Author Archive

Winning Against Gum Disease

Save teeth and gums and eliminate periodontal disease.

Jim Baker’s battle with periodontal disease, an inflammation of the gums, began more than 20 years ago in his native Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Photo by Fred Bellet.

Jim Baker

When his gums were swollen and bleeding, Jim turned to his dentist for help. To rectify the problem, he underwent gum surgery to eradicate the diseased tissue.
At that time, 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 both. This approach typically resulted in recession of the gums – a lowering of the level of gum tissue.
“It was quite an ordeal to go through gum surgery at the time,” Jim recalls. “They took care of it, but it kind of left me with bad memories, and I avoided dentists for many years. While that wasn’t the best choice, I didn’t learn that lesson until many years later.”
When Jim and his wife, Kathy, moved to the Sunshine State just over a year ago, Kathy began going to Port Charlotte Dental Care.
“My wife started going there, and she really loves the practice a lot,” Jim shares. “But, I chose a different dentist.”
When a tooth was loose, Jim made an appointment with the dentist he had chosen. At that appointment, he was told that several of his teeth would need to be extracted because the gum disease had returned and was at an advanced stage.
“Well, once again, my gums were bleeding and sensitive to the touch,” Jim recalls. “I figured something more was going on in addition to that one loose tooth I had.
“When I went in to the dentist, they told me the situation was so bad that I needed several of my teeth removed, and I just could not see that happening. I didn’t want that. It really scared me, to be honest.
“Luckily, I read an article in Florida Health Care News about a procedure called LANAP® to treat gum disease, and it was available at Port Charlotte Dental. I made an appointment right away.”

LANAP to the Rescue

Jim met with Joseph H. Farag, DMD, at Port Charlotte Dental Care, to evaluate his mouth and determine the proper course of treatment.
After a thorough exam and x-rays, Dr. Farag confirmed that Jim had periodontal disease. His treatment plan began with extracting two infected teeth and then repairing his gum tissue.
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.
“Healthy gums adhere closely to the teeth, supporting them so they don’t become loose in the jawbone,” Dr. Farag explains. “As periodontal disease progresses, bone around the tooth is lost, and the pockets around the teeth get deeper. If left untreated, gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease, may lead to a second, more serious stage called periodontitis.

Photo by Fred Bellet.

Jim is all smiles now that his gums are healthy again.

“In this particular case, Jim had advanced periodontal disease,” Dr. Farag continues. “I chose to educate him about gum disease, which I do not think was done in the past. I showed him some pictures that show how it develops and how it progresses. I discussed what his treatment options were. I advised him that he did not need more than two teeth removed and that we could rectify his issue with an advanced laser treatment called LANAP (laser-assisted new attachment procedure).”
Research studies find that LANAP, a new type of 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 the dentist. “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 tissue, 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 that are causing the infection.
“During the second step, an ultrasonic instrument is used. Its fine tip vibrates and removes the tartar, breaking it away from the tooth. The tooth is then flushed with an antimicrobial substance that stops the growth of new bacteria. In this step, the bone around the tooth is affected, and the diseased lining of the tissue is removed.
“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.”

Healthy Gums, Healthy Life

Dr. Farag says that in many cases, patients with the beginning stages of periodontal disease show no signs or symptoms, and it is often ignored for those very reasons.
“A lot of times, people will come in for an appointment, and they will say, I feel great. Nothing is bothering me. And I do my examination, and I tell them that there are much bigger issues going on than they realize, and they are shocked by it.
“This is why it is so important to have regular oral examinations and to make sure that you keep your teeth and gums clean.
“I am glad I was able to help Jim and teach him in detail about periodontal disease – what to look for and how to properly prevent it from recurring.”
Jim says he is thankful that Dr. Farag shared his knowledge with him.
“I learned a lot from Dr. Farag, and I am impressed by his expertise,” Jim says. “His chairside manner is wonderful, and his staff is great, too. I am grateful I didn’t lose any other teeth. I keep them cleaned and flossed much more now than ever before. I really learned a lot from Dr. Farag. I highly recommend him and his practice. They are wonderful!”

Twist of Fate

Ankle replacement offers long-term solution.

Patricia Meesit admits she’s been rough on her feet over the years.
She twisted and sprained her left ankle numerous times in her younger years. As she aged, she developed arthritis in her ankle.

Photo by Fred Bellet.

Patricia can once again enjoy long walks with her dog, Emma.

“I was not the most graceful person in the world,” Patricia relates. “I was just clumsy on my feet.”
The arthritis, combined with the earlier sprains and other injuries, left her in constant, agonizing pain.
“I had done so much damage over the years, I developed the arthritis, and I was in a lot of constant pain,” Patricia explains. “It didn’t matter if I was sitting down, walking or trying to sleep, my left ankle always hurt. The throbbing progressed to the point where I could barely drive, and I certainly could not walk for very long. My pain level was a constant eight on a scale of one to ten.”
In recent years, Patricia has developed a love of square dancing. She also enjoys taking long walks and playing shuffleboard with friends.
“I was in so much pain that I couldn’t enjoy those activities anymore,” Patricia shares. “I was not myself. I am normally very active and I can’t sit still. I found I was forced to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. I wasn’t liking that too much.”
Patricia consulted a podiatrist and received a multitude of treatments, including steroid patches, injections, physical therapy, ankle braces and multiple surgeries to clean out the joints in the ankle.
“After months of different treatments, nothing helped long term,” Patricia notes. “It was at that time that my podiatrist sent me to Advanced Orthopedic Center in Port Charlotte.”

