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Your Beermonger: Through the Haze — How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Juice Bomb

This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

The rise of Hazy/Juicy/New England-style IPAs was probably my first “old man yells at cloud” moment as a beer “professional”, or whatever it is I am.

They weren’t bitter, and the “haze for haze’s sake” thing was almost immediately obnoxious to me. It felt like style was trumping substance, not to mention the difficulty in keeping up with the tide of frequent new releases.

The thing that might’ve irked me the most was that I really liked a lot of the beers that kicked off the movement, and have enjoyed many that followed. To name only a few: The Alchemist’s Heady Topper is great, and if anything I enjoy Focal Banger even more.

The Lawson’s Finest Liquids beers I’ve tried have been excellent. I adore Two Roads’ Two Juicy, Solace’s Partly Cloudy and mostly anything Commonwealth Brewing Company puts out, and have been on a recent kick with Fat Orange Cat’s Write Drunk Edit Sober (pictured — how did they know?).

So, as usually happens once I get over myself, I found myself far more open to new takes on the style, and more easily able to discern what I liked/disliked in a Hazy IPA, and whose versions I tended to prefer. Not much of a surprise there.

What did surprise me was something I started noticing before, but especially after I rejoined the staff here at Arrowine: how many wine drinkers were getting into Hazy IPAs.

Actually, the idea coalesced observing our own fearless leader himself, Doug Rosen. Where just a few years ago, you couldn’t pay him to drink the average IPA, now he’d try new Hazy IPA arrivals and note their flavors, and balance. This threw me for a loop. What balance? I would think. There’s little or no bittering hop here; little in the way of malt character — where’s the balance in that? 

But it wasn’t just Doug saying things like this; a number of our customers, especially our more wine-centric ones, were finding themselves enjoying IPAs, many for the first time.

I realize now that I was thinking of “balanced” IPA in terms of what it used to be — which I still love, mind you — back in the days of the IBU wars, when the more aggressively bitter your IPA was the more sought after it became.

With an emphasis on low bitterness, fruity aromas/flavors and specific varietal characteristics (from hops rather than grapes), Hazy IPAs are a great gateway beer for wine fans, many of whom are discovering that they didn’t dislike “hoppy” beer so much as overly “bitter” hoppy beer.

So, scoff at that orange juice-looking beer on Instagram (like I still do at more egregious examples), but bear in mind that it and others like it are expanding beer’s audience and consumer base at a time when between an explosion of new breweries, continued growth in hard liquor/cocktails and the looming competition of legalized marijuana (more on that at some point), new consumers are more important and more difficult to draw in than ever.

Until next time.

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Open Houses in Arlington this Weekend

Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.

Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here are a few highlights:

3187 17th Street N.
5 BR/6 BA single-family home
Agent: Ttr Sotheby’s International Realty
Listed: $2,095,000
Open: Saturday 2-4 p.m.

 

4148 N. Round Hill Road
4 BR/3 BA, 2 half bath single-family home
Agent: Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
Listed: $1,324,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

 

1730 S. Fillmore Street
5 BR/3 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Keller Williams Realty Falls Church
Listed: $1,000,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

1245 N. Pierce Street #8
3 BR/2 BA condo
Agent: Rlah Real Estate
Listed: $800,000
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

4300 8th Street S.
3 BR/2 BA single-family home
Agent: Rlah Real Estate
Listed: $749,000
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

1600 N. Oak Street #927
2 BR/2 BA condo
Agent: Washington Fine Properties
Listed: $674,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

1921 S. Quincy Street
2 BR/1 BA single-family home
Agent: Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $528,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

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Just Listed in Arlington

Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

We’ve barely made it to Valentine’s Day (hope you remembered the flowers) and Arlington’s Spring real estate market has already blown up.

This week sellers listed 42 homes and buyers ratified 58 contracts, and 23 of those were on homes only seven days on the market. More than half the new listings sold within a week! Amazing. And of course there were bidding wars.

What’s a buyer got to do to win? To the best of your ability, go big on price and take out as many contingencies as you can. Remember, every home you lose becomes the comp for the next listing. A buyer needs to get out ahead of the market just once to win, otherwise the buyer gets farther behind.

