Author Archive

Reveal What’s Inside

Technology solves complex dental cases in three dimensions.

Marielle* talks for a living, so when she woke up one Wednesday morning with excruciating tooth pain, it was a serious concern for several reasons.Dr. Sean Bannan diagnosed a hidden infection in Marielle (alias) using the cone beam CT scanner he has at his practice, Water’s Edge Dental in South Daytona.

“My job is public speaking,” she elaborates. “I work at the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. When you’re speaking for hours, which is what I do, it’s difficult if you’re having any kind of pain or have anything wrong with your mouth. You start to slur your speech and have problems saying certain letters and sounds.

“A couple weeks ago, a great deal of pain came on suddenly one morning. It was intense, and it came out of nowhere. Once it started, I wasn’t able to eat. I just thought about getting the pain to stop. I tried hot compresses, but they really didn’t help. I was supposed to go to work, but I couldn’t do my job if I couldn’t talk. I was absolutely miserable.”

Marielle wasted no time calling her family dentist, Sean Bannan, DDS, of Water’s Edge Dental in South Daytona. The dentist scheduled an emergency appointment for her within hours of her phone call.

As soon as Marielle arrived at his office, Dr. Bannan gave her medication, which took the edge off the pain. The dentist then tested her teeth, but couldn’t determine the source of the pain, and Marielle couldn’t identify it, either.

“Dr. Bannan was tapping on my teeth and using cold, trying to determine which one was the problem tooth, and he couldn’t,” relates Marielle. “I wasn’t reacting over any particular tooth. I was in a lot of pain just sitting there. It was coming and going, and my mouth was sore.”

Visualizing Depth

At Water’s Edge Dental, 3-D images are possible thanks to the cone beam CT scanner Dr. Bannan has in his office. With the cone beam CT scanner, he can get amazingly detailed views of his patients’ facial bones and teeth. These images allow him to make accurate diagnoses, especially in complex cases, and develop more precise treatment plans.

Unlike traditional x-ray images, which are flat, cone beam CT scanners rotate around the patient’s head, capturing data in multiple layers using a cone-shaped x-ray beam. The machine then digitally compiles the layers into the 3-D images.

“He’s got special, three-dimensional x-rays, so he was able to get a better picture of what was going on inside and identify what I needed to have done,” describes Marielle. “After he took the x-rays, he showed them to me and explained very thoroughly what was going on in my mouth.”

“Our cone beam scanner enables us to look at our patients in three dimensions to really see what’s inside,” confirms Dr. Bannan. “It allows us to examine not only the vertical and horizontal properties of the area being imaged, but also the depth of the tissues we want to examine.

“With this technology, we can localize infections that might otherwise go undetected, and identify and accurately measure pathology, such as cysts or tumors. We can also visualize vital structures, such as arteries and nerves, prior to removing teeth. This way, we know exactly where those structures are before beginning the extraction process.”

Dr. Bannan points out how Marielle’s case is a great example of how the third dimension can play a big role in making a diagnosis in more difficult situations.

“Marielle had been having some generalized, nondescript pain on one side of her face,” he describes. “She couldn’t pinpoint which tooth was hurting, and I couldn’t identify it clinically. I took traditional, two-dimensional x-rays and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary on those.

“I then did a three-dimensional imaging study on her using the cone beam CT, and lo and behold, I found a very large infection around a tooth that previously had a root canal. Being able to look at her mouth layer by layer in depth, I was able to uncover this infection that otherwise I wasn’t able to visualize or localize.”

“He found a tooth with an infection that needed to be re-root canaled,” shares Marielle. “Dr. Bannan quickly referred me to the dentist who did the original root canal, and he’s taking care of it. Once the root canal is finished, Dr. Bannan is going to put a crown on that tooth.”

Had Dr. Bannan not found and treated Marielle’s infection quickly, it could have resulted in a potentially life-threatening disorder. Having the ability to get the 3-D images right in his office, he could give her the necessary treatment right away.

The pain I had is gone. Now, I have no trouble speaking at all. – Marielle

“We were also able to get her referral to the specialist taken care of immediately, and she was able to go right in and have her treatment started,” he notes. “She didn’t have to go through an initial consultation and get a diagnosis. We allowed her to skip one appointment; we streamlined her experience and got her the care she needed.”

