Restoring Order
At Blue Bell Periodontics, Dr. Pouya Hatam and her team embrace new methods for further improving the advanced care offered to patients
by Sharon A. Shaw

Sometimes, out of chaos comes improvement. Such was the case for Pouya Hatam, D.M.D., periodontist and owner of Blue Bell Periodontics. When a sprinkler malfunction in the office next door caused significant damage to her practice’s office, Dr. Hatam used the unfortunate incident as an opportunity to invest in ways to further improve the already advanced care she had been offering her patients.

The office was entirely updated, from the wiring in the walls to the purchase of a new CT scanner that enables her to see diagnostic images of patients’ mouths in 3-D, offering significantly improved details compared to traditional X-rays.

“With cone beam technology, we are able to see the bone structure, the position of the nerves and the sinuses, any fractures in the teeth, any pathology around the teeth and, to some extent, even cavities in the teeth,” Dr. Hatam explains. “Because of this, we can diagnose problems much more accurately and treat the patient more effectively. With more knowledge of the situation, we can foresee problems and then take care of them.”

Dr. Hatam’s patients have certainly benefited from this advanced technology, as have the referring dentists with whom she has close working relationships. A dentist usually refers a patient to a periodontist when he or she feels the patient needs specialized expertise pertaining to issues affecting the bone and gum tissue surrounding the teeth. These issues include gingivitis, tooth loss and bone resorption, as well as lesions, missing teeth and needs for implants, plus disorders affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and cosmetic concerns such as a “gummy” smile or an uneven gum line. But now, dentists can utilize Dr. Hatam’s cone beam technology as an extension of their own office to diagnose patients’ problems more accurately. The technology helps general dentists with diagnosing root fracture and the need for a root canal, as well as determining an adequate amount of bone structure, even the possibility for teeth movement.

“We work very closely with the referring dentists,” Dr. Hatam says. “We are a team. Specialists provide support for patient treatment. Along with the best materials and skilled technicians, we all work together to provide a successful treatment for the patient.”

For patients with missing or damaged teeth who require full-mouth reconstruction, Blue Bell Periodontics can provide them with teeth from Day One of treatment. Through a process that enables Dr. Hatam to install a series of dental implants in a single appointment, patients will undergo surgery and then walk out of the office with teeth the same day. “This cuts down on the time that they are without teeth,” Dr. Hatam explains. “Also, the patient doesn’t need to go to several different surgical procedures. Because the grafting and implants are bundled, it also cuts down on cost.”  

Not all of Blue Bell Periodontics’ patients come from referring dentists, though. Many contact the practice because they were recommended by friends or family members. “Patients can specifically request a periodontist who has been recommended to them,” Dr. Hatam says. “Most of the time, their dentists will agree as long as they know the periodontist is providing the best care for the patient’s needs.” Her reputation as an expert, as well as a compassionate doctor, has helped make Blue Bell Periodontics one of the area’s leading providers.

Raised in Germany, Dr. Hatam was encouraged to pursue a career in health care by her father, a maxillofacial surgeon. She decided on dentistry because it allowed her to use her hands and to be creative. Once she began dental school, though, she realized how much she loved working with patients. “I love people,” she says. “I have always been a ‘people person.’” She enjoyed the field so much that she began working as a teaching instructor at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, and continued with her education in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

After getting married, she and her husband moved to United States, where she continued her studies at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. She earned her certificate in periodontics and has stayed with the university for 16 years, serving in different capacities, from clinical instructor to the clinical director of undergraduate periodontics; she also served as the staff periodontist for all five university faculty practices. In 2004, while still maintaining her position at the university, she opened her private office in Blue Bell. To this day, she remains involved with the university. Just this year, for example, she started a new position as teaching faculty in the post-graduate program for periodontics and periodontal prosthetics.

Besides working in her office and teaching at the university, Dr. Hatam is very involved in her community. She has two sons, the oldest of whom is now studying pre-medicine and intends to become a dentist. “It will be the third generation in our family,” she says. When asked how she manages it all, Dr. Hatam says, “I think as a working woman you do what you have to. Every mother does that. I put my family first, but my office is also my family.” Indeed, it is this sense of care and concern that sets her apart. “Having periodontal work done is, by default, not comfortable,” she says. “My job is to make it as comfortable as possible.”

To this end, Blue Bell Periodontics offers convenient hours, a friendly staff and a comfortable office. “I felt that most dental offices are so confined,” says Dr. Hatam, who had a strong hand in the practice’s design and recent renovation. “I wanted mine to have a very open floor plan.” The renovated office is home to three surgical suites, though surgeries are never scheduled at the same time. “We want to schedule patients so that they are never waiting; one comes in as the next is heading out. It is not the quantity of patients I see but the quality of the time I spend with them that is important to me.”

Indeed, Dr. Hatam confesses that a large percentage of her friends are former patients with whom she often meets for lunch or coffee. “Every person has things they like and dislike, things they fear—a fear of dentistry is often part of that—but when you connect at a deeper level, you understand what they want from their care,” Dr. Hatam says. “We treat the tooth but we work on the patient.”

Many of the patients who seek Dr. Hatam out have avoided care for years because they were either scared of the dentist or too self-conscious about their condition to seek treatment. “I am in tune with my patients’ fears and needs,” she says. “They have told me it is not easy for them to go to the dentist but that I make it easy; I think it is because I talk a lot.”

The warm, friendly nature of Dr. Hatam and her staff puts patients at ease. Irene Carmen, who has been in the dental field since 1979, brings a wealth of knowledge to the practice as office manager. She worked previously with Dr. Hatam at Penn and was instrumental in working with her to set up the practice. Patient care coordinator Shelby Kessler brings her years of experience in the medical and dental fields to the practice, where she schedules treatment for the patient, arranges financing and acts as a liaison between the patient’s general dentist and Dr. Hatam. Sarah Mauthe provides routine and specialized dental hygiene for patients.

Blue Bell Periodontics also boasts a board-certified anesthesiologist who can provide anesthesiology similar to that offered in a hospital setting. This is especially helpful for surgical patients who are undergoing lengthier procedures, who are fearful or who cannot tolerate stressful situations due to a medical condition.

Whether managing the daily stresses of her own successful practice or easing the fears of patients facing periodontal treatment, Dr. Hatam and her staff are now better equipped than ever to help restore order for patients and the referring dentists who treat them.

Blue Bell Periodontics
676 Dekalb Pike, Suite 207
Bluebell, PA 19422
610-272-4482 |

Photograph by Kim Billingsley