Interests rates bounced upward a bit this week on news that some inflation factors bumped up. The 30-yr fixed rate is at about 4.5%-4.6%.

Nationally, there are already signs that the housing market is not keeping pace with the strong U.S. economy. The number of sales and total sales volumes are down from last year, which itself was a down year. Some economists point to three reasons: student debt holding back first time home buyers, inventory shortage nationwide and uncertainty about mortgage interest rates.

Buyers and sellers are both effected by these conditions. Many home owners want to sell and either move up, move down, or move out, but they can’t find a suitable replacement home. And home buyers are squeezed by rising prices, no choices, rising mortgage rates and relatively flat household income.

As economists generally agree, the U.S. housing market has a profound influence on the U.S. economy.

When you are thinking of buying or selling real estate, call Team Cathell for a free consultation at (703) 975-2500.

Click to see all the fresh new inventory in MRIS.

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Boring Title: 2019 Real Estate Market Update — Everything You Need to Know

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly feature will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

We brought in Chris Heisey from Snead Custom Homes to tell you everything you need to know!

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Arlington Pet of the Week: Kobe Washington

Becky's Pet Care

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Kobe Washington, a young boxer-labrador mix living in Rosslyn.

Here’s what owner, Crystal, had to say on Kobe’s behalf:

Hello Arlington! My name is Kobe Washington. I am a 10 week old Boxador Mix who resides in Rosslyn as of a week ago. I have a little story of how I was brought from Corinth, Mississippi to Northern Virginia!

I was found in Corinth, Mississippi by very nice people from Wolf Trap Animal Rescue. They found me along with 3 other dogs and 35 puppies (a bit of a crowded situation). I was taken from Mississippi  and brought to McLean,Virginia to find my new family! My Dad (before he was my Dad) came into PetSmart in Tyson’s Corner on December 8th, and couldn’t take his eyes off me! He knew I would be a perfect Christmas present for my now Mommy. He adopted me the Saturday before Christmas! He put me in a Santa suit and surprised my new Mommy with me in hand! My new Mommy smothered me in hugs and kisses, and the rest was history!

If you see me around town on my walks (that I’m not liking so much at the moment), please feel free to stop and say hi! I love meeting new people and dogs, I like to play, cuddle, eat and sleep!  I rather stop and say hi to people than walk!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care is the winner of six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.

Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.

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Arts Focus: The Library’s Groovin’ On the Pike Dance Party Series Continues

This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts / Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

The Groovin’ On the Pike: After Hours at the Library dance party series continues for March.

The collaboration between Arlington Cultural Affairs/Arlington Arts and Arlington Public Library features a diverse line-up of musical groups routinely drawing upwards of 200 patrons to dance in the stacks and enjoy a brew from the cash bar every first Friday of the month at 7 p.m.

Here’s a quick look at the schedule for March and April:

March 1 — Bitter Dose Combo

The Bitter Dose Combo is D.C.’s premiere gypsy jazz band, playing swing and hot jazz standards at social dances, bistros, supper clubs, weddings and special events in and around the District.

The BDC’s sound combines the improvisation and swinging guitar made famous by Django Reinhardt with spirited jazz vocals, Paris musette accordion and upright bass.

April 5 — Los Gallos Negros

From rural son jarocho to urban mariachi styles and contemporary Caribbean rhythms, Los Gallos are an eclectic musical ensemble working to make the modern more traditional and the traditional more modern. Members of the group hail from throughout the U.S. and all have strong roots in Mexico. Los Gallos perform regularly across the East Coast, including National Mall marches, Smithsonian museums and even the 2016 White House Cinco de Mayo celebration for President Barack Obama.

Come on out and discover another side to your local library! Click this link for free tickets.

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Ask Eli: Dealing With Homes Selling Above Asking Price

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Are you seeing people use Escalation Addendums in their offers now that the supply of homes has dropped?