In addition to assisting with diagnostics, the 3-D images can be utilized when placing replacement teeth by enabling guided procedures, which show critical structures and anatomic landmarks for dentists to maintain or avoid. Using the images, dentists can also predictably and confidently perform surgery within a much shorter time frame, which is better for the patients overall.

Positive Approach

With the help of the images from his cone beam CT scanner, Dr. Bannan made the correct diagnosis for Marielle and initiated the appropriate care. With her infection healed, Marielle’s pain disappeared.

“The pain I had is gone,” she states. “Now, I have no trouble speaking at all.”

Marielle has been a patient of Dr. Bannan since he’s been with the dental practice, and she’s thrilled with the exceptional care she receives from him. She likes how he’s proactive about her dental health, as well as treating any issues that may arise.

“Dr. Bannan makes sure everything is aligned properly,” she comments. “Sometimes, he’ll have me come in if there’s a tooth that’s hitting another one because it’ll cause pain or make me unable to speak clearly. He’s very good about making sure everything is just right.”

She’s also very pleased with Dr. Bannan’s caring approach to his patients. She finds him thoughtful, easy to talk with, and sensitive to patients’ needs and concerns.

“Dr. Bannan is a very kind and gentle man, and he has no problem explaining things,” she reports. “There’s never a stupid question, which I appreciate, and he doesn’t mind taking the time to go into details. I have a Master’s degree in biology, so I ask a lot of questions. Sometimes, they’re out of the norm of what most people ask, but he’s really patient in answering them.

“Dr. Bannan is very positive. It’s always, We’ve got this, and we’re going to deal with it. Then, he comes up with solutions.

“I definitely recommend Dr. Bannan and Water’s Edge Dental!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Stock photos from istockphoto.com.
*Name withheld at patient’s request.

Fixed and Functional

Bridges and implants are excellent options for replacing missing teeth.

Terry Bracy is a familiar face on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. From 1966 to 1976, he was an aide to former Congressman Morris K. Udall of Arizona. He later served as chair of the board of the Udall Foundation and founded a public relations and lobbying firm in Washington for which he still works on a part-time basis.

Dr. Stephen Lester of Park Avenue Dentistry in Edgewater created fixed bridges and restored an ailing implant for Terry Bracy.

Terry needs a big, bright smile as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

“I was born and raised in St. Louis, then took a graduate fellowship at the University of Arizona in Tucson,” relates Terry. “That’s where I met Congressman Udall, who brought me to Washington to work for him. I’ve lived there all my adult life, but now my wife and I come down to Florida for three months in the winter – January, February and March.”

At 74, Terry began to have issues with his teeth, most of which he blamed on his age. He also had dental work done years ago that was failing and needed to be repaired or replaced.

“I developed, as most people do as they get into their seventies, some chronic dental problems. I had a dental implant that didn’t work very well and needed to be fixed or replaced. I had a few broken teeth and a few that had to be extracted. My two front teeth were knocked out playing football when I was young, and the caps that were there had eroded and needed to be replaced or fixed.

“I was having trouble chewing with several of my teeth. I wasn’t in pain, but I had some unpleasant episodes with my teeth. When I was getting caps on a couple of them, the dentist had to do root canals first.”

Terry had been receiving dental services in Washington, but was unsatisfied with the care he was receiving. This year, he decided to use his time in Florida to try a new dentist to see if he could get improved results. Stephen P. Lester, DDS, of Park Avenue Dentistry in Edgewater came highly recommended.

“Dr. Lester had done a wonderful job for my mother-in-law, who is one hundred years old and still going strong,” states Terry. “She recommended him very highly. I was impressed when I met with Dr. Lester because he wanted to create a strategic plan for my entire dental situation.

“For me, getting my teeth fixed was more of a health matter than a cosmetic matter. My teeth were dying. When Dr. Lester looked at them, he decided the better part of wisdom was to pull a couple and replace them with bridges. He brought out pictures of various types of bridges, which gave me a good sense of what they would look like. I really appreciated that because no other dentist has ever done anything like that for me.”

