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Minimally Invasive Guided Implant Placement

Revolutionary 3D system improves precision of dental implant surgery.

Nick Copenhaver spends a lot of time each day with his sibling. The brothers own and operate an aluminum installation company. In their spare time, when they have any, the two like to be outdoors hunting or fishing.

: Nick Copenhaver was first patient to undergo computer-navigated implant placement with X-Guide™; Debi Grover (17A) was treated with LANAP for gum disease.

Nick can smile with ease thanks to Dr. Farag.

“I spend a lot of time with him,” Nick shares. “We’re young, so we work hard and play hard.”

When Nick found himself in dire need of dental care, he turned to his brother for advice.

“I had a couple of bridges in my mouth that were placed there years ago by another dentist,” Nick recalls. “The material wasn’t strong, and one of the bridges broke off. I dealt with it for a while. I had a difficult time chewing meats and other hard foods. I was forced to eat softer foods most of the time. I wasn’t enjoying life like I should have been.

“One day recently, I felt pain in my mouth because the gums were infected underneath the broken bridge. I was complaining to my brother, and he sent me to his dentist, Dr. Farag.”

Implant Innovation

Nick made an appointment to meet with Joseph Farag, DMD, at Advanced Dentistry of Fort Myers. After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Farag determined that Nick needed bone grafting to prepare his gums for dental implants.

According to statistics from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), by their mid 40s, sixty-nine percent of adults have lost at least one permanent tooth as a result of tooth decay, gum disease, a failed root canal or an accident. By their mid 70s, twenty-six percent of adults no longer have any of their permanent teeth.

With the advent of dental implants, however, more patients are realizing the potential for healthier, stronger teeth. And given the exceptionally high success rates associated with dental implants, the choice makes sense.

Dr. Farag explains that a dental implant is an artificial replacement for the root of a tooth. The implant, which is made of titanium, provides a foundation on which permanent teeth or removable teeth can be securely attached. Implants can prevent deterioration of the bone beneath the gums, which helps maintain the fullness of the face and provides a good bite. They also stimulate the bone, causing it to strengthen and maintain volume. 

X-Guide™ Precision

Dr. Farag advised that Nick would be an ideal candidate to utilize the X-Guide Dynamic 3D Navigation system, the latest in implant-placement technology.

: Nick Copenhaver was first patient to undergo computer-navigated implant placement with X-Guide™; Debi Grover (17A) was treated with LANAP for gum disease.

Dr. Farag uses the X-Guide Navigation system to place Nick’s implant.

“Nick experienced some bone loss where the bridge broke off in his mouth,” Dr. Farag explains. “We wanted to build up the bone and repair the tissue first before placing implants to support a new bridge. I determined he was an ideal candidate for the X-Guide because of the accuracy it presents in placing the implants.”

Developed in close collaboration with leading oral and maxillofacial surgeons, the X-Guide system is the latest in digital dentistry. It allows dentists to use 3D information at their fingertips in real time. In collaboration with the X-Guide system, surgeons also use the cone beam 3D image scan to plan and place implants with detailed accuracy.

The X-Guide system is designed to make it easy to be exact by combining the latest software plus new, patent-pending X-Point™ navigation technology, which reportedly is the first single-view guidance of implant position, angle and depth. Compatible with most cone beam 3D systems, the technology allows oral surgeons to place implants in remarkable detail.

“With the X-Guide, visualizing the placement of the implant is done in real time on a computer screen,” Dr. Farag describes. “With this technology, implants are placed with ten times more accuracy than if placed freehand. The precision is within about a half degree, whereas before we had about a five-degree deviation.

“The technological process begins even before we place the implant,” Dr. Farag continues. “When the patient first comes in, we take a three-D x-ray so that we can properly evaluate the bone and tissue in three dimensions and plan for placement based on the measurements we take off of that 3D image. It is done with amazing accuracy and in real time. This is a remarkable advancement for patients and surgeons alike. I am pleased to be able to offer this to my patients.”

Goodbye Gum Disease

Debi Grover knows a smile is the first thing people notice about someone.

As an investment REALTOR® and design consultant, Debi is face to face with people all day, and her own smile is something she became concerned with.

“With my job, I have to greet people every day, and the first thing we notice is a person’s teeth,” Debi says. “I had suspected for a while that I had periodontal disease. I didn’t have any bleeding or anything like that when I brushed, but I had extreme plaque buildup, and I knew that over time, damage had been done to my gums. I wanted to be able to smile and not feel like I had to hide my teeth. The most important thing to me was saving my natural teeth. I got to a point where I knew I needed to find a dentist who could help me do that.”

After researching LANAP® laser-assisted gum treatment online, Debi came across Advanced Dentistry of Fort Myers.

“I read that they are very skilled and knowledgeable in treating gum disease with this laser, so I made an appointment in order to gain additional knowledge about it.”

Debi met with Dr. Farag to discuss this option and decide if it was the right treatment for her.

LANAP to the Rescue

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory process that can be a chronic or an acute problem. According to Dr. Farag, periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue that supports the teeth. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) estimates between 50 and 75 percent of Americans have some form of periodontal disease, some through no fault of their own.

“Debi had moderate to advanced stages of periodontal disease,” describes Dr. Farag. “We offered her the option of conventional surgery to repair the gums or the LANAP laser-assisted treatment option. Because Debi had already researched LANAP, she knew right away she wanted that procedure done.”

In the past, traditional gum treatment involved cutting away the infected gum tissue and placing sutures to hold the reduced tissue in place during the healing process. During conventional gum surgery, the scalpel cannot differentiate between healthy and diseased gum, so the patient loses healthy tissue as well as diseased tissue.

This approach always results in recession of the gums – a lowering of the level of gum tissue. If the gum tissue recedes too far, it can leave the sensitive tooth roots exposed.

Healthy gums adhere closely to the teeth, supporting them so they don’t become loose in the jawbone. When people develop gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease, it causes irritation, redness and swelling. As periodontal disease progresses, the bone is lost around the tooth and the pockets around the teeth get deeper. If left untreated, gingivitis may lead to a second, more serious stage called periodontitis.

: Nick Copenhaver was first patient to undergo computer-navigated implant placement with X-Guide™; Debi Grover (17A) was treated with LANAP for gum disease.

Debi is no longer embarrassed to smile.

Research studies show that laser-assisted dental gum therapy is superior to conventional surgery in a number of ways. The most notable to the patient is that they don’t lose their gumline. “We do not want the gums to recede, which can make the teeth appear longer,” says Dr. Farag. “The goal is healthy gums that reattach naturally to the teeth.

“During the first laser pass,” continues Dr. Farag, “three goals are accomplished. First, the energy vaporizes the diseased lining, leaving the healthy tissue intact. Second, it dehydrates the tartar on the tooth, making it very brittle and easy to remove from the tooth. Third, it kills the bacteria on the gum that is exposed to the laser.

“During the second step, I use an ultrasonic instrument. Its fine tip vibrates and removes the tarter, breaking it away from the tooth. We then flush with an antimicrobial substance that stops the growth of new bacteria. In this step, we affect the bone around the tooth and remove the diseased lining of the tissue.