Answer: The use of Escalation Addendums in multiple offer situations is not new, but the frequency with which they are being used is. In the last three months over 25% of sales have been for over the asking price (another 24% have been for full ask). All-time low inventory levels + strong demand = price increases and a lot of competition from well-qualified buyers.

In the last 24 hours our team has submitted three offers on properties with multiple offers that will no doubt sell for over the asking price. In many cases, using an Escalation Addendum is the best strategy for buyers and sellers so let’s take a look at what that means.

What is an Escalation Addendum?

An Escalation Addendum provides the maximum value a buyer will pay and an escalation factor, the amount their offer is to increase over the next highest offer. Sellers may use the escalation without further approval from the buyer, but they must deliver to the buyer the entirety of the contract used to escalate the accepted offer. Escalations are based on “Net Price” meaning purchase price less any seller credits.

Understand the Risks

The obvious risk in using an Escalation is that buyers are exposing their maximum purchase price and some sellers may ask for that max, regardless of whether or not another offer allows them to get there contractually. There are strategies buyers can use to prevent a seller from doing this and, in my experience, most sellers use Escalations as they’re meant to be used.

The other not-so-obvious problem is with non-financial differences between two contracts. The Escalation Addendum says nothing about differences in settlement date, contingencies and other non-financial terms that make a material difference between contracts (e.g. no Home Inspection Contingency vs full Inspection Contingency is treated equally in the Escalation Addendum).

When to use an Escalation Addendum

Escalations are best used when there are multiple confirmed offers and the seller has set a deadline for “best-and-final” offers. It’s important for buyers to establish expectations with the seller before they include an Escalation Addendum to maximize the benefit and reduce the risks.

This is where having an experienced agent working for you can be the difference between making a smart decision and irresponsible one or securing a home and helping somebody else secure it.

Proper Communication is a Win-Win

I strongly believe that with proper communication between sellers and buyers, Escalation Addendums benefit both parties by allowing the seller to draw out the highest available price for their home and allowing buyers to confidently maximize their chance of securing a home. Improper communication leads to a lack of trust and a lack of trust will almost always earn sellers less and may keep the most motivated buyer out of the home of their dreams.

I can think of a recent example where a seller left 2% on the table by failing to communicate appropriately which compromised the trust of our client leading them to hold back on their offer terms. A lack of trust kept 2% out of the seller’s pocket and kept our client out of a home they loved.

It’s Not Always About Price

Being the winning offer amongst multiple offers isn’t always about price. Buyers need to focus on non-financial terms as well to set themselves apart and it’s important to understand how you can increase the strength of your offer without taking on excessive risk, but that’s a topic for another day.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home and would like to discuss the right strategies in today’s market feel free to email me at [email protected] to set-up a meeting.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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Legal Insider: Early Retirement for Federal Employees

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq.

The Federal workforce is presently undergoing significant changes in size and scope.

In some instances, this has led to the Federal government providing incentives for Federal employees to retire early. Federal agencies that are undergoing substantial organizational changes such as reorganization, reduction in force, reshaping or downsizing can be given the option to offer federal employees voluntary early retirement based on the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA). OPM provides guidance on VERA here.

The purpose of VERA is to help agencies complete the necessary organizational change with minimal disruption to the workforce and make it possible for federal employees to receive an immediate annuity payment years before they would be eligible.

The voluntary early retirement provisions are the same under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Requirements for Early Retirement

In order to be eligible to retire under VERA, a federal employee must usually meet the following requirements:

  •  Meet the VERA minimum age and service requirements set by statutes in the U.S. Code for CSRS and FERS employees (i.e., the employee has completed at least 20 years of creditable service and is at least 50 years of age or has completed at least 25 years of creditable service regardless of age).
  • Have been continuously employed by the agency for at least 31 days before the date that the agency initially requested the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approval of VERA.
  • Hold a position that is not a time-limited appointment.
  • Have not received a final removal decision based upon misconduct or unacceptable performance.
  • Hold a position covered by the agency’s VERA authority or program.
  • Retire under the VERA option during the agency’s VERA acceptance period.