Bridging Gaps

“When Terry first came to us, he had a front tooth that was broken and not savable,” describes Dr. Lester. “He also had a back tooth, a molar, that had broken and was not fixable. His implant was ailing.”Dr. Stephen Lester of Park Avenue Dentistry in Edgewater placed dental implants for Marian Ford and created a single-visit crown using the E4D® CAD/CAM system for Nancy Davis.

Two options for replacing missing teeth are bridges and dental implants. A bridge is an appliance that spans the gap where a tooth or teeth are missing. It attaches to natural teeth with replacement teeth in between. Dental implants are screw-like posts placed into the jawbone that serve as the roots of teeth. Replacement teeth are securely fastened to them.

“Bridges and implants are both excellent treatments,” grants Dr. Lester. “The dentist takes many factors into consideration, including the patient’s general health and personal health habits, to determine which option is more appropriate. The dentist will then use his or her expertise to help the patient make an informed decision about which option to choose.”

For Terry, the decision was made to create fixed bridges to replace two teeth Dr. Lester extracted, one in the front and one in the back. At Park Avenue Dentistry, getting a bridge is a smooth process, and Dr. Lester makes sure his patients never have to leave the office without teeth in their mouths.

“I removed Terry’s broken front tooth and made him a fixed bridge to replace it,” confirms Dr. Lester. “I did the same for the back tooth. I removed it and made a fixed bridge there as well.

“Typically, I take out the teeth and create a bridge in one appointment. Creating the finished product is a laboratory procedure, but I make temporary devices for the patients to wear while they’re healing and the final bridges are being made. We don’t ever let our patients go toothless.”

Dr. Lester made a removable partial for Terry. For most of his patients, he makes molds and then temporary bridges that include the missing teeth. That way, patients still look good until they come back to Park Avenue Dentistry for their permanent bridges.

Restoring Implants

Dental implants are placed into the patient’s jawbone, where they fuse with the bone to create a solid foundation for the replacement teeth. They should be brushed and flossed daily, the same as natural teeth, but people with implants do need to see their dentists regularly to make sure the implants remain healthy and secure.

In most cases, dental implants last for many years with no complications or problems. Sometimes, however, an implant can loosen or even fail if the health of the jaw changes.

“With Terry’s ailing implant, the bone holding it in place was disappearing from the top down,” explains Dr. Lester. “It’s not a common occurrence, but it’s a real problem that does happen.

“I’m glad I took the time, made the investment and went to the right person: Dr. Lester.” – Terry

“In cases like Terry’s, the bone around the implant starts to disappear from the gum side of the implant and continues downward. This creates a saucer-shaped, crater-like defect that grows over time. Eventually, if it’s not treated, bone loss continues and inflammation and infection occur until the implant is lost.”

In addition, the threads on the screw-like implants become bogged down with bacteria and infected soft tissue. New bone cannot grow back on the implant because these substances are in the way.

“Fortunately, we have an advanced method of treating ailing implants,” assures Dr. Lester. “It’s a surgical procedure using a laser. During the procedure, I open up the patient’s gums in order to access the implant, and then remove the infected or irritated soft tissue growing around the implant.

“I also treat the surrounding bone in the crater-like defect with the laser. Typically, after completing those steps, I perform a bone graft to insert bone to fill in that area.”

It takes at least six months before Dr. Lester can really judge if this procedure has been successful in growing new bone around the implant. The new bone growth can be visualized on x-ray.

“We’ve just done this on Terry, so it hasn’t been long enough yet to see any results, but we’re optimistic it will be successful,” offers Dr. Lester.

“Patients with implants need to have regular visits with their dentists,” he stresses. “When they can observe the implants, dentists can detect if one is losing bone. If so, the problem can be treated early. Once a lot of bone is lost, it’s very difficult to get it back.”

First-Rate Team

Terry does a lot of smiling doing public relations and lobbying in Washington, but he became distressed at the way his teeth deteriorated as he aged. After Dr. Lester completed his strategic dental plan for him, Terry is happy with his teeth once again.

Dr. Stephen Lester of Park Avenue Dentistry in Edgewater created fixed bridges and restored an ailing implant for Terry Bracy.