“The third step involves another pass with the laser at a different setting. This last pass stops any bleeding and creates the best antimicrobial seal possible, preventing re-infection and releasing growth factors from the blood cells to regenerate the attachment.”

Debi’s procedure was completed in one day.

“That is the other advantage of this procedure, as opposed to the conventional surgery,” Dr. Farag educates. “Debi’s gums were treated in about three hours, as opposed to multiple visits with the conventional surgery. This is faster and there’s less discomfort afterward.”

Keeping It Healthy

Dr. Farag emphasizes the importance of follow-up dental care after having extensive dental care.

“When we sit down and discuss treatment options for gum disease, I want to be assured by that patient that they are committed to taking care of their teeth,” he describes. “Patients need to be committed to keeping the teeth healthy long term in order for any treatment to be effective.”

Patients are encouraged to have their teeth cleaned regularly, brush and floss daily and be aware of any sudden changes to their oral health.

“In order to keep the gums healthy, people need to keep the teeth clean. That requires daily commitment,” Dr. Farag reiterates.

Debi says she has a renewed desire to maintain a healthy mouth now that the procedure is complete.

“Dr. Farag and the entire staff are personable and knowledgeable, and they make me feel confident. I know my teeth are healthy once again, and I want to keep them like that!”

Nick says he was amazed at the accuracy and ease of having his implants placed.

“I can chew again, and that makes such a difference,” he shares. “I’m no longer in pain or discomfort. Dr. Farag is really skilled, and I felt at ease with him. I feel confident in his care. I am really pleased with my results.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photos by Fred Bellet & Jordan Pysz. Surgery photo courtesy of Port Charlotte Dental Care.

Help for Hereditary Hearing Loss

Jeff Jensen has struggled with his hearing since his mid 20s. A husband, father and business owner, Jeff says hereditary hearing loss has affected several generations in his family.

Jeff Jensen received hearing aids from Physician’s Choice Hearing & Dizziness Center.ç

Jeff has a much easier time
talking with clients since being fitted for hearing aids.

“It started on my dad’s side of the family,” Jeff shares. “My dad, my grandmother and great-grandmother all had hearing loss. I call it the trickle-down factor.

“My own struggle began around age twenty-five. I started asking people to repeat things a lot. By the time I was thirty, I got my first hearing aid in my right ear.”

Jeff says in the beginning, he was self-conscious about wearing a hearing aid.

“I hated people seeing it,” he shares. “I own a restoration business. We do fire, water, mold restoration, and biohazard as well, in homes and in businesses. I didn’t want to continue wearing a hearing aid that my employees and my clients can see. Not to mention, I lost it several times, too. It was just a big hassle. As soon as I sat down at a meeting or sat down at dinner, it would beep and my battery was dead. That never failed.

“One day, my wife heard about Lyric® hearing aids, which are placed inside of the ear and are very discreet. I did some research and found Physician’s Choice Hearing and Dizziness Center, so I made an appointment.” 

Perfect Fit at Any Age

Jeff Clark, AuD, along with audiologists Scott Sims, AuD, and Amanda King, AuD, strive to provide customers with the best service and products available.

“We get to know each patient and understand their needs before recommending a specific hearing device,” Dr. Clark says. “Not only will you have the best options for your hearing solution, but we offer convenient parking, comfortable exam rooms and we pride ourselves on being on time for appointments.”

Before hearing aids are recommended, new patients at Physician’s Choice Hearing undergo a complete diagnostic hearing evaluation. The evaluation helps determine the type of hearing loss, and the level at which a patient can detect and understand speech. Complete diagnostic evaluations typically take 30 to 40 minutes to complete and can be conducted on all age groups, from newborns to seniors.

“We like to take our time during these evaluations by conducting multiple tests, reviewing a patient’s complete medical history, including any medications they may be taking, and then determining the best course of action to address their needs,” describes Dr. Clark. “I take this time to personally get to know the patient and understand exactly what it is they are looking for in a hearing aid.”

Dr. Clark’s evaluation determined that Jeff suffers from severe congenital hearing loss, a loss in hearing present at birth. This can include hereditary hearing loss or hearing loss due to other factors present either in utero (prenatal) or at the time of birth.

“Jeff’s hearing loss is definitely genetic, so we knew how it began,” Dr. Clark explains. “He is a younger patient and he also owns his own business, so interacting with people on a daily basis is an environment in which he needs to have perfect hearing. His livelihood depends on being able to hear the people around him. After much discussion, we decided that he needed a device that is small and discreet that requires little to no maintenance. That’s why we chose Lyric hearing aids.”

Lyric is a new hearing technology that is not only tiny and invisible, but also delivers exceptional sound quality without daily hassles. It is positioned completely inside the ear canal, using the ear’s natural anatomy to funnel sound to the eardrum. The unique design and placement help reduce background noise and provide natural sound quality.

There are no batteries to change, no maintenance is needed and no daily insertion or removal.

“You can shower with them in, participate in sporting activities, even sleep,” Dr. Clark assures. “We typically see patients every six to eight weeks, and they get a new pair. They are disposable, just like disposable contact lenses. They are ideal for any age, young or older. And the sound quality is amazing.”

Jeff Jensen received hearing aids from Physician’s Choice Hearing & Dizziness Center.ç

The Lyric Hearing Aid is tiny and invisible.

Amazing New Sounds

Jeff is truly amazed at the sounds he now hears that he was once missing out on.

“It’s funny because when I first had them put in, I asked my wife, Is there something wrong with my truck? I could hear it like I never heard it before,” he describes. “My daughter would cry and I would jokingly tell my wife, I understand when people say a child’s cry is something that cuts right through you.

“I can hear music on the radio so clearly. And as a business owner, I no longer have to worry about not hearing my clients and my employees in noisy environments, which I am in most of the day.”

Jeff says he would highly recommend Physician’s Choice Hearing & Dizziness Center to anyone needing a hearing evaluation.

“Most people just ignore hearing loss or act as if it does not exist, especially younger people,” he says. “I did that for several years before caving in to what I already suspected was there. I didn’t want to accept hearing loss, but it was my reality, and there’s no reason with today’s technology that you have to live with it.”

Jeff sings the praises of Dr. Clark and his staff.

“The overall experience was wonderful,” he recalls. “Dr. Clark took his time with me when it came to testing my hearing and when determining which hearing aids would suit me best. I am thankful for that kind of attention to detail.

“It’s been an absolutely wonderful change. These are amazing hearing aids!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Fred Bellet. Graphic courtesy of Phonak Marketing.

Bladeless Cataract Removal

Jeanne Chase has worn eyeglasses as far back as grade school. She can’t really remember a time when she did not need them.Jeanne Chase and Marie Amato both had cataracts removed and their astigmatism corrected by David Hall, MD, at Pasadena Eye Center.

“I’ve had poor vision my whole life,” Jeanne shares. “I had really thick glasses when I was a kid.

I’ve always had to wear them as far back as I can recall. All day, every day.”

Jeanne says she has always been faithful in having her annual vision exams to check for any kind of eye-related diseases and to maintain her eyewear prescriptions.

In recent years, however, Jeanne admits she has become increasingly concerned as her vision has worsened, even with her eyeglasses on.