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Patricia met with Steven R. Anthony, DO, at Advanced Orthopedic Center.
“After meeting with Patricia initially, we took x-rays to confirm the diagnosis,” informs Dr. Anthony. “Those results confirmed she had bone-on-bone, post-traumatic arthritis in the left ankle.
“Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after an injury to the foot or ankle. Dislocations and fractures –particularly those that damage the joint surface – are the most common injuries that lead to post-traumatic arthritis. Like osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis causes the cartilage between the bones to wear away. It can develop many years after the initial injury.”
Arthritis is characterized as an inflammation of one or more of your joints. It can cause pain and stiffness in any joint in the body, and is common in the small joints of the foot and ankle. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. Ankle arthritis is quite rare compared to knee or hip arthritis. Surgery is always the last resort for patients, and Dr. Anthony does not suggest it until all other avenues of healing have been exhausted.
“Patricia had already attempted conventional treatments, and they were all unsuccessful,” Dr. Anthony explains. “An ankle fusion is the historical treatment for severe ankle arthritis. That surgery involves welding the ankle shut and forcing the two main ankle bones, the tibia and talus, to regrow together. This stops the grinding of the bones. It is an excellent procedure, but it results in a major loss of motion long term. People can obviously walk on the foot again, but it is not ideal for an active individual, like Patricia.
“I suggested a total ankle replacement for Patricia, as I felt it was her best possible option. She is an active woman, so we wanted to be sure to reinstate full range of motion, and this procedure does just that.
“The ideal candidate is relatively thin, older than seventy and active, but not overactive. For example, I would not perform this surgery on someone who runs marathons as they would likely wear the ankle out too quickly. Patricia is the perfect candidate. She plays tennis and shuffleboard and enjoys walking her dog, and I wanted to get her back to doing those things.”

Back on Her Feet

Patricia was anxious and nervous leading up to the day of the procedure.
“It sounded a bit scary when it was described to me, especially the recovery period,” she says. “But, at that point, I was willing to try it because I was in so much pain all the time. I just wanted my life back. I wanted to be able to walk and be active without being in constant pain.”
Dr. Anthony says the surgery takes about an hour and a half to perform and requires an overnight stay in the hospital for observation.
“Once we discharge the patient, they are not able to walk on the foot for six weeks,” Dr. Anthony describes. “This allows the ankle to heal completely. If they walk on it too soon, the joint can become loose.
“After the six weeks are complete, we put them in a boot for about four weeks,” he continues. “Once that boot is taken off, patients undergo physical therapy to help learn to walk again and put weight back on that foot.”
Patricia is thankful to Dr. Anthony for his bedside manner and expertise.
“He’s wonderful, and I highly recommend him,” Patricia says. “He is patient, and he tells you everything up front. He doesn’t hide behind any details, and that’s important.”
Although her road to recovery took a bit longer than expected, Patricia is thrilled to say she is pain free and back on the dance floor again.
“I love to square dance so I’m back to doing that, and I love it!” she raves. “I can also take long walks with my dog again, and that makes her, and me, very happy.”

Feel Younger, Stronger and Sexier

A broken finger turned out to be a life-changing event for Debbie Rogers.
Nearly a decade ago, Debbie began experiencing menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, lack of interest in sex and feeling lethargic.

Photo by Fred Bellet.

Debbie Rogers

“I didn’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning,” Debbie shares. “I was tired and miserable. I just wanted to curl up and stay at home. And the hot flashes and night sweats were downright awful.”
These symptoms persisted for several years before she finally made an appointment with her gynecologist.
“When I finally forced myself to go in for an appointment, the doctor noticed I had a broken finger. He suggested that, because of my age, I have blood work done and a bone density screening performed,” Debbie says. “The results of those tests indicated that not only did I have osteoporosis, but I was extremely hormone deficient.”
Soon thereafter, Debbie began treatment for the osteoporosis, which has improved her bone density dramatically. But, she continued to suffer with the hormone deficiency.
“I started to do research online, and I was reading about pellet therapy,” Debbie recalls. “I was very intrigued by the possibilities.
“I looked for offices in the Tampa Bay area that offered the pellet therapy and found Infinity Medical Institute. I admit that even though I was fascinated by what I read, I was also skeptical that it would work. When my husband kept urging me to get help, I finally made an appointment.”

What Are Bio-Natural Hormones?

“When Debbie initially came into the office, we performed very thorough testing to determine her exact needs,” explains Moriah Moffitt, MD, of Infinity Medical Institute. “Her hormone levels were extremely low, making her an ideal candidate for our bio-natural hormone replacement therapy.”
Bio-natural L3 pellet hormone replacement therapy is the most natural and effective solution for hormone-
related issues.

Photo by Fred Bellet.

Debbie says her mood swings are gone since undergoing bio-hormone replacement therapy.

“Through Infinity Medical Institute’s bio-natural L3 pellet hormone replacement therapy, patients like Debbie achieve consistent absorption of the proper, predictable levels of hormones their bodies require for optimum health through the simple insertion of a pellet approximately every three to five months.”
These bio-natural hormone pellets are derived from wild yam plants, a natural plant material that is molecularly changed in structure and function for a 98 percent bio-identical match to the body’s own composition, whereas synthetic hormones can be as little as six to eight percent bio-identical.
“Hormones affect everything, including our growth through childhood, our sexual development, our moods, how we break down our food, sleep patterns, stress, how much weight we gain – just about every function in the body, big and small,” educates Dr. Moffitt. “They also play a role in many health conditions such as diabetes, an over- or underactive thyroid, osteoporosis, obesity, anxiety and depression.
“Our bio-natural L3 pellet hormone therapy helps to give us an edge as we provide patients with a product that is all natural, and we stand behind it,” Dr. Moffitt continues. “It’s the most effective hormone treatment on the market because it is replacing natural, normal hormones with biologically identical hormones that the body is used to seeing, rather than synthetic versions of the hormones.”
To be sure the patient is receiving the proper amount of hormones, comprehensive evaluations of overall health are performed prior to the pellets being administered.
“We want to be sure that the treatment we administer is going to be the overall best course of action for that patient,” Dr. Moffitt adds. “We’re very thorough with the labs at every visit in order to see what has changed, and what needs to be altered. We want to be sure every patient is feeling the best they possibly can. We not only look at their labs, but we look at their overall health because other issues, like diabetes or high blood pressure, can affect how the treatment is administered.”