Dr. Lester (left) created a strategic plan to include all of Terry’s dental needs.

“The results are a big improvement,” he comments. “My smile is great. My chewing ability is just perfect. I eat everything – fish, meat, poultry, everything. The implant seems better, but the surgery was just a week ago.

“It was time to do something about my teeth, and I’m glad I did. I’m glad I took the time, made the investment and went to the right person: Dr. Lester. He did a heck of a job. I’m really pleased.”

It took Terry several visits to Park Avenue Dentistry to have all his dental work completed. He didn’t mind, however. The staff impressed him and made his experience comfortable and positive.

“Dr. Lester has done himself a favor by hiring a terrific staff,” says Terry. “When you walk into Park Avenue Dentistry, you feel you’re in a really professional organization, and you are. Dr. Lester and his staff are among the most professional individuals I’ve run into in a very long time.

“I certainly recommend Dr. Lester and his team; they’re first-rate!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Nerissa Johnson. Dr. Lester photo courtesy of Park Avenue Dentistry.

Like Walking on a Cloud

Novel treatment replaces lost padding to cushion the foot while standing and walking.

It is believed, states the US National Institutes of Health, that the average person with an 80-year life span will walk the distance of the world twice in their lifetime! Age and mileage like that put tremendous strain on the natural protective framework of the feet.

Novel treatment replaces lost padding to cushion the foot while standing and walking.

Dr. Kirby has expertise in treating disorders of the foot, ankle and lower leg.

“The main problem is that the fat pad that cushions the bones and the bottom part of the foot wears away over time,” explains Pamela Kirby, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist. “This is called fat pad atrophy, and it can lead to significant pain and even breakdowns in the skin.”

Fat pad atrophy is the thinning or shifting of the fat stores over the heads of the metatarsal bones, the bones that make up the ball of the foot. The fat pad acts as a shock absorber to cushion the bones and defuse forces during weight bearing, such as when standing or walking. It also protects the underlying tendons, muscles, nerves and blood vessels.

When age or another condition destroys or displaces this protective fat layer, the foot is left without a shock absorber. Then, the forces created when standing and walking are transferred directly to the bones and other tissues. This irritates the tissues and leads to pain, inflammation and, ultimately, skin ulcer formation.

“Age is the most common cause of fat pad atrophy, but there are other contributing factors,” notes Dr. Kirby. “Genetics have been linked to this condition, as has diabetes-related neuropathy.

“Another risk factor is having very high arches. Wearing high heels or shoes with very thin soles, or walking barefoot a lot can trigger or worsen this condition. People with rheumatoid arthritis are also at risk.”

Pain and tenderness in the ball of the foot, especially when standing or walking, are the main symptoms of fat pad atrophy. Other signs to look for include difficulty when walking barefoot and the formation of calluses or ulcerations. The metatarsal bones may also become more prominent because the fat pad that covered them is no longer there.

On a Cloud

For those with fat pad atrophy, Dr. Kirby offers a novel, minimally invasive treatment called RADIESSE® Volumizing Filler, which is injected into the problem area of the foot. This product is designed to not only offer temporary relief, but also to provide a structure for the body to rebuild the missing tissue.

“The fillers make you feel like you are walking on a cloud,” describes Dr. Kirby. “There are usually about two weeks when patients need to stay off of their feet so the filler has time to form and to fill in the crevices and to mold. But after that, there is usually about nine months to a year and a half of relief before they need another injection.”

RADIESSE gel implants not only cushion the bones, they also provide support and protection to the tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues in the foot.

“RADIESSE gel bonds safely into the patient’s foot compartment to cushion the thin areas of the foot where the pain is originating,” states Dr. Kirby.

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Stock photo from istockphoto.com.

Goodbye, Vitiligo Spots!

Laser offers effective treatment for skin disease.

A retired paramedic captain in the New York City Fire Department EMS, Donna Kucher has seen many strange things. Still, she wasn’t prepared for the unusual white spots that began appearing on her face 15 years ago.

Jason Welch, MSN, NP-C, at Blue Ocean Dermatology in Port Orange treated Donna Kucher for vitiligo using an Excimer 308 laser.

