask you to arrive 45 minutes in advance of your appointment time to fill out a printed version.

So that our clinicians can review your health concerns to prepare for your visit, please submit the required paperwork to our office at least 48 hours prior to your appointment. We will attempt to remind you one day before that deadline.  If we do not receive a patient’s paperwork within this time frame, their appointment may be cancelled.

The year is quickly coming to an end. If you were prescribed dental treatment you have put on hold, now may be a good time to schedule an appointment. Why now? Because if you have dental insurance, and you don’t use your benefits before 12/31/21, you lose them! Your dental insurance benefits don’t roll over to the following year. 

Besides taking care of existing tooth pain, gum disease, or scheduling a routine cleaning and exam, here are 5 more reasons to schedule your next appointment:

  1. Your Insurance Deductible – Your deductible is the amount of money you have to pay each year before your insurance company starts paying for dental services. If you’ve already paid your deductible in 2021 but only visited us once, you are not getting your money’s worth. 
  2. Fee Increases or Substantial Changes in Coverage – There are *a lot* of changes happening to our health care system and coverage. Use your benefits before the end of 2021 because there could be fee increases or a reduction in services covered under your current plan.
  3. Use Your Existing flexible spending account (FSA) Contributions – Another great reason to schedule a dentist appointment before the end of the year is to spend any remaining balance in your flexible spending account (FSA). This is an account that you establish through your employer, and that you may have elected to have some of your pre-tax pay put into. Use it or lose it: If you don’t use all your FSA by the end of the year, you’ll lose them.
  4. You’ve Already Paid For It – Through your insurance provider, you are currently paying dental insurance premiums every month: you should be using your benefits! Even if you don’t have any pain or issues, you and your family should always have regular dental cleanings and screenings looking for early signs of gum disease, cavities, gum recession and even oral cancer.
  5. Yearly Maximum – Most dental plans have an annual dollar max. This is the maximum dollar amount a dental plan will pay toward the cost of dental care within a specific benefit period (usually January through December). This amount varies by insurance company and usually renews every year. If you have unused benefits, these will not rollover.

So, consider contacting us for an appointment now so that we can schedule you before this year ends. If you have existing untreated dental issues, this is a great time to get them treated. If not, then this is a good time to prime up your mouth to look good for your friends and families this holiday season (Halloween NOT included!) The holidays are a busy time for us and our schedule fills up quickly. Please call, use the “Request an Appointment” link on our website or e-mail us now to reserve your appointment.

Welcome Back Flora!

We’ve missed seeing Flora’s smile around the office, and are delighted to announce that Flora is back and increasing her number of hours with us. Flora has been with us part-time since 2012. She is fluent in Spanish and enjoys all patients, from children who are just learning to brush their teeth to people with challenging periodontal cases. She enjoys educating her patients about their oral health in a comforting way. She also loves to travel, garden, walk, and hike. When at home, she likes experimenting in the kitchen and, now that the kids are grown up, pampering her 3 cats.

Honoring Our Team Members

To learn more about our team members, visit Our Team page on our website.

MVP – Abbey

Every month we recognize a different team member who has gone above and beyond for our patients or other team members. In August, we recognized Abbey (on the right above, with Kristen to her left) for being a real gem, positive team player, office decorator, appetizer maker and consummate baker. Abbey also went out of her way to drop off OR (hospital operating room) paperwork after hours to ensure that a surgery was able to proceed on time. Thank you, Abbey, for always bringing a smile to our and our patients’ faces!

Service Recognition

We are proud of our outstanding team of professionals, many of whom have been with Dr. Harvey Levy & Associates for several years. In August, we recognized:

Kristy, a dental assistant who joined our team 18 years ago! Kristy helps our patients relax in the dental chair by comforting them with light conversation about her travels, family, and pets. She can chat with anyone about anything. She is also our very own weather girl and more reliable than any meteorologist we know!

Dr. Ellen Hailemelecot (“Dr. H.”), the new dentist who joined our team, has already celebrated a full year with us!  Dr. H. focuses on treating the whole mouth: she will definitely want to know what your goals are, and what you want to achieve. She has helped our patients get back on track with their dental health, has garnered a following of young patients, and has an easygoing manner which keeps us all at ease!

Days to Remember in September

September 6 – Labor Day is always held on the first Monday of September and is a celebration of American work ethic and productivity.

September 6 – Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Jewish new year. Traditionally, this is a day to reflect on the previous year’s transgressions and starting fresh for the year ahead.

September 11 – Patriot Day is held in remembrance of those who died during the September 11 attacks in 2001. This year marks the 20th anniversary of September 11th.

September 12 – Grandparents Day was first celebrated in 1978, every year since the President issues a proclamation to continue the tradition of recognizing and celebrating our grandparents!

September 15 – Yom Kippur is the holiest Jewish holidays and is a day to ask for forgiveness, reflect on past mistakes, and seek repentance.

September 17 – Constitution Day recognizes the day that the United States adopted the constitution in 1787. The American Bar Association and other organizations may offer free legal advice in honor of this occasion.

September 21 – International Day of Peace is observed on the opening day of the annual regular session of the United Nations. Some observe this day with moments of silence at noon or holding special events like peace walks or community volunteering.

September 22 – First Day of Fall!

For more fun facts and information about the Month of September, check out:

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