Amazing Results

Debbie felt results within about a month of her initial treatment. Today, she goes to Infinity Medical Insti-
tute every three months for pellet therapy.
“I feel absolutely amazing again,” Debbie says. “It is like the weight of the world was taken off my shoulders. Everything has improved, from my mood to my sex drive. The results are absolutely amazing.”
Debbie’s energy level has improved so much that she now takes a dance class, travels more and spends more time with her grandchildren.
Dr. Moffitt says it makes it all worthwhile to see patients like Debbie make such vast improvements.
“We see a transformation of our patients from the first time they come through the door and throughout their treatment,” she confirms. “Patients come in saying that they’re not feeling vibrant, energetic, and have no interest in sex. After they receive our specialized treatment, they come back in and they’re smiling and feeling great again. They get that confidence back.
“Our overall goal is for our patients to look and feel good from the inside out, and we work hard to achieve that.”
“I have my life back again, and I am feeling fabulous,” Debbie raves. “Life could not be better!”

Reverse Urinary Incontinence

Carla Taylor, 60, knows what it’s like to experience a brush with death. In January 2008, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening tumor at the base of her brain stem.

Photos by Jordan Pysz.

Carla can play golf for hours now after receiving the O-Shot.

“I was having really bad headaches to the point that they were ruining my daily life,” Carla recalls. “I was in constant pain. They were so intense, I ended up going to the emergency room, and doctors discovered I had a colloid cyst on the base of my brain that was causing the headaches.”
A colloid cyst obstructs cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) movement, resulting in elevated brain pressure. If left undetected, a colloid cyst can block proper blood flow to the brain and slowly shut down bodily systems.
To remove the cyst, Carla underwent five surgeries and was hospitalized for six weeks.
Not long after the surgery and while hospitalized, Carla had a mini-stroke, which left half of her body paralyzed. As a result, she underwent physical rehabilitation for nearly a year. Carla was on the road to recovery and regaining mobility when yet another life-altering episode occurred several years later: She started having epileptic seizures.
“They just started one day out of nowhere,” Carla recalls. “I was a school teacher for twenty-three years, and one day, I had a seizure in front of my students. That forced me into retirement because I never knew when they would come, and I did not want to scare the kids like that. The seizures, though, left me with an even bigger problem, which is urinary incontinence.
“The incontinence got so bad that I was going through eight adult diapers a day and six at night,” she continues. “It took over every aspect of my life. My husband, Dennis, and I have a boat that I wasn’t able to enjoy because I couldn’t be far from a bathroom. I couldn’t go out to eat in a restaurant because I had to get up from the table so often. We play cards with friends, and I couldn’t do that, either. I had no social life, no life outside my home. It was really, really horrible.”
Carla says she was sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office one day when she picked up a copy of Florida Health Care News and read about the O-Shot, offered at Infinity Medical Institute.
“The article was on the front page, so it caught my eye,” she recalls. “It talked about a woman who got the O-Shot to help control her urinary incontinence. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I told my husband about it, and he was encouraging. He thought it sounded like something I should try. The more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself to go. I told my husband, This could be a game-changer for me! I have to go see them!”

O-Shot Liberation

Michael Montemurro, president of Infinity Medical Institute, confirms that the O-Shot can, indeed, help reverse the symptoms of urinary incontinence in patients like Carla.
“Carla’s case was extreme and unlike any we have seen here before,” Michael shares. “Her incontinence was affecting every aspect of her life, from her sleep pattern to her personal interactions. She came to us knowing exactly what she wanted, and we were confident we could help her attain that.
“In the past, we’ve found that of the women who have received the O-Shot to treat their urinary incontinence issues, the majority have experienced vast improvement,” he continues. “The O-Shot helps to tighten, or strengthen, the bladder muscles and stop the leakage. As I said, Carla’s case was very extreme, but there are far too many women experiencing incontinence issues when they cough, laugh or sneeze, and we want them to know there is help available.”
According to Michael, on occasion, some women may require an additional shot to receive maximum relief. Typically, most women experience a vast improvement with their first treatment.
Carla confirms she experienced relief from the first day she got the shot.
“After it was over, we left the office in Tampa and drove all the way home to New Port Richey, and I was fine,” Carla shares. “Before, I would have had to stop to go to the bathroom at least once. That night, I slept all night long without having to wake up to use the restroom. It’s been an amazing breakthrough for me! I still have to wear the adult pads, occasionally, but not nearly as many.”
Today, Carla is back to enjoying weekends on the boat, taking her dogs on long walks and playing cards with friends.
“I have my life back. You don’t realize how much you’ve lost until you go through what I have been through. The improvement is like night and day.”

Is It Cold or Flu?

November 4th, 2017

Flu season typically runs from early October and can last into May.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends healthy adults and children be vaccinated to prevent the oftentimes deadly virus from spreading.Photo from istockphoto

Symptoms of the flu come on suddenly and are worse than those of the common cold. Those symptoms may include:

  • Body or muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Flu-related hospitalizations since 2015 range from 140,000 to 710,000 annually, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000 that same year. During flu season, flu viruses circulate at higher levels amongst the US population.

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

There are two types of flu vaccines – the flu shot and the nasal spray vaccine.

The flu shot contains active flu viruses. The shot is FDA approved for children over 6 months of age, healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions. Studies show that the flu shot were more than 70 percent effective, compared to 60 percent for the flu spray.