It is very important for federal employees considering a VERA offer or whether one is available to seek the advice of an attorney regarding their retirement issues prior to initiating the VERA process.

Our law firm represents federal employees that are considering early retirement and in other federal retirement matters.

Conclusion

If you are in need of federal employee retirement law representation, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Ballston Tech Startup Works to Fight Forgetting

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated 1 p.m.)In a groundbreaking 1885 paper, Hermann Ebbinghaus coined the idea of a learning curve. But there was a second part of the paper that tends to get forgotten: a “forgetting curve” of exponential loss of information over time.

That’s where Blank Slate Technologies, a startup based out of Ballston, comes in. Blank Slate Technologies offers learning programs aimed at improving recall weeks, months, or even years after the initial training.

The program assesses the difficulty of various lessons and the time since training to target refreshers only at times where that information is likely to have hit the “forgetting curve.”

Alex Hasslacher, director of sales at Blank Slate Technologies, said the founding team knew each other at Boston University and this was a common interest. The company was founded a little over one year ago.

“It’s an old idea with new technology,” said Hasslacher.

The company’s app has trivia questions on flashcards with multiple answers. An algorithm relies on user feedback to identify which information people are most likely to forget, and when, and then the program asks questions surrounding those subjects.

Professionals from Blank Slate Technologies assist the companies or organizations using the software to design the content for the program and supply data analytics to provide information on training.

Any audio, video or image can be worked into the system, meaning the program isn’t limited by language barriers. Hasslacher said the technology is flexible; he sees it being useful in corporate or education cultures, in everything from elementary school to MBA-level programs.

Hasslacher said the company works on a monthly subscription, usually for at least one year. Costs vary on the size of the organization using the program.

Photo via Blank Slate Technologies

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Rethink Energy: Free Green Renovation and Home Building Resource

This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Have you been thinking about a home renovation, expansion or new construction in 2019?

You aren’t alone. More than 300 Arlingtonians have used Green Home Choice to help make their homes energy efficient, healthy and comfortable.

Green Home Choice is a FREE County program that helps homeowners make renovations, additions and new home construction healthier and more sustainable. Not only does the Green Home Choice certification program make your home more energy and water efficient, it also makes your home more comfortable with better indoor air quality, stormwater management, tree preservation and reduced waste.

When buying a car, fuel efficiency and a comfortable ride are central considerations. Given the investment you make when renovating or building a new home, comfort and efficiency are equally important.

On average, a Green Home Choice home uses 50% less energy than Arlington homes of the same size and saves between $600 and $1600 per year on utility bills.

Green Home Choice also helps homeowners renovate their kitchens and bathrooms in a more sustainable way and offers a certification for participation.

Whether you are a homeowner, developer, architect or builder, Green Home Choice can help you rethink your next construction project to enhance the quality, value and overall sustainability of your home.

For more information about the program, visit the Green Home Choice Website at www.greenhomechoice.us or contact [email protected].

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Open Houses in Arlington this Weekend

Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.

Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here are a few highlights:

2626 N. Nelson Street
4 BR/3 BA single-family home
Agent: Casey Margenau Fine Homes and Estates Inc.
Listed: $1,525,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

 

50 N. Fenwick Street
4 BR/3 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Samson Properties
Listed: $1,195,000
Open: Saturday 12:30-3:30 p.m.

 

4409 S. Pershing Court
4 BR/3 BA, 1 half bath villa/townhouse
Agent: Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $924,900
Open: Saturday 1-4 p.m.

 

1109 S. Rolfe Street
5 BR/3 BA single-family home
Agent: Compass
Listing: $849,900
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

1530 N. Key Boulevard #324
2 BR/2 BA condo
Agent: Washington Dulles Real Estate Group
Listing: $680,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

 

4119 S. Four Mile Run Drive #102
2 BR/2 BA condo
Agent: Keller Williams Realty
Listed: $410,000
Open: Saturday 1-3 p.m.

 

900 N. Stafford Street #1711
1 BR/1 BA condo
Agent: Century 21 Redwood Realty
Listed: $385,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

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Just Listed in Arlington

Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

Sellers got the memo this week that Arlington’s Spring real estate market has arrived and they listed 57 homes of all types and prices.