“I had trouble seeing near and far, no matter what environment I was in and with my glasses on,” Jeanne recalls. “I recite a lot of scriptures at church, and I couldn’t read the words in the book as clearly as I once could. If I was reading a newspaper, I had to have it up really close to my face in order to see the words. Things were just getting worse every day. My vision at night was awful, too. It eventually got so bad I just could not drive at night.”

Married to her husband, George, for 44 years, Jeanne decided to heed his advice and seek the expertise of David E. Hall, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Pasadena Eye Center.

“George has been a patient of Dr. Hall’s for well over a decade,” Jeanne recalls. “George has glaucoma, and a specialist he saw at the University of Iowa recommended Dr. Hall. That’s how we first met him.”

Jeanne suspected her declining vision was the result of cataracts.

When cataracts develop, it becomes increasingly difficult to read, especially in low-light situations. In addition, people describe a variety of symptoms, including the need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions and a loss in the vibrancy of colors.

Jeanne was experiencing many of these indicators.

“A few years ago, George had his own cataracts removed by Dr. Hall,” Jeanne recalls. “And he complained of the same symptoms of blurred vision, not being able to see well at night and those kinds of things. So, I knew what the warning signs were. I saw how successful his own surgery was, so I naturally made the decision to see Dr. Hall.”

Following a thorough evaluation of her eyes, Dr. Hall confirmed that she did, indeed, need to have cataracts removed.

“Jeanne described difficulty seeing in multiple situations with her glasses on,” Dr. Hall describes. “She also described difficulty when driving at night, especially with glare from oncoming headlights. After examining her eyes, I determined that it was time for her to have cataract surgery.”

Dr. Hall adds that Jeanne had a large amount of astigmatism. Astigmatism is a result of irregular corneal shape that can distort vision at all distances.

As a result, Dr. Hall chose to use the femtosecond laser to remove Jeanne’s cataracts.

Pinpoint Accuracy

The femtosecond (bladeless) laser surgery is the most technologically advanced cataract surgery in patients with astigmatism. The laser provides unmatched accuracy, as each procedure is customized to the individual’s eye.

“With the femtosecond laser-assisted tool, a laser makes the incisions, both at the surface of the eye and inside the eye, and it is always a precise, flawless cut,” Dr. Hall explains. “What the femtosecond laser does is create a curved incision on the cornea – an arc – depending on how much astigmatism there is. We refer to it as an LRIlimbal relaxing incision. Basically, the incision is eighty percent of the thickness of the cornea, and it relaxes the curve of the cornea. This helps reshape the cornea.”

The femtosecond laser then divides the cataract into segments that are removed. The surgery is performed much more quickly and accurately with the laser. Overall, the femtosecond laser leaves patients with sharper vision and less dependence on glasses in the future.

Red Spectacles

Much the same as Jeanne, Marie Amato had worn eyeglasses since elementary school. In fact, she remembers her first pair of glasses being red in color.

Jeanne Chase and Marie Amato both had cataracts removed and their astigmatism corrected by David Hall, MD, at Pasadena Eye Center.

Marie is back on the court and leading an active lifestyle.

“I failed the eye exam that they gave you back in second grade,” Marie says. “I remember going to get my first pair of glasses and they were red, and as cute as they were on me, I always hated wearing them. In high school, I got contact lenses, and several years ago, I started wearing progressive lenses.

“My glasses were literally attached to me,” Marie says. “They were the last thing I took off at night and the first thing I put on in the morning. I could not see the clock across the room without them on.”

A retired nurse, Marie and her husband enjoy an active lifestyle near their St. Petersburg home. They enjoy the outdoors and spend time playing tennis, swimming, and even scuba diving.

In recent years, Marie says she had increased difficulty with glare both during the day and at night.

“I saw halos at night,” Marie recalls. “And during the day, the sunlight was awful on my eyes. I had so much glare I could barely see driving. That is what pushed me to get help.”

And, just like Jeanne, Marie’s husband was also a patient of Dr. Hall’s at Pasadena Eye Center.

“My husband was a patient there before me,” she shares. “I am so thankful I knew who to turn to.”

Dr. Hall says that after examining Marie, he determined that cataracts were the culprit.

“Marie also had astigmatism, much like Jeanne, but not to the same degree,” Dr. Hall explains. “But, I also performed Marie’s cataract surgery using the femtosecond laser. It really worked out perfectly for her.”

Abundant Choices

Cataract surgery generally takes less than 15 minutes to perform. Including preparation and post-op observation, the stay at the surgery center is about 90 minutes. The vision may be blurry for the first few days, but is nearly always much better within a few weeks.

It is routine for patients to have intraocular lens (IOL) implants after cataract removal. “Based on the health of the eye and factors determined in the exam, we discuss lens and surgical options with the patient and decide which lenses to use,” Dr. Hall explains. “We have many options to choose from that will suit the needs and long-term goals of the individual.”

Monofocal lens: These lenses are the most commonly implanted lenses today. They have equal power in all regions of the lens and can provide high-quality distance vision, usually with only a light pair of spectacles. Monofocal lenses are in sharpest focus at only one distance. They do not correct pre-existing astigmatism, a result of irregular corneal shape that can distort vision at all distances. People with significant astigmatism require corrective lenses to have the sharpest vision at all distances. Patients who have monofocal intraocular lenses implanted usually require reading glasses.

Multifocal lens: Multifocal intraocular lenses are one of the latest advancements in lens technology. These lenses have a variety of regions with different powers that allow individuals to see at distance, intermediate and near ranges. While promising, multifocal lenses are not for everyone. They can cause significantly more glare than monofocal or toric lenses.

Toric lens: Toric lenses have more power in one specific region in the lens to correct astigmatism as well as distance vision. Due to the difference in lens power in different areas, the correction of astigmatism with a toric lens requires that the lens be positioned in a very specific configuration. While toric lenses can improve distance vision and astigmatism, the patient still will require corrective lenses for all near tasks, such as reading or writing.Jeanne Chase and Marie Amato both had cataracts removed and their astigmatism corrected by David Hall, MD, at Pasadena Eye Center.

Considering the Lifestyle

When consulting with Jeanne, Dr. Hall recommended the toric lens.

“The toric lens is made of soft acrylic plastic, which allows it to stay in place and not move,” he explains. “This is critical in its functionality and dependability. It is perfect for Jeanne in repairing her distance vision, which is what she wanted to focus on. She still needs readers to see up close.”

Removing cataracts with the femtosecond laser does not necessarily fully correct the astigmatism, Dr. Hall explains, in patients with extreme astigmatism.

The femtosecond laser changes the shape of the eye and corrects the astigmatism at the same time. This laser was made specifically for cataract patients with astigmatism.

“The toric lens is the perfect lens for someone with the extreme amount of astigmatism Jeanne had,” Dr. Hall explains. “The surgery did repair the majority of that astigmatism, but there is a small amount remaining. This is the perfect lens for her in that situation.

“As for Marie, we chose the ReSTOR® lens, which is a multifocal lens,” he continues. “It allows Marie to see clearly from a wide range of distances, and it was the best option for her. As a result, Marie is glasses free.”