The nasal spray vaccine is also made of live, weakened flu viruses and is FDA approved for people aged 5-49 and who are not pregnant.2.

The best time to get vaccinated is before flu season begins. It generally takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the virus. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of November, if possible.  Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.

Vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in area schools.

While the single best way to prevent the flu virus is by getting vaccinated, there are still lifestyle changes you can implement to avoid contracting the illness including avoid close contact with those who are sick; cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, drinking plenty of fluids and maintain a healthy diet.

Seeing Things Through

Medical advancements provide options for glaucoma patients.

Wafaiey Boutros had dealt with glaucoma for years when his eye disease progressed, despite therapies like eye drop medication. Called the silent thief of sight, because it typically has no signs or symptoms such as pain or a sudden loss of vision, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness.
Glaucoma comes in many forms. The most common type of the disease harms the optic nerve through increased pressure within the eye.
“My eyesight was deteriorating over the past year, according to my ophthalmologist,” Wafaiey confirms. “I had a really hard time driving, especially at night. It got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t drive safely. I struggled to see.
“I was also seeing black spots all the time,” he describes. “No matter what direction I was looking in, black spots were everywhere.”
At the recommendation of his ophthalmologist, the first step Wafaiey took to resolve the situation was to undergo laser surgery. Unfortunately, that procedure failed to stop the progression of the disease.
“I waited about four to five months after the laser surgery, and even at that point, my vision was not better,” he recalls. “I went back to my doctor, and they decided there was little more they could do at their level.”
That’s when Wafaiey was referred to Sandra Johnson, MD, a glaucoma specialist at The Eye Institute of West Florida.

Tried-and-True Solution

“Glaucoma really has no symptoms,” Dr. Johnson educates. “The main risk factor for glaucoma is definitely age, so the older a person gets, the greater the risk that person could get glaucoma. It’s the leading cause of blindness in African-Americans. They get it about a decade earlier than Caucasian- or European-Americans. More often than not, it is pretty far advanced before it’s discovered.”
Most people in the US have open-angle glaucoma, which is asymptomatic until it’s very far advanced. Sufferers lose their mid-peripheral vision but still see really well out to the side – far-peripheral vision. That’s the last thing they lose.
“Wafaiey has refractory glaucoma, which is glaucoma that hasn’t responded to previous treatments,” Dr. Johnson shares. “His was uncontrolled with his drops, and laser treatment did not work, so the disease was progressing. He was a surgical consult when he first came in. Initially, I performed extensive testing to see where the pressure was in his eyes.
“Once I determined that pressure was continuing to rise, I advised that an advanced surgery was his best option. I then discussed with him the procedures that would have the highest likelihood of being successful.”Dr. Johnson discusses and personalizes each procedure based on the individual patient’s lifestyle, age, medical history and stage of glaucoma.
“With Wafaiey’s first eye, I performed a conventional trabeculectomy, where we create a drainage system for the eye out of the patient’s own tissues.”
A trabeculectomy lowers the intraocular pressure inside the eye (IOP) in patients with glaucoma. This is achieved by making a small hole in the eye wall (sclera), covered by a thin trap door in the sclera to release excess fluid.
“It’s known as the tried-and-true standard of care for people who need a surgical glaucoma procedure. It worked like a charm.”

XEN® Technology

When it was time to perform surgery on Wafaiey’s other eye this year, Dr. Johnson utilized the newest FDA-approved technology available called the XEN Gel Stent.
“XEN is an established option for lowering high eye pressure in refractory glaucoma patients where medications and other options have failed,” Dr. Johnson explains. “The stent is about the size of an eyelash and is made of a flexible material. Its main function is to create a small channel in the eye to drain fluid and lower the pressure.
“It is placed just under the conjunctiva, which is the clear membrane that covers the white of the eye. It is permanently placed, and most patients no longer need to use the eye drops after the surgery.”
Dr. Johnson says the surgery was quick, painless and an overwhelming success.
“Wafaiey’s recovery was seamless, and best of all, he no longer has to use the glaucoma drops anymore. The pressure in both eyes has been stabilized, and his numbers have gone up. He’s doing great!”
Dr. Johnson confirms that while there really is no cure for glaucoma, the latest advances can slow its progression.
“We do our best to slow it down and stay ahead of it so that people don’t have such noticeable problems with their vision that they can’t function,” she explains.
Wafaiey says he had his second eye surgery done just prior to the time he was renewing his driver’s license.
“I was worried that I would not pass the test if I had waited to have the surgery done afterward,” he shares. “I passed the test, and my eyesight is wonderful! I am extremely thankful for Dr. Johnson’s knowledge and expertise. She is a great surgeon and a great glaucoma specialist.
“My vision is so much better and clearer than before!”

Beyond Your Limits

Manipulation Under Anesthesia relieves pain, increases flexibility

Michael Hobson recently retired from four decades of work in the construction business. A Michigan native, he and his wife, Noella, packed up and moved to Florida two years ago to escape the frigid Midwest winters and bask in warmth and sunshine.
“We were tired of the long, dark winter months, and Florida has a lot of appeal, so here we are,” Michael shares.
To keep himself busy, Michael took a job as a coach bus driver. In April, during a drive from Orlando to Tampa, Michael was involved in an accident that left him injured and in a great deal of pain.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Michael can sit without pain (shown here with Dr. Steller).