Incredibly, 18 of those homes sold within a week. In total, buyers ratified 43 contracts. Stories are being told in real estate offices of multiple offers on many of those sold this week, some homes attracting 13 offers. Lower to medium priced homes up to $750,000 are more likely to enjoy the bidding wars primarily because there are just more buyers in those price ranges.

Also, in most cases homes in pristine move-in condition get the most attention and sell quickly. Of course all homes will sell when priced properly for their location, size and condition. The abundance of fresh new listings this week helps to improve Arlington’s problem of low inventory.

Nationally, home prices rose just 4.7% last year, according to CoreLogic. That’s the lowest rate of increase since 2012. Rising interest rates and lowered affordability were to blame. “For 2019,” says CoreLogic, “we are forecasting an annual average price growth of 3.4%.”

Arlington should expect a higher rate of appreciation with continued bidding wars fueled by strong housing demand, low inventory and a healthy economy with only 1.9% unemployment. Memo to buyers: the longer you wait, the less home you can afford.

Right now is the best time to buy. Mortgage rates have flattened at 4.5% for a 30-yr fixed mortgage, but could start going up again anytime. With prices rising, the only way a buyer can get ahead of the market is to score a significant boost in their income.

Click here to see all the fresh new inventory in MRIS and call Team Cathell (703-975-2500) when you find a home you like.

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Love is All Arlington this Valentine’s Day

The Made in Arlington Pop-Up is in full bloom on February 12 at the Courthouse Plaza Shop with new vendors and sweet treats for all the Valentines in your life.

Adding local charm to gifts of the heart, Arlington’s creative makers, artisans and entrepreneurs are part of a growing creative sector. Not sure how to declare your love or say it best? FastSnail greetings is on hand with artist designed cards that will make the recipient smile.

Welcome fresh flowers from new vendor Tiny Bloom Shop. Pick up a small vase of beauty designed by Gretchen Dimina, a former buyer for the Renwick Gallery shop, who puts charm and whimsy in all her arrangements.

Sweets for your sweet? Hand decorated cookies made from scratch are a hallmark of Village Sweet that spell out messages in icing. Or give in to a chocolate craving with rich delights from Kingsbury Chocolates.

More local surprises for the home and heart come from Dennison Lane home accessories and Mandy Sahm’s unique felted wool jewelry and crafts.

Stop by and shop some local love!

Tuesday, February 12
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Plaza Library Shop
2100 Clarendon Blvd., 1st Floor Lobby

For ongoing Creative Economy listings and opportunities, click here. View more Creative Economy stories on our blog.

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Reclaim Your Smile in 2019

The start of a new year is a great time to refocus on health and your overall well-being.

If your focus for 2019 is on healthier habits, begin with your smile! Whether it has been years since your last appointment, or you are looking to get more out of your dental routine, there are simple things you can do to refresh your smile.

Drs. Dudley and Hartman at Elite Dental answer some commonly asked questions below for you to think about before your next dental appointment.

What are the Biggest Misconceptions Your New Patients Have?

Dr. Scott Dudley explains, “Patients often think, ‘If I don’t have any pain, I don’t have any problems.’ In many cases, that’s not true. Dental problems are microscopic. When they’re left untreated, they can grow into painful issues that require extensive work.

In the end, you’re spending more time and money to correct something that could’ve been prevented with regular hygiene appointments.”

Serious dental problems all share common threads:

  • Not knowing the risk of putting off treatment
  • Not following professional guidance
  • Not keeping a regular hygiene schedule.

Despite many patients’ concerns for cavities, most dental issues are from gum disease, fractures and worn teeth. Dentists can keep patients from needing more extensive procedures like root canals or implants with proper diagnosis and preventative treatment.

The dentists at Elite Dental prevent costly dental problems through modern technology, such as:

  • High-magnification loupes
  • High resolution radiographs
  • Specialized light to illuminate teeth

Through comprehensive care, Elite Dental patients can greatly reduce the amount of time and money they spend at the dental office. Their philosophy prevents patients from having extensive treatment to rebuild their smile.