Marie says she is thrilled with her vision since her surgery and is more than happy to say she no longer needs glasses to help her see.

“I can play tennis without contacts in and it’s great,” she raves. “I can’t believe how clear the world around me is. It is clearer than I ever could have imagined. It had been so long since I could see this well. Colors are so much more vibrant and beautiful. And, I think my tennis game is even better now than it was before!”

Jeanne says she no longer struggles to read at church or see when driving at night.

“I can participate at church and not feel embarrassed when reading in front of others,” she says with confidence. “I had trouble seeing on the computer before, and now I can see without straining my eyes.

“I am very thankful to Dr. Hall and glad I took my husband’s advice and chose Pasadena Eye Center!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Photos and graphic from

In Capable Hands

A father trusts his daughter to perform his cataract surgery.

A seasoned world traveler, Al Kostick has visited all seven continents. Among the many unique and intriguing places whose borders he has crossed include Antarctica, Australia, South Africa, Europe, China, Singapore, Thailand, England, the South Pacific and the Sahara Desert. He’s also been on two cruises around the world.

Alexandra Kostick of Atlantic Eye Center performs cataract surgery on her father, Alexander Kostick.

Mr. Kostick and his daughter, Dr. Kostick, give a thumbs up now that his cataracts are gone.

A pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force for 43 years, Mr. Kostick says humanitarian missions took him to places like Northern Canada and the Arctic, including the North Pole.

“I’ve led a very fortunate life, and I am grateful for the travel experiences,” he says. “I still love to travel to this day. I haven’t slowed down much.”

In recent years, however, Mr. Kostick’s eyesight began to deteriorate.

Night driving became a daunting task, as he would close his left eye and use the right one to see. It became cumbersome for the crossword puzzle enthusiast to be able to complete puzzles. When at the gym, which he frequents daily, he could not read the closed captioning on the television screens.

For the last several years, Mr. Kostick has had annual eye exams conducted by his daughter, Alexandra Kostick, MD, at Atlantic Eye Center. During the exams, Dr. Kostick noticed the development of cataracts.

“I would drive with him in the car at night, and I could tell he was having problems seeing,” Dr. Kostick shares. “I told him that I wanted to have him come to the office right away so I could examine his eyes. I suspected the cataracts had worsened, and I was right.”

Instead of going to another surgeon to have the cataracts removed, Mr. Kostick trusted his eyesight to his daughter.

“I live in a condominium, and many of my neighbors there have gone to my daughter to have their cataracts removed, and they sing her praises,” Mr. Kostick says. “I knew who I wanted to do the surgery. Without a doubt, I wanted her to do it.”

But, Dr. Kostick wasn’t convinced.

“My initial thought was that one of my colleagues needed to do the surgery,” she explains. “He was insistent. He told me he would be disappointed if I did not do the surgery, and I couldn’t let him down. I finally agreed to do it.”

Daughter Knows Best

Cataracts are a gradual discoloration or clouding of the eye’s natural lens. People who have cataracts describe a variety of symptoms, including glare from oncoming headlights, a loss in the vibrancy of colors or the need for frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions. Some patients experience no symptoms, while others report them in various combinations.

During cataract surgery, a small incision – measuring about one-eighth of an inch in length – allows the introduction of a small, ultrasonic probe that applies sound waves to the cataract, emulsifying it so gentle suction can remove the debris from the tiny capsular sac that protects the lens, and the natural lens of the eye is removed.

“The size of the incision is important because a smaller incision will allow faster healing without the need for stitches,”
Dr. Kostick explains.

Initially, Mr. Kostick only planned to have the cataract removed from his left eye, as the cataract in his right eye was not as advanced.

“That was his plan at first,” Dr. Kostick recalls. “But, once he saw how perfect his vision was in that left eye, he decided he was going to have the right eye done as well. What happened over the years is that his right eye was overcompensating for what the left eye was unable to see. As a result of that strain, it made the vision much worse in the right eye. Worse than he ever thought until he had his left eye done and he could really see the difference.”

Dr. Kostick recommended monofocal lenses for her father, the most commonly used lenses today. Monofocal lenses have equal power in all regions of the lens and provide high-quality distance vision. People who have had monofocal intraocular lenses implanted usually require reading glasses.

“My dad still has his reading glasses, which is something he wanted,”
Dr. Kostick explains. “Now, he sees perfectly again. He is 20/20 in both eyes.”

Word of Mouth

Dr. Kostick says she prides herself on her staff’s commitment to patients and patient retention.

“I have patients who have seen me for years, and now I have seen their kids and even their grandkids at times,” she says. “It is a family unit in the office, and we extend that feeling to the patient. We don’t just take care of one patient; we take care of entire families.

“Many of our patients come to us through word of mouth, and that, I think, is an indication of our status in the community of being a respectable practice.

“Where my father lives, it is a condominium, and a lot of the residents there come to my office. It’s wonderful. He has seen first-hand how word of mouth can make a huge difference.”

Dr. Kostick reaffirms that the eye care specialists at Atlantic Eye Center truly care about the well-being of their patients and their care.

“Each patient is unique, and we know that,” Dr. Kostick assures. “We treat each one as an individual and with a personalized approach. We don’t put patients on a conveyor belt and push them through the clinic. We take the time to talk with them and recognize their wants and needs. We are compassionate about the care we administer as a team.”

Today, Mr. Kostick sees perfectly and has no problems driving at night or working on his crossword puzzles. He continues to travel to far off places now and then.

“I still love flying and going to different places,” he assures. “I am glad my daughter agreed to do my surgery. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, and she knew it. I couldn’t trust my eyes to anyone else.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Graphic from

Family-Focused Care

Charles and Jean Barney enjoy taking summer road trips in their RV, traveling to see family in Pennsylvania and Texas and anywhere else the road happens to take them on their journeys.

Husband and wife, Charles and Jean Barney, both had successful cataract surgery at Premier Eye Clinic.

Charles and Jean love to travel the country pulling their RV.

“I was a truck driver for forty-one years,” Charles says. “I’ve been all over and seen nothing,” he jokes. “Now that I am retired, Jean and I enjoy getting in the RV and taking the road to nowhere, as I like to call it.”

Being able to see the road and read road signs are vital when it comes to driving, especially on long trips and when driving at night. In recent months, Charles’ eyesight became difficult in his left eye.

A few years ago, Charles had a cataract removed from that eye. During the surgery, his retina became detached. He lived with the consequence for a time before seeking treatment.

“Things got pretty bad with my eyesight,” he recalls. “There was always a blur in that eye. My vision just seemed foggy a lot of the time. Driving became an issue, and I didn’t want to give up driving. So, a friend of mine recommended Dr. Ge at Premier Eye Clinic. I wasn’t happy with the surgeon who I had gone to previously because I felt like a number, and I didn’t like that at all. It felt like an assembly line. I was looking for more personable care.

“I decided to take my friend’s advice, and I made an appointment to see what Dr. Ge could do to help.”

Charles consulted with Q. Jocelyn Ge, MD, at Premier Eye Clinic. After examining Charles, Dr. Ge determined that he did, indeed, have a torn retina and sent him to a specialist for further consultation.