“I went to the hospital, and they ran a lot of tests,” Michael recalls. “I was told I had whiplash and a torn meniscus in my right knee. I also had herniated discs in my back and neck.”
In the coming months, Michael found himself in relentless pain. He was unable to drive or even walk long distances without some part of his body bothering him. He could no longer enjoy his favorite pastimes, like riding his bike and working out.
“I was in constant pain,” Michael recalls. “It was my back, my neck, my knee, my legs – always something. I couldn’t stand for more than a couple of minutes before my back started to bother me. I never felt one hundred percent at any given time. The pain took over my life.”
Michael was referred to Stephen J. Steller, DC, of Spinal Correction Centers.
“When I first met Michael, his pain level was easily an eight on a scale of one to ten,” Dr. Steller recalls. “I looked at his prior x-rays and also performed range of motion testing and some orthopedic examinations. With those results, I was better able to plan an effective course of treatment.”
Dr. Steller informs that Michael’s bus accident likely exacerbated underlying issues.
“He was a hard worker in the construction business for decades, and that likely took a physical toll on his body over the years,” Dr. Steller explains. “The bus accident just added to that and made everything worse, in addition to creating some new problems.”
Dr. Steller began a regimen of chiropractic manipulations, but those did not seem to provide Michael with the relief he needed.
“He lost his range of motion and was having difficulty regaining it,” Dr. Steller recalls. “The pain he was experiencing was taking over his daily life to the point where he was unable to function. I had another idea I presented to him.”
Dr. Steller suggested Michael undergo a unique treatment protocol known as Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA).

How MUA Helps

“Many people just like Michael who have painful muscle and joint conditions can benefit from MUA,” Dr. Steller educates. “Ideal candidates are those with conditions such as unresolved neck and back pain, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, frozen shoulder, acute and chronic muscle spasm, headaches and failed back surgery syndrome. The procedure can also benefit anyone who has suffered any kind of impact injury. This can occur from things like wrecking your bike as a kid, falling from a ladder, or even sitting at a desk at work for thirty years. Honestly, most everyone could benefit from MUA.
“People start losing flexibility when their typical, daily activities cause a minor injury that leads to inflammation,” continues Dr. Steller. “Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process, which lays down a mesh of connective tissue, commonly known as scar tissue. Over time, layer upon layer of scar tissue can form in the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joints, restricting the joints’ ability to move properly. These layers of scar tissue are called adhesions.”
The symptoms and warning signs generally associated with adhesions include the slow and insidious loss of flexibility, as well as an increasing achiness and soreness.

“I felt a huge relief almost immediately. It was really life-changing for me.” – Michael

“Most people will attribute this to normal aging,” Dr. Steller adds. “While it’s very common to become stiff and sore with age, it’s not normal. There are warning signs people need to be aware of and not simply dismiss.”
Ideal candidates have likely already undergone more conservative care options, including medications, injections, rehabilitation and physical therapy. Many have even been considered for injection therapy.
“I really kind of exhausted my options short of surgery,” Michael says. “When Dr. Steller explained the MUA procedure to me, I thought, It can’t hurt to try.”
During the MUA procedure, the patient is put under light sedation, sometimes called “twilight” sedation. With the patient relaxed, doctors can then take the affected joints through their normal full range of motion, freeing the adhesions that have developed that are causing the pain.
“We use light, comprehensive stretching techniques while the patient is sedated,” explains Dr. Steller. “Since we don’t have to contend with tense, guarded muscles, we are able to free up the scar tissue and mobilize the joints without causing the patient any discomfort. This would be impossible to do without the use of sedation.”
Typically, there are four to six of weeks of rehabilitation following the treatment itself to reinforce the increased movement obtained from the procedure. During this time, patients are instructed on how to perform stretching exercises to prevent the condition from recurring,

Photo by Jordan Pysz.Regain Range of Motion

Immobility and pain are the two main reasons patients seek MUA, Dr. Steller reiterates. “This routine is a welcomed diversion to being faced with surgery. Most people experience some degree of relief immediately after the treatment.”
“I felt a huge relief almost immediately,” Michael confirms. It was really life-changing for me. I still have a bit of pain, but I am a work in progress. Dr. Steller is continuing my chiropractic adjustments and stretching.”
As for his daily routine, Michael is happy to report he has regained his range of motion and can stand steady on his own two feet once again.
“I have my good days and my bad days, just like anyone else,” Michael says. “Sometimes when I stand, I have to shift my weight from one leg to the other, and I still have a little bit of difficulty with my neck. But overall, I am doing much better.
“I really feel the MUA worked a miracle for me!”

Worth the Time

Commitment to providing expert dental care

In her native New England more than 30 years ago, Jeanne Miller had a cyst removed from her mouth and lost five good teeth in the process. She had a partial denture placed in her mouth to take the place of the teeth that were removed. Over the years, that partial never really sat well with her.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Jeanne has been a loyal patient of Dr. Leong’s for years.

The partial was causing the roof of her mouth to become inflamed and red. It was quite painful.
“It was uncomfortable, and I never felt secure with it,” Jeanne recalls. “I started researching dental implants and was intrigued by everything I read about them. In 1986, my husband and I moved to Florida, and I started looking for a dentist who placed implants. One of the two dentists I found was Dr. Leong.”
Richard Leong, Jr., DDS, is a general and implant dentist who practices comprehensive, full-treatment dentistry, including full mouth reconstruction.
When he initially examined Jeanne, Dr. Leong discovered she suffered from temporomandibular joint disease, or TMJ.
“This occurs where the joints connect to the jaw. There was clicking where her upper and lower jaws met,” Dr. Leong explains. “If I did not correct that first, she would have continued to have jaw issues and eventually even gum issues.”
Dr. Leong says before he could proceed to place implants, Jeanne’s jaw joint problem had to be corrected, her gums needed to be healthy and her teeth in the correct positions.
Dr. Leong treated Jeanne with dental splints to correct her TMJ, and braces to straighten and position her teeth. In addition, he treated her gum disease with laser therapy in preparation for the implants.
“The bone had to regrow around those implants, so while that was healing, we did orthodontics on her to get her teeth straight and get them into the proper position.
“Now, her bite is stable and much more functional,” Dr. Leong says.
“Once we had the teeth in the proper position and the gums were healthy, I was able to move forward in determining her probability of receiving dental implants.”