What do you say to patients who are concerned that dentistry is expensive?

Dr. Alyssa Hartman says, “Dentistry can be very expensive if oral health is not maintained over time. Many patients find themselves spending lots of money on dental procedures because either they, or their providers, failed to maintain teeth and gums adequately.

This often results in an expensive year or two of dentistry. If patients had maintained their teeth over the previous 5-10 years, the total cost and number of procedures would have been reduced.”

Dentistry is most expensive when it’s ignored or when providers and patients fail to be proactive. Finding a dentist who will take the time to be thorough, explain your oral health and empower you in maintaining your smile makes all the difference.

New Year, New You

Give your smile the attention it deserves this year! By making consistent appointments, you can save time, money and most importantly, your smile. If it’s been some time since your last hygiene appointment, start the new year by scheduling one today!

Call Elite Dental 703-991-5169 to start the year off right with a new patient appointment. For a limited time, you can mention this article to receive a free tooth whitening kit!

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Healthy Paws: Can I Catch MRSA from My Pet?

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Can I catch that from my pet? This is a common question we hear as veterinarians, and as such have made this a recurring topic. This week we cover antimicrobial resistance.

MRSA is a term many people have heard, but what does it mean? How did I get it and what role might this adorable furball, sleeping in my bed, possibly play?

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Wow. That’s a lot of big words.

Staph aureus is a bacteria that is normally found in the skin and nose of healthy people and it usually does not cause a problem. The dog equivalent of Staphyloccus aureus is Staphylococcus pseudointermedius and it acts the same way as it’s cousin (and is normally found on their skin).

Because they are so closely related, these cousins can occasionally swap places; you may transiently have some of your dog’s Staph pseudointermedius and Fido may have some of your Staph aureus. Again, it’s important to remember that in most cases, this is not a concern and is a normal part of life.

Human physicians and veterinarians become concerned when there is an underlying illness or injury, when the bacteria can take advantage of the break in the normal immune system and cause an infection.

This is of special concern in hospitals, nursing homes and in the homes of immunocompromised people. The treatment for this infection is antibiotics, but unfortunately, like Frankenstein’s monster, this treatment can lead to something much more serious.

Occasionally, Staph can become resistant to the antibiotics, and once it’s accumulated enough resistance to enough antibiotics, it turns into Methicillin-Resistant Staph. This doesn’t mean that it’s a stronger or more infectious bacteria, it just means that it’s harder to treat in the instances where it is causing a problem.

We are becoming more and more concerned about antibiotic resistance and now there is a growing movement of Antibiotic Stewardship, where physicians and veterinarians try to use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary.

Since you and your dog may share normal Staph between the two of you, can you also share the methicillin-resistant Staph? The short answer is yes, but in most cases, this is not a huge problem because remember, it’s not inherently a stronger or more infectious bacteria.

However, it becomes a concern if the 2-legged or 4-legged family members are very young, very old, immunosuppressed or pregnant. If this is a concern in your household and your pet was diagnosed with a skin infection, please discuss this with your physician.

Prevention 
So, since “rarely doesn’t mean never” — the risk of getting resistant infections from your pet are low, but they are not zero… and I’m sure we’d all rather not have an infection with a highly drug-resistant bacterium. Accordingly, the use of proper hygiene and infection control measures, particularly around an animal with an active infection, is always important. These measures include:

  • Frequent hand washing after contact with the pet.
  • Avoiding contact with the infected site.
  • Keeping the infected site covered with an impermeable dressing, whenever possible.
  • Reducing contact with the nose of the infected animal, since it may also be carrying the bacterium there. In general, reducing close contact (e.g. snuggling, nuzzling, hugging, kissing) during the period of infection is a good idea.
  • Regular washing (in hot water with hot air drying, whenever possible) of pet beds and other items that come into close and frequent contact with the pet.

Is all that overkill? Probably. But it’s also an easy and practical plan, and a reasonable approach to reduce the already-low risks.

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