“She confirmed right away what was wrong and knew who to send me to,” Charles confirms. “That was what impressed me about her from the start. She never tried to sell me anything. She never lied to me, and she took her time when talking with me. She did what was best for me and listened to my concerns. I wasn’t just a number.”

Once his retina healed, Charles returned to Dr. Ge to have a cataract in his right eye removed.

“I trusted her, and I knew I wanted her to do the surgery to remove the cataract,” he says. “I have absolute confidence in her.”

When Jean needed cataract surgery, she, too, went to Dr. Ge.

“I had a cataract in my left eye removed about two years ago with the femtosecond laser because I also had astigmatism in that eye,” Jean recalls. “And just a few months ago, I had a cataract in the right eye removed with traditional cataract surgery.

“The best thing about Dr. Ge is her bedside manner,” Jean shares. “It’s remarkable to me the generations of family members she has helped. Her caring and compassionate personality really helps her connect with people.

“She is also knowledgeable and patient. Charles has glaucoma, and she sent him to a specialist for that. She is thorough with her exams and skilled in what she does. I send everyone I know to her.”

All In the Family

Dr. Ge and her staff pride themselves on providing dependable and reliable care to generations of patients.

“Quality patient care,” she explains, “is about more than just skill and knowledge. It is about forming relationships, understanding patient needs and providing care to family members: husbands, wives, parents, sons and daughters.”

Dr. Ge and her team provide a comfortable, family-friendly environment at Premier Eye Clinic. They understand the importance of getting to know their patients on a personal level.

“We put our patients first,” Dr. Ge continues. “People feel comfortable and safe coming here. That is our goal and that is why we have so many family members who come to see us. When we do good work for a husband or a wife, they send other members of the family to us. It’s a testament to our practice.”

Dr. Ge adds that understanding the needs of the individual also enables her to customize the treatment plan for her patients. Her practice stays up-to-date on the latest knowledge and technology available today. These latest technologies provide patients more treatment options than ever before. Understanding a patient’s lifestyle and vision needs helps to individualize the treatment plan and select the best option available.

We are always learning new and innovative procedures to provide the best care.

On the Road Again

Dr. Ge says she could see a change in Charles’ demeanor once his cataract was removed and his retina was repaired.

“Charles was a bit down on himself when he first came to see me, but now he has the sparkle back in his eye,” Dr. Ge adds. “That is what makes my job so gratifying.

“People bring their spouses, siblings, cousins to me,” she continues. “It is very rewarding to be able to help families regain their ability to see clearly. I work to resolve a specific problem and get people back to living their lives once again.”

Charles and Jean are headed to Pennsylvania soon for a family wedding. They look forward to hitting the open road once again in the RV.

“Just glad I can see clearly again, thanks to Dr. Ge,” Charles says. “She is wonderful. I am so glad we found her.”

Jean agrees and says she is glad she followed the footsteps of her husband and went to see Dr. Ge for her vision needs.

“I could see how pleased Charles was with the outcome of his surgery and the care that Dr. Ge gave to him. I was impressed. The decision for me to go to her was just natural. I’m glad I did. She’s wonderful.”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphics from

Straighten Up

Both young and old can benefit from Invisalign®.

Appearances tend to change as we age. Glancing in the mirror, you may notice fine lines setting in or gray hairs multiplying.

Patricia Homa underwent Invisalign® to straighten her teeth under the care of Dr. Stephen Blank in Port St. Lucie.

Patricia is happy with the results of her Invisalign treatment.

When Patricia Homa looked in the mirror in recent years, she wasn’t happy with the image smiling back at her.

“I had braces as a child, back in my middle school years, and I was thrilled with the results that were achieved with my teeth back then,” she recalls. “But, I noticed recently that my teeth started shifting a lot. There were large gaps forming between teeth, and the overbite I had as a young kid seemed to be coming back.

“I’ve always taken care of my teeth and have been diligent when it comes to cleanings, so when the movement started to happen, I was willing to do anything to get them back to normal, even if that meant wearing metal braces again.”

A full-time caregiver for her elderly mother, Patricia says she started looking for a dentist close to home.

“My dentist at that time was an hour drive away. With taking care of my mom all day, I just could not do that anymore. I needed someone closer.

“One day, luckily for me, I read an article in Florida Health Care News about Dr. Blank, and I thought I would give him a try.”

Patricia made an appointment to see Stephen G. Blank, DDS, in Port St. Lucie.

Make a Plan

Before any treatment plan began, Patricia underwent in-depth testing and evaluations performed by Dr. Blank and his staff during her initial visit. The 1.5-hour exam included a complete oral examination, including TMJ, bite and soft tissue evaluations; computerized periodontal measurements, digital x-rays and more.

“It’s not your typical five-minute dental exam,” relays Dr. Blank. “The purpose is to build a good dental relationship for years to come that will allow patients to achieve the best oral health possible and, with proper care, maintain that level of health for a lifetime.”

Dr. Blank’s willingness to embrace the latest leading-edge technology is further indicative of his commitment to care and investment in each patient.

“We’re always learning and implementing the latest technologies and procedures to ensure our patients receive the best possible oral health,” he assures.

Align Right

After her evaluation and consultation with Dr. Blank, Patricia opted for Invisalign, a system that works to straighten teeth over a period of months using a series of virtually invisible, removable, plastic aligners.

“In Patricia’s case, we used Invisalign Express, which doesn’t take as long as the regular Invisalign,” Dr. Blank explains. “Her case was less complicated, so it involved just twenty weeks of aligners. In comparison, the traditional Invisalign treatment plan can take between twelve and eighteen months.”

Invisalign works in stages, and patients get a new set of customized aligners about every two weeks. Each set gradually moves the teeth to the specifications prescribed by the dentist.

“When we prescribe Invisalign, we treat the top and bottom because they fit together like the gears on a watch,” he explains. “If we need to make room for crowded bottom teeth, we need to move the upper teeth just a bit as well.”

Compared to more traditional orthodontics, Invisalign doesn’t require metal or porcelain brackets, or wires, which can irritate lips and gums. The aligners are removable and virtually invisible, so patients can continue to eat their favorite foods and practice proper oral hygiene.

“Patients love Invisalign because they can take the aligners out when they eat, and when they brush and floss. It’s much easier to perform those everyday tasks than with traditional braces,” Dr. Blank says.

Perfect Smile

Dr. Blank stresses that though many cosmetic dental procedures help patients’ smiles look better, Invisalign is also instrumental in improving function and preventing further dental damage.Patricia Homa underwent Invisalign® to straighten her teeth under the care of Dr. Stephen Blank in Port St. Lucie.

“Patricia was a grinder and she also clenched her teeth at night,” Dr. Blank shares. “With those two habits combined, especially, there is bound to be movement with the teeth. And, those two habits can also cause extensive damage.”

Left untreated, misaligned teeth can lead to long-term dental damage.

“When teeth are rotated or moved, they bump into each other differently than they would if they were properly aligned,” explains Dr. Blank. “People don’t notice it because it’s their bite. It’s what they have always had, and they are used to it.