Years of Neglect

Retired from the US Air Force after serving for two decades, David Smith says his oral health was something he ignored over the years.
“My wife, Theresa, started going to Dr. Leong several years before I did,” David shares. “Once she got established there, I soon followed.
“I was a smoker, so I had a lot of issues when I first went to see Dr. Leong,” he continues. “My gums were badly infected because I had neglected my teeth for so long. I also had several loose teeth. My mouth was not in good shape.
“It was difficult to eat, especially hard things, and it hurt to chew. I could do it, but it was slow and not very fun. That’s why I was considering implants.”
Dr. Leong began David’s treatment much like Jeanne’s.
“After examining David, I knew I had to start by cleaning up his gums, so we did gum treatment on him with a laser,” Dr. Leong describes.
“Once the gums were healthy enough, I created an upper denture. He had enough bone to secure that denture without implants.”
For nine years after receiving that denture, David says, he stopped going for his appointments.
“I was just real bad about going,” David relays. “I was a bad patient.”
After the nine years of further neglect, David returned to Dr. Leong.
“By the time I saw David again, his gums were a mess again because of the smoking,”
Dr. Leong says. “He had loose teeth. He could barely chew at all. He was faced with losing all of his bottom teeth because of decay.”
Because of David’s lack of consistent dental care and the condition of his gums and decaying teeth, he suffered substantial bone loss.
Upon the advice of Dr. Leong, David decided to have his bottom teeth removed and replaced with a denture.
“I made him a full denture for the bottom, and that one is supported by what is considered to be a mini implant. They are smaller-in-diameter implants, and are used when a patient doesn’t have much bone left,” Dr. Leong explains.

Multiple Implant Options

Dental implants are metal anchors implanted in the jawbone to hold replacement teeth. The root sits in the jawbone, below the gumline, and a crown, or other dental device, is attached to it.

Stock photo from

Denture is secured by dental implants.

“If all a patient needs is to get the denture to stay in place, smaller implants are ideal,” Dr. Leong continues. “They are typically for patients who do not need bone grafting done, like David. These smaller posts can hold single crowns, as well as a small bridge or partial denture. There are a lot of uses for these smaller implants if used correctly and if there is a sufficient amount of bone intact.
“When the process is completed with precision, people can retain the denture immediately. They can walk out of an appointment and the denture is securely in place. It’s amazing.
“There needs to be adequate bone, healthy gums and a proper bite first,” he stresses. “Patients need to have a proper overall environment in their mouth in order for implants to be successful. They also need the proper overall attitude about taking care of themselves and their teeth. They can’t just think that they can come in, get implants and never think about those teeth again.
“Furthermore, their medical health needs to be in check. They may have medical conditions that could preclude them from having long-term success with their teeth, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
“They need to be committed to follow-up care. Routine cleanings and exams are vital to maintaining the implants, as well as their overall oral health. These are an investment, and the patient needs to be invested in it for the long haul.”
Once Jeanne’s teeth were properly aligned and the implants were secure in the jawbone, Dr. Leong placed implant-supported bridges on both the top and bottom of her mouth.
Dr. Leong says he’s also had to repair some of the prior work Jeanne has had done over the years.
“It’s common to have to do some repair work over time,” Dr. Leong says. “Nothing lasts forever. Jeanne later developed acid reflux, which damaged some of her teeth. Because of that, I had to redo her lower right bridge. That was an original I had placed twenty-six years earlier.
“Jeanne has been a trooper over the years and a loyal patient. She’s had substantial work done to her smile, and she’s really come a long way. You name it, she’s had it done.
“Many patients who already have a denture have lost much of the bone in the jawline. This is a common problem. As the bone shrinks away, the shape of the mouth changes. Therefore, there is less suction, and they cannot hold their denture in their mouth.
“I’ve performed many of these implant procedures in Nicaragua, for example, where people line up to have them done because they want so badly to have their teeth stay in their mouths instead of falling out all the time. My job is very rewarding.”

Patient and Doctor Loyalty

For three decades, Jeanne has driven 40 miles each way from her home in Titusville to the office of Dr. Leong in Melbourne. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Her dedication to Dr. Leong and his practice stems from his commitment to provide top-notch care to his patients.
“I’ve had a lot of dental work done over the years, from bridges to crowns and everything in between,” Jeanne says. “Dr. Leong is like a good friend. He’s reliable, and I can talk to him about anything. We’ve developed that trusting relationship over the years.”
David says he is thankful to Dr. Leong for being professional and understanding, especially during the times he neglected his teeth.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

David takes much better care of his oral health nowadays.

“He never judged me; he just always wants to help,” David assures. “That is one of the qualities I admire about him. He cares more than any dentist I’ve ever been to.”
In his many years as a dentist, Dr. Leong has implemented many leading-edge advancements in implantology in his own practice. He has also personally developed new techniques.
“Because I teach other dentists how to perform dental implant surgery, I want to use the latest methods, procedures and techniques in our own offices,” he explains. “My office is equipped with all of the latest technology available. We are very high-tech, and I want to let everyone know that I do a lot more than just cleanings or fillings. I specialize in comprehensive dentistry.
“At this point in my career, I really enjoy helping people in different ways, either through my mission work, through teaching dentistry or working directly with the patient. I love having something to give back,” Dr. Leong adds.
Dr. Leong strives to provide patients with the latest advancements in dental procedures and technology, and patients are quick to notice.
“In all of the surgeries and procedures I perform, I use the latest techniques to improve healing by decreasing the amount of time it takes for a patient to heal and by minimizing any pain during the recovery period,” he notes. “I do a lot of research on the most advanced procedures, and I strive to incorporate those advancements into my practice every day.”