After treatment, the white spots on Donna’s face have disappeared.

“I’m of Italian decent, so I have a dark complexion, and all of a sudden, I started seeing these white spots,” she confirms. “They were also on my hands and a few other places. I went to several doctors, and they told me it was vitiligo. I was losing the pigment in my skin.

“The doctors prescribed creams and gels, but nothing worked. I tried really thick make-up to blend in and cover them up, but that didn’t help, either.”

The spots on Donna’s face were highly visible, and she noticed people staring at her. The unwanted attention caused her to feel depressed and self-conscious and wore on her self-esteem.

“People looked at me funny like, What’s wrong with her?” she relates. “Once, I was catching a flight back to New York and was at the airport. A man came up to me, looked at my face and said, Ma’am, you look like you just got hit in the face with a snowball. Not many people know about vitiligo.”

Donna’s vitiligo first appeared when she was in New York. When she retired and moved to Florida, she hoped a dermatologist here might have an answer to her problem. At first, she got more of the same: doctors who gave her creams that didn’t work. Then, her fortune changed. She discovered Jason L. Welch, MSN, NP-C.

Jason practices at Blue Ocean Dermatology in Port Orange. He shares the practice with Nitra H. Welch, MSN, NP-C, who, like Jason, is a certified nurse practitioner specializing in dermatology, and Lawrence G. Blasik, Jr., MD, who is board certified in both dermatology and internal medicine. After meeting with Jason, Donna knew she finally found the right provider.

“Jason was really understanding. He listened to me and how I felt,” describes Donna. “He told me vitiligo is an autoimmune disease. My body is attacking my skin cells, so they’re not making any more color.

“He didn’t just throw creams at me. He said most of them don’t work. He actually went home and researched vitiligo then came back with all these articles for me to read. A couple months later, he purchased this machine called an excimer laser.

“I underwent six months of treatments with this laser, going three times a week. Every week, I saw improvement until I got to where I am right now. It’s like night and day!”

Laser Success

Vitiligo affects 7.5 million people in the United States. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system, which protects the body from disease, sees healthy cells as foreign and attacks them. With vitiligo, the  color-
producing cells of the skin, or melanocytes, are attacked and destroyed.

“We don’t know the cause of vitiligo, but we do know it sometimes occurs with other autoimmune disorders,” notes Jason. “When patients go to dermatologists with pigment changes, they first look for other disorders such as lupus, diabetes and thyroid conditions.”

Once patients are cleared of other disorders, they are generally told their skin changes are permanent and there’s no cure or effective treatment. However, a few years ago, a device came out called the Excimer 308 laser. It offers hope for people with vitiligo.

“The results are amazing. You can’t even tell on my face that I have vitiligo.” Donna

“The Excimer 308 uses a specific wavelength of light energy that goes into the skin approximately three hundred eight nanometers,” explains Jason. “That is the depth for the laser to act on the actual skin cells. It wakes them up, and the cells begin to re-
pigment the skin. It’s not a one hundred percent cure, but it does offer patients an effective treatment.

“With Donna, we used the Excimer 308 around her face, where she had vitiligo for years that was treated with no success. The treatment worked very well with her, and helped rebuild her self-confidence.”

The Excimer 308 is also effective on psoriasis and alopecia, two other autoimmune skin disorders that have been resistant to treatment in the past.

Jason Welch, MSN, NP-C, at Blue Ocean Dermatology in Port Orange treated Donna Kucher for vitiligo using an Excimer 308 laser.

Vitiligo of the neck and face

Effectively Spotless

Blue Ocean Dermatology is alone in offering the Excimer 308 in Volusia County. Donna is happy it is located right in the community where she lives. She is even more thrilled the laser was so effective in removing the white spots on her face.

“The results are amazing,” she enthuses. “You can’t even tell on my face that I have vitiligo. I never thought it could happen. The laser treatment gave me back my self-esteem and my self-confidence.”

Donna is also amazed by the care she received from Jason. He was the only one to really pay attention to her and listen to how she felt living with a disfiguring disorder.