“When we’re able to make the teeth fit together properly, functionally they don’t cause each other to wear out. They work in harmony instead of in conflict with one another.”

Dr. Blank stresses the importance of wearing retainers after orthodontic treatment.

“Whether it’s traditional braces or Invisalign, it is vital that patients understand retainers are for life,” he explains. “They must wear their retainers every day, and most patients prefer to sleep with them on, in order to maintain the teeth in a specific position. For Patricia, nighttime wear is best as this will stop her from grinding and clenching her teeth.”

Dr. Blank says treatment with Invisalign is appropriate for patients of all ages, from teenagers on up. “There’s no age restriction on doing Invisalign,” he says. “The only caveat is that the patient has healthy bone structure and a good overall dental foundation that supports tooth movement.”

Patricia says she has a lifelong appreciation for straight teeth.

“I’ve always been aware of my smile since I was a young child,” she shares. “When I got older and I saw them moving and becoming crooked and overlapped, I immediately knew I had to fix them.

“I am blessed to have found Dr. Blank. He is caring and is never pushy about anything. I actually look forward to going to his office! His staff is great, too. I think he does great work!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Stock photo from

Got Leg Pain?

Be wary of the symptoms that could indicate peripheral arterial disease.

The pain in Susan Mallory’s left leg was so intense it often left her barely able to walk and get around.

Susan Mallory was treated for peripheral arterial disease in the new surgical suite at Vascular Interventional & Vein Associates.

Susan takes walks around her neighborhood without the help of a cane.

“The pain was intense from the top of my leg all the way down to the bottom,” she asserts. “I let it go as long as I could. Doctors told me I had osteoarthritis in my hip and that I needed a hip replacement. They told me the pain in my leg was associated with the osteoarthritis.”

The pain was something Susan learned to deal with for several years. When grocery shopping or at a mall, she would use a cane to alleviate the weight on her left side.

“I went to a pain management doctor and started pain relief injections; that lasted a while. Then, I noticed something peculiar started happening.”

Susan noticed swelling and black and blue marks around her left ankle. The bruising caused her increased worry because she is a Type 2 diabetic. She also has high blood pressure, which was an added concern to her.

“There are too many things that can go wrong with diabetes as it is,” Susan says. “And with the high blood pressure also, I did not want to have a heart attack on top of everything else.

“I went back to the doctor I was seeing at the time, and he did some additional tests and diagnosed me with peripheral arterial disease [PAD],” she confirms. “He referred me to Dr. Ramdev.”

Susan scheduled an appointment to see Pranay T. Ramdev, MD, a board-certified vascular surgeon at Vascular Interventional & Vein Associates (VIVA), to discuss her treatment options.

Basics of PAD

Peripheral arterial disease is a common circulatory problem wherein narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, among others.

“This is not characterized by cramping at night when you are lying down,” Dr. Ramdev explains. “PAD symptoms only occur with activity, like walking. And the pain usually develops in the calves or thighs. This is exactly how and where Susan was affected.”

In patients with PAD, the legs don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with the demand, and this causes claudication, which was the case with Susan.

“When claudication starts, people usually develop discomfort in their calves when walking,” explains Dr. Ramdev, “caused by blockages in the arteries. We test for claudication by checking for a pulse in the foot. When we can’t feel a pulse there, we know the ‘plumbing’ is blocked up. We use ultrasound to identify the exact areas of blockage in the circulation. We can then treat the problem without major surgery.”

Dr. Ramdev recommended an outpatient procedure for Susan that involves placing stents in the iliac arteries – the arteries that run down both sides of the aortic valve. The iliac arteries provide blood flow to each leg. The stents are placed to open up those arteries and allow blood to flow properly.

“Susan underwent an atherectomy, which is when we basically cut away the plaque that is hardening the walls of the artery. Not every patient needs a stent placed, but we did place them for her. It helps to stretch and open up the artery.”

Dr. Ramdev says he is pleased to have been able to perform Susan’s procedure in his newly built, in-office vascular interventional suite. The suite is designed to provide patients with a comfortable, relaxed surgical atmosphere combined with the latest medical advancements.Susan Mallory was treated for peripheral arterial disease in the new surgical suite at Vascular Interventional & Vein Associates.

“Instead of sending patients to a hospital for a procedure that requires extended stays, I chose to build a suite here in my office where I can perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures in a day,” explains Dr. Ramdev. “It is much more convenient for the patient, who is then able to go home and begin their recovery that same day.”

Connecting with Patients

“In addition to providing patients with the latest technological advancements in arterial procedures, it is just as important to me that I connect with my patients,” emphasizes Dr. Ramdev. “I treat all my patients like family, because kindness and compassion are so important. You can have technical success with a procedure, but the patient’s experience is enhanced by the excellent care they receive.”

Dr. Ramdev goes out of his way to spend quality time with his patients, ensuring they have a thorough understanding of the disease process and the treatment options.

“I want people to feel they have full knowledge of what is going on inside their bodies,”
Dr. Ramdev educates. “The more they know, the less daunting the process seems.”

Susan says she is walking now without pain and feels like she has her life back.

“I owe so much to Dr. Ramdev and his staff,” Susan asserts. “They are caring and compassionate, and Dr. Ramdev thoroughly explained everything to me. He took his time, and I appreciate that kind of detail from a doctor.

“I feel better than I have in a long time!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Graphic from Before and after images courtesy of Vascular Interventional & Vein Associates.

Rebuilding Smiles

This husband and wife found a dentist they can trust.

When Mark Wilson was looking for a reputable dentist near his Umatilla home, he had reservations about almost every one he researched.

Mark and Patricia Wilson had crowns, bridges and dentures placed by Shridhar Reddy Sagili, DDS, at Lake Advanced Dentistry in Lady Lake.

Mark and Patricia are thrilled with the care they have received from Dr. Sagili and his staff.

“The last dentist I went to couldn’t seem to address my dental issues the way I needed him to,” Mark recalls. “I had one tooth in particular that they literally did not know what to do with. They couldn’t figure out if they wanted to put a crown on it, pull it or what. I was frustrated, so when I decided to look for a new dentist, I had a longstanding fear of running into a similar situation. It can be difficult to find a reputable dentist and trust them to do the work you need done. I needed more issues fixed than just one tooth. I had other broken teeth, cracked teeth and I really just did not like my smile. I desperately wanted to fix it.”

Mark’s wife, Patricia, helped him along in his search, as she, too, needed some dental concerns addressed.

“I had an old denture up top; it was probably twenty-five years old, and it was broken and needed to be redone,” Patricia describes. “I couldn’t eat the food I wanted to eat. It was somewhat painful, and I had a hard time keeping the denture in. It was getting worse and worse. I needed to have it replaced. I also needed several crowns and some bridges done.

“I read comments about Dr. Sagili in Florida Health Care News. He sounded reputable, and people had good things to say about him. So, I thought we could give him a try.”

Mark and Patricia consulted with Shridhar Reddy Sagili, DDS, of Lake Advanced Dentistry in Lady Lake.

“With every patient, we perform a comprehensive evaluation during that initial appointment so we can see and understand the needs of the patient,”
Dr. Sagili explains.