Everything Under One Roof

Because of the impact he is able to have on his patients’ health and comfort, comprehensive care is a cornerstone philosophy of his practice.
“We provide a comprehensive service so that, when patients come into the office, I am able to help them in all areas,” he explains. “As a result, they don’t have to travel to many different places to have their dentistry completed. The protocols keep improving, so techniques become faster and better. I specialize in comprehensive dentistry in order to meet the growing and changing needs of my patients. Their needs always come first.”
“Dr. Leong always has an open door,” describes David. “Even when I was gone for years, he never once turned his back on me. He’s fantastic!”
Jeanne says her teeth are in the best shape they have ever been in, and she is appreciative of Dr. Leong’s expertise and commitment to care.
“He’s the best there is, hands down,” she says. “He’s not just a dentist, he is a true friend.”

Bridging The Generational Gap

Another unique program at Hibiscus Court is the intergenerational program.
“We have partnerships with a few local elementary schools. We arrange for the students to come in and sing, dance, perform and entertain the residents,” explains Paige Blossom, resident programming director. “I want to bring the generations together here at Hibiscus Court and allow the young and old to interact and bridge that gap where age tends to get in the way. It’s been a great learning experience for all involved. Our residents love it when the kids come, and the kids love them back.”
Working alongside Paige is Kelsey Hochard, activities assistant. “I absolutely love what I do, and I really enjoy making personal connections with our residents here,” Kelsey says. “Most importantly, I love planning fun and stimulating activities for our residents to keep them busy and engaged.Photo courtesy of Hibiscus Court.
“The smile on their faces when a group of kids comes in is heartwarming,” Kelsey adds. “Sometimes, they are away from their own grandkids, and this gives them a chance to interact with young folks. We also have high school students who will come in, so it’s not just smaller kids. The older kids will come and sit with the residents or play cards or help them with a task. The residents just love it and it makes them happy. It’s a joy to see.”
Family interaction is an integral ingredient at Hibiscus Court.
“All of our activities are open to family members to participate in,” Paige relays. “If we go on field trips, family members are encouraged to come along. Friends and family members come in and participate in games, listen to the live entertainment – whatever they want to do to spend time with their loved ones. We understand how important family is in maintaining overall mental health.”
“Every Friday, we host Friday Fest. It includes live music, entertainment, hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. The Friday music is upbeat and lively,” Kelsey describes. “We incorporate as much fun as we can into their daily activities. We also have sing-a-longs and dancing, which they really love, too. Many of them love to dance. That’s one thing I want to stress – this is not a place where our residents just sit around and do nothing all day. It’s the exact opposite. We cater to all personalities and levels.”
For those residents who may be a bit less active or enjoy quieter interests, Hibiscus Court offers card games, brain games, long walks, board games – anything necessary to stay engaged in a quieter setting.
“No one is ever left out. We include everyone. We are a family,” Kelsey emphasizes.
Kelsey says her job has been one of the most rewarding parts of her life. Being able to give back to her elders is self-gratifying.
“I can see in the residents’ eyes that they really enjoy the things we do for them,” she observes. “Any time we get a smile from them, we know we’re doing something right. Even if they can’t physically say Thank you for whatever reason, a smile is priceless. It really is.”

Fine Arts, Finer Living

Residents enjoy live stage performances via the community’s new theatre arts program.

Betty Cox isn’t hesitant to admit change can be a good thing.
“I’ve seen and experienced a lot of change in my lifetime,” says the 89-year-old. “It’s not something I’m afraid of or that I meet with hesitation. I just go with the flow.”
In recent years, Betty lived with her daughter and son-in-law. But, the couple travel often, and Betty found herself home alone for long stretches of time.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Betty spends much of her time with the Hibiscus Players at The Henegar.

“My daughter started to worry about me being there by myself in case anything were to happen,” Betty recalls. “I came down with walking pneumonia, and I had to be hospitalized. Once I recovered, we decided it would be best if I lived in a community where I would always have someone there if I need them. That’s when we started looking for a senior community, and we found Hibiscus Court. So, more change, but a good one.”
Betty moved into Hibiscus Court in May 2017.
Full of energy and vigor, Betty says age is just a number. She wanted to get involved in an activity that would occupy her time and put her energy to good use.
“I don’t slow down. I mean, why would I?” she exclaims. “I just want to do what I can, while I can.”
Betty soon discovered Hibiscus Players, a fine arts program exclusively offered to residents of Hibiscus Court.
“I’ve always loved theatre and stage performance,” Betty admits. “I don’t have a history of performing myself, but I’ve always had a love for the stage. This was perfect for me.”

Just a Player

Hibiscus Players is a fine arts club that allows residents of Hibiscus Court the opportunity to study the arts and attend plays and musical productions.
“We have developed a fantastic opportunity through the tireless work and support of the Henegar Center,” assures Alex Larson, marketing relations director at Hibiscus Court. “We have partnered with their senior fine arts education outreach project to provide the opportunity for our residents to attend performances there.
“We’ve taken our group to see The Lion King and Singin’ in the Rain. We have also had actors and singers come to Hibiscus Court to do short performances and provide continuing education. In addition, the group recently went to the Melbourne Civic Theatre and saw a dress rehearsal for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which was amazing.”
Alex says Betty is an asset to the Hibiscus Players program and works tirelessly to secure performances and top-notch experiences for all members of the group.
“Betty is extremely dynamic, energetic and enthusiastic and has been a driving force with Hibiscus Players in terms of coming up with new ideas and amazing activities for our group to be a part of. She is like my right arm!”