“I can’t thank Jason enough. Nobody else took any kind of interest in helping me,” she comments. “He’s so caring, and you don’t find that a lot these days.”

In addition to his caring manner, Jason’s effort to find a way to help her also impressed Donna. She hadn’t seen that kind of dedication anywhere else.

“If Jason doesn’t have an answer for you right then, he goes and researches it on his own time and comes back to you with some way to help the problem,” offers Donna. “I didn’t find that with other dermatologists in Florida or New York.

“I would recommend Jason and Blue Ocean Dermatology in a heartbeat!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Nerissa Johnson. Graphic from istockphoto.com.

Choice Makes a Difference

The right hearing care provider can improve quality of life.

Mary “Lynn” Calcagni first began to notice changes in her hearing ability 20 years ago. She was told at the time she had a progressive hearing loss that would only get worse over time.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

The speakerphone feature helps Lynn hear even better on her cell phone.

“I started having hearing problems when we lived in Washington State during the Nineties,” recalls the Maryland native. “When we moved to DeLand eight years ago, I realized I was having a very difficult time discerning words.
“I was missing out on the content of conversations, which was very frustrating. Hearing on the phone was another big problem. Finally, I decided to have my hearing tested and get hearing aids.”
Initially, Lynn went to a local hearing aid provider to get her devices, and they chose hearing aids for her. However, she was unhappy with the provider and the hearing instruments. She made up her mind to find a more qualified hearing aid specialist.
“I got hearing aids at the first facility,” she confirms, “but the devices never really suited my needs, and I continually had problems with them. I also couldn’t get the service I really desired or needed at that facility. I called the hearing aid manufacturer and asked what other providers in the area service the type of hearing aids I had.”
The manufacturer recommended a few places in the area, but one practice stood out to Lynn. It was Hearing Aid Lab, a longstanding, family-owned business that has offices in Lake Mary and Orange City. She made an appointment and met with Elise Guzman Roubicek, BC-HIS, who operates Hearing Aid Lab with her father, Luis Guzman, BC-HIS.
“Elise showed a genuine interest in my difficulties,” notes Lynn. “She was very knowledgeable, friendly and easy to work with. She told me I had options of various types of hearing aids. I didn’t know that; the other place didn’t give me any options. They just told me this one would be the best for me, and it really wasn’t.”
After evaluating and testing Lynn, Elise determined that she had what’s called a cookie bite hearing loss. The name cookie bite refers to the shape of the curve seen on the patient’s hearing test. Most patients with hearing deficits have loss in the high frequencies, but Lynn’s loss was in the low to mid frequencies. This type of hearing loss is more challenging to correct.
To complicate matters, Lynn also has tiny, crooked ear canals that were an issue in getting devices that fit. That didn’t deter Elise.
“She searched for tips and receivers that fit my needs. I ended up with Widex® hearing aids, and I’m very happy with them,” Lynn says.

Patient Centered

“Lynn came to us last year,” remembers Elise. “She was struggling with her hearing aids. She wasn’t doing well in crowds, and was having difficulty hearing on the telephone.”
At first, Elise tried to fine-tune Lynn’s current hearing aids. After numerous attempts, she realized she had reached the limit of what could be achieved with those devices. She thought the newer technology now available might work better for Lynn, and Elise gave her the chance to do a few test runs.
“Lynn tried several hearing aids with the newer technology in her environment to get an idea of what they were like,” explains Elise. “Afterward, she chose to go with the Widex, which offers direct-to-iPhone® connectivity. Now, she is not dealing with the noise issues, and is able to hear better in noisy situations, which is a huge deal to her.
“Also, being able to hear on the telephone, which was something she wasn’t able to do with her old hearing aids, is an important improvement for her.”
“Elise said there are hearing aids with Bluetooth® connectivity, which would allow me to hear on the phone much more clearly,” comments Lynn.
Lynn’s situation is an excellent example of Hearing Aid Lab’s patient-centered mission. Their goal is to find the best hearing solution for the individual patient. Each appointment is a person-to-person encounter, and the hearing aid specialists perform thorough interviews and evaluations. This allows them to pinpoint the most appropriate product for each patient.
“Everyone’s situation is different. What works for one person