“Then, we recommend treatment options and discuss the pros and cons of each. When talking with Mark and Patricia, I listened to their concerns and long-term desires about their oral health. We devised a specific plan to give each of them the best value for their investment.”

From Bridges to Crowns

According to Dr. Sagili, Mark had bridges placed up top, two bridges on the bottom and several teeth crowned. The bridges are secured with crowns on the adjacent teeth.

Dr. Sagili further explains that placing crowns and bridges are two of the most common procedures performed in a dental practice.

“The main reason people need crowns, including Mark, is because of the pressure they put on their teeth,” explains Dr. Sagili. “Over time, it’s like driving a wedge every time they bite down. When they clench, they put little cracks in the teeth, and the teeth can decay because of the cracks; but more importantly, they can fracture.”

If the tooth fractures or if it looks like it has the potential to fracture, the dentist might place a crown on it to protect and restore it. Most of the dental crowns used today are made from very high-strength cosmetic porcelains that are extremely durable and lasting.

“All teeth can be crowned, but not all teeth necessarily need to be crowned,” educates Dr. Sagili. “Crowns are mainly used on the posterior teeth, where the biting forces are straight up and down. On the anterior teeth, crowns don’t really strengthen these teeth. The reason for crowning the anterior teeth may be more cosmetic.

“Another situation where a crown might be used is if there are already large fillings, where the tooth is not going to support any more fillings. A tooth can only support a certain amount of filling, which is usually somewhere around a quarter of the tooth.

In addition to supporting failing teeth, crowns can also be used to improve the appearance of worn, chipped or broken teeth, he explains. The porcelains used for crowns look remarkably like natural teeth and can be color-matched to the patient’s other teeth. In this way, crowns are used to restore a patient’s failing smile.

“On the other hand, a bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth by joining an artificial tooth permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants,” Dr. Sagili explains. “This was the case with Mark, where we replaced most of his upper front teeth with a bridge across the front and one in the back. They are attached to adjoining teeth, as he had no implants placed.”

Sleep While They Work

In addition to replacing her upper denture, Patricia also needed to have implants and crowns placed on the lower mandible.

Dental implants are metal anchors implanted in the jawbone to hold replacement teeth in place. The root sits in the jawbone below the gum line and the visible tooth, or crown, is attached to it. Implants support individual artificial teeth, bridges and dentures, and look and feel much like natural teeth.

“Patricia was missing teeth in the back on the bottom, so implant supported crowns were the option we chose for her,” Dr. Sagili explains. “The implants offer a lifetime, stable support for the crowns.”

After consulting with Dr. Sagili prior to the procedure, Patricia opted to undergo conscious intravenous sedation while Dr. Sagili did the work.

Dr. Sagili explains that conscious intravenous sedation, like that offered at Lake Advanced Dentistry, does not put patients completely to sleep. Rather, they are placed in a state called twilight sleep. Patients are conscious enough to follow instructions, such as being asked to turn their head, but typically don’t remember anything later. The sedative is administered through an IV, and unlike general anesthesia or deep sedation, there is no airway tube involved.

“Conscious IV sedation is a very safe, comfortable and reliable way to undergo minor treatment,” assures Dr. Sagili. “It masks any pain from the treatment and is especially useful for patients who typically experience high levels of anxiety when faced with the prospect of someone working in their mouth.

“The staff monitors what they put in the IV and how much is administered,” he adds. “They also monitor the patient’s blood pressure and other vital signs during sedation.

“I’m happy to provide this service to patients. It benefits patients that we can provide this, and we make sure it is affordable to them. Affordability is important to us and to the patient.”

Dr. Sagili also replaced Patricia’s failing upper denture using digital technology.

“When creating the digital denture, all of the patient’s impressions are put into the scanner and uploaded into the computer,” he explains. “Then, the computer itself fabricates the denture based on those exact impressions. It’s really quite remarkable and very advanced. I am fortunate to have this technology for my patients.”

Chairside Manner

Mark and Patricia agree that Dr. Sagili is one of the best dentists they have ever been to.

“I have had some bad experiences in the past with other dentists,” Mark relays. “It is reassuring to go to a professional, like Dr. Sagili, and be made to feel like family. His entire staff is amazing and make you feel relaxed and at ease. They provide top-notch care to their patients.

“I recommend Dr. Sagili to anyone who has suffered a bad experience in the past or feels like they can’t trust a dentist,” Mark continues. “I felt very apprehensive before meeting him and before I had any work done. Now, I feel the exact opposite of that. As soon as I met him and spoke with him, I was reassured and felt a sense of relief.”

Patricia says she is more than pleased with the steps Dr. Sagili has taken to vastly improve both her and Mark’s oral health.

“Dr. Sagili is the absolute best,” she raves. “He is one of the most knowledgeable dentists I have ever been to, and his staff is really caring and helpful.”

Patricia says dental appointments are something she and Mark look forward to, rather than shy away from.

“Dr. Sagili is a true professional,” Patricia says. “I am thrilled with the work I have had done and especially the denture I have now. I can smile and laugh and not worry about my teeth falling out. It’s a sense of security I did not have for a long time. Dr. Sagili gave me that confidence back, and I feel great about it!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Knee Pain Relief and More

Innovative therapy relieves chronic osteoarthritis pain.

Teresa Carlos has suffered from chronic pain for decades. A retired factory worker, she spent years lifting heavy boxes and cargo while living and working in California. Eventually, Teresa suffered damage to the discs in her back. The weakness in her back subsequently contributed to her developing osteoarthritis in her knees.

Teresa Carlos received injection therapy for osteoarthritis at Synergy Medical in Bradenton.

Teresa can bend much easier now after

“A chiropractor I was seeing for my back years ago in California told me that because of the weakness in my back, my knees had a hard time keeping my body upright, so eventually I developed osteoarthritis as well. My body is just a mess,” she says with a laugh. “I walked with a cane because I could not stand straight, and I needed something to lean on.”

Sometimes called degenerative joint disease or wear and tear arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints. It occurs when the cartilage, or cushion between joints, breaks down, leading to pain, stiffness and swelling.

Teresa and her husband moved from the west coast of the United States to Palm Coast in 1997.

“My husband died in 2016, and now I live in Bradenton with my daughter and grandson,” Teresa says.

The nagging pain from the osteoarthritis in her knees kept Teresa from enjoying her retirement. She describes her pain level as a six on a scale of one to ten.

“I had pain pretty much all the time because that’s just how arthritis is,” Teresa explains. “It was especially hard to get out of bed in the morning, and it took me a long time to walk anywhere. I had to use the cane all the time. It was hard to get up out of a chair or up from the sofa, too.”

Teresa’s daughter did some research and referred her mother to Synergy Medical to initially treat her back pain. Once there, Teresa was pleased to discover they offered so much more than back pain relief.


“When Teresa first came in to see us, she had multiple complaints, including back pain, neck pain and osteoarthritis in her knees,” explains Dawn Wright, NP-C, nurse practitioner, at Synergy Medical. “We have been treating her for all of those things. She came to us suffering from mild to moderate osteoarthritis.

“When I first spoke with Teresa, she would tell me, I want to be able to go to church again – to sit and enjoy the service and not be in pain. She said she wanted to walk freely without pain and be able to enjoy her grandchild.