Keeping Busy

As we age, factors such as nutrition, mental and physical activity and social interaction begin to become as important as medical care. The team at Hibiscus Court places great importance on these areas.
“In addition to what I do with the Hibiscus Players, our activities director and her staff work hard to create a long list of activities to keep our residents active and engaged,” Alex assures. “They do amazing work to provide physical, social and cognitive activities to stimulate the minds and occupy the days of our residents. The staff works endless hours planning activities for residents to keep them mentally and physically active.”
Studies have consistently shown that there is a direct correlation between a fulfilling life and longevity in seniors. Those who have established social networks and who are active, both mentally and physically, are shown to live longer and have more good years.
“Developing relationships never stops, especially as we age,” Alex says. “As humans, we continue to have a need to belong to something. Our goal at Hibiscus Court is to always have something exciting and interesting for our seniors to look forward to.
“It is truly a wonderful thing to witness bonds develop within Hibiscus Players and watch friendships foster and grow. I look forward to what lies ahead!”

Renew Your Hearing with ReSound

A longtime sufferer of tinnitus, Michael Whittington learned to live with the bothersome ringing in his ears for decades.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Michael can pair his hearing aids with his cell phone.

Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about one in five people. Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself — it’s a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
In Michael’s case, his tinnitus was, in fact, a result of age-related hearing loss.
“In addition to the ringing in my ears, my hearing got progressively worse over the years,” Michael admits. “This went on for years. I was always asking my wife, Athena, to repeat herself. I was driving her crazy, I’m sure.”
A businessman and entrepreneur, Michael spends hours talking to his clients over the phone from his home office. When his ability to communicate effectively with his clients continued to worsen, he decided to seek help.
“I would be talking on the phone to clients, and being able to decipher what they were saying became exhausting, especially when I was talking to someone with any kind of accent.”
Once Michael made the decision to seek help, he sought out a doctor of audiology for a full diagnostic evaluation. After searching online, he found
Dr. Karen Cowan-Oberbeck a board-certified audiologist at EarCare in Melbourne.

Technological Advancements

During his initial appointment, Michael underwent a thorough hearing evaluation and medical history review by Dr. Cowan-Oberbeck.
“They probably performed three times the hearing tests I have ever had done in my lifetime,” Michael raves. “It was very thorough.”
Afterward, Michael met with Glenn Oberbeck, HAS, to review his evaluation results and choose a set of hearing aids that would fit his lifestyle.
“We did an interview with Michael to understand his lifestyle and determine the best hearing aids to meet his expectations,” Glenn explains.
“Michael has never truly worn a set of hearing aids in his lifetime, even though he has suffered with hearing loss for years,” continues Glenn. “He had a set of hearing aids that were rather large and bulky, and he never used them. I find that happens a lot with patients I’ve seen over the years. By showing Michael the latest technology that is available now, purchasing hearing aids was a life-changing decision for him.
“Together, we chose the latest ReSound products for Michael. He’s a businessman, and he is on his cell phone with clients every day. I also discovered that he is an avid shooter and hunter. He is outside in nature a lot. I wanted to be sure to recommend a product that would be safe for him when he’s hunting. He can limit the gunfire sound output to protect his hearing, but also hear his surroundings at the same time. For safety, custom shooting earmolds were made for Michael and are easily changed on the device.
“ReSound devices have the capability of streaming wireless audio straight into the hearing aids. When he hunts, Michael wears protective headgear and was unable to hear his phone if someone was trying to reach him. Now, he can hear the phone ringing straight into his hearing aids.” He also utilizes an app-based tinnitus solution that is built into the hearing aids.
Glenn says one of the most significant changes in hearing devices over the years is their advanced technological capability. One of those state-of-the-art features is wireless connectivity: the ability to wirelessly pair hearing aids with external devices, such as televisions, telephones and computers. “On average, we see an advancement in technology every three years or so,” Glenn explains. “The ReSound products are a great example of that ever-changing technology. These are a nice fit for Michael, and I think we met every one of his hearing goals.”
Michael says he is equally impressed with the technology.
“I am very impressed by the technology in these ReSound devices,” Michael assures. “I can pair them with my cell phone, adjust the volume on the television to my own liking and the best thing is, they are barely visible. They are small and very discreet. I really love them!”
Glenn emphasizes that because the advanced technology can initially be intimidating to many patients, the hearing professionals at EarCare set up strategic appointments for training. These allow the hearing aids’ capabilities to be introduced, practiced and expanded upon as the patient becomes more familiar and comfortable with the technology.
“I see all of my patients every three to four months, just to be sure the hearing aids are operating properly and meeting the wearer’s individual needs,” Glenn adds. “I take that time to address any issues the wearer is having. There is no cost for these follow-up appointments.”

Patient Commitment

The EarCare staff wants people with hearing loss to know that once they become a patient, they will never need to go elsewhere for adjustments. Glenn emphasizes the clinic’s Patients For Life program, where they service a patient’s hearing aids for the life of those hearing aids. This includes regular hearing evaluations.
“We have adopted the Patients For Life program, where we service a patient’s hearing aids for the life of those hearing aids,” Glenn informs. “Patients come back for regular maintenance and adjustments every few months. Every one to two years, a patient’s hearing is tested to ensure the hearing aids are working properly for them. Once you come to us for hearing aids, we continue to care for you for life.”
Michael says Glenn is thorough and caring. He is appreciative of the professional care and advice he receives.
“Glenn is really caring and takes his time with you to explain everything about your hearing loss and how hearing aids help you hear better.”
Michael says although the professionals at EarCare certainly provided the solution he needed, he credits his wife for pushing him to make a change.
“I owe all the credit to my wife because she pushed for this to happen,” Michael states. “Thanks to Athena, and EarCare, I am hearing better and clearer than I have in years.”

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