“Initially, I put her in knee braces to help offload the weight from the knee joints,” Dawn continues. “Then, she began a series of the SUPARTZ FX injections for the knee pain from osteoarthritis. SUPARTZ FX along with rehab is part of our treatment program to reduce arthritic knee pain.

“I tell my patients that arthritis is like having a rusty hinge,” Dawn adds. “I describe the SUPARTZ FX as the oil that is going to lubricate those joints and decrease their pain.”

SUPARTZ FX is a nonsurgical injection therapy used to relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The solution is made of highly purified sodium hyaluronate, or HA. This is a natural chemical compound found in the body’s joint tissues. The body’s own HA works as a lubricant and shock absorber to produce healthy and functional joints.

SUPARTZ FX is ideal for patients, like Teresa, suffering from mild to moderate pain associated with osteoarthritis and is recommended for those trying to avoid knee surgery.

Relief can be experienced with the first injection and can last up to six months. The program typically includes three to five injections. The program can be repeated, if necessary.

No More Cane and Able Again

“I love taking care of people’s knees,” Dawn describes. “I think people find that to be an odd thing to say, but I have been doing this for many years, and I just love helping people feel better and move around better. My job is to restore function so patients can live fuller lives.”

Once the therapy is complete, Dawn recommends patients maintain a healthy diet; keep active with low-impact exercise, such as biking or swimming or walking; and incorporate strength exercises into their routines.

“They are fantastic, and I was amazed at all of the services they offer there. They are not just a back pain clinic. They have so much to offer!”Teresa

“These processes will help the injection therapy last longer and only help to continue to strengthen the knee joints,” Dawn assures.

Teresa says she is thrilled with the progress she has made and is amazed at how much better her knees are feeling.

Dawn emphasizes the various services available at Synergy Medical, including trigger point injections, rehab, spinal decompression, B12 injections, physical therapy, weight loss and chiropractic.

“We strive to go above and beyond to find the source of the pain and suggest and implement a solution that restores the person’s quality of life,” Dawn relays. “We believe in the body’s power to heal itself. Our treatment plans revolve around a whole-health mentality, meaning that we treat the whole patient, not just the source of pain. The human body is a complex yet magnificent machine. We treat the body as a whole system, understanding that all of the parts work together.”

Teresa says she is delighted with the service and professionalism she has received.

“Dawn is very supportive and has helped me tremendously,” Teresa attests. “She’s been absolutely wonderful!”

Teresa highly recommends Synergy Medical to anyone needing physical medicine or chiropractic care for pain relief.

“They are fantastic, and I was amazed at all of the services they offer there. They are not just a back pain office. They have so much to offer!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Fred Bellet. Graphic from

Periodontal Perfection

Karyn Zervos has a keen natural instinct, especially when it comes to her teeth and gums.

A few years ago, Karyn began experiencing bleeding and inflammation in the area surrounding a dental implant that was placed years earlier.

Karyn Zervos was treated for peri-implantitis at Periodontal Health Center, with offices in Tampa and New Port Richey.

Karyn is happy to have healthy gums.

“I think a piece of popcorn got stuck underneath it,” Karyn laments. “I eventually dislodged whatever it was and thought all was fine. I went for years never knowing there was an underlying issue. I brush and floss twice a day. I know I need to keep the area clean, and I was religious about doing so.

“A few years ago, my gums started to bleed in that area after I brushed. It was sore, but only if you pushed on the gumline with the toothbrush.

“I knew instinctively that what I was experiencing was not normal,” Karyn continues. “I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but had a feeling it was linked to the implant itself. I was worried.”

Karyn returned to the oral surgeon who placed her implant.

“At first, I was prescribed an antibiotic to see if that would clear it up, but it did not help,” she recalls. “They weren’t sure if it was the bone underneath or the gum itself. That’s when I was sent to Periodontal Health Center.”

What Is Peri-Implantitis?

After an examination and x-rays, Jessica Stilley, DMD, of Periodontal Health Center, diagnosed Karyn with peri-implantitis.

Peri-implantitis is a disease that affects the bone surrounding a dental implant. The condition causes bone loss and infection of the surrounding gum tissue. Peri-implantitis can occur for several reasons, including lack of general dental care, poor oral hygiene, retained cement residue underneath the crown, smoking, diabetes and even the shape of the crown versus the shape of the tooth.

“In Karyn’s case, it was difficult for her to keep the area clean because of the shape of the crown versus the shape of her tooth,” explains Dr. Stilley. “Implants are cylindrical and natural teeth are not. In some cases, the foundation of the crown has a different shape than how the tooth is anatomically built. This is what happened with Karyn. It had nothing to do with her oral hygiene.”

As with traditional periodontal disease, early diagnosis is the key to saving the dental implant and returning the mouth to a complete state of health.

Peri-implantitis can present with swelling of the infected area, bleeding of the gums  when brushing or flossing, and even drainage in the area around the implant itself.

Oftentimes, however, the patient incurs little to no pain and likely has no idea there is an underlying issue, such as in Karyn’s case.

“Most often, the condition is discovered during a routine dental exam,” says Dr. Stilley. “In extreme cases, an implant could become loose, and that can be how a patient becomes aware there is a more serious issue. It really can go on for years, however, without the patient even knowing. This is one reason why annual oral exams are so important.”

LAPIP to the Rescue

Dr. Stilley used LAPIP (Laser-Assisted
Peri-Implantitis Procedure) to treat the infected gums surrounding Karyn’s implant. LAPIP is a noninvasive procedure that uses the PerioLase® MVP-7™ laser to target the bacteria that cause periodontal disease. After treatment is complete, the soft tissue around the implant is then able to heal and repair itself.

Prior to her procedure, Karyn was presented with the option of removing the crown, treating the infected area and then replacing the crown, or she could choose to keep the crown in place and clean around it.

“I chose to have the crown removed and redone,” Karyn shares. “Because the area was in the back of my mouth, I felt removing the crown was the best way to proceed.”

While LAPIP is noninvasive, Dr. Stilley notes that more extreme cases of peri-implantitis call for more invasive procedures.

“In some cases, the laser cannot be used,” she educates. “Every case is
specific. As long as the implant itself is not loose, we can likely treat it with one of the available treatment options.”

Dr. Stilley says Karyn’s gums are back to normal now, and she is
completely healed.

“Fortunately, Karyn’s case was typical of what most patients present with when an issue is caught early enough,” she explains. “Her crown is replaced now, and she is completely healed.”

Normal Again

Karyn says she is back to spending her winters in Florida and summers with family in Greece. Now that her oral health is back to normal, she can enjoy her travels, knowing her dental woes are behind her.

She says she highly recommends the professionals at Periodontal Health Center to anyone incurring issues with a dental implant.

“Dr. Stilley is professional and knowledgeable, and I trusted her from the very start,” Karyn says. “She works with the patient to figure out the problem and the best solution. She makes sure that you are involved in all of the decisions that are made. I felt invested in my care.

“They know exactly what they are doing, and you can feel it,” she raves. “I think they are fabulous!”

FHCN article by Judy Wade. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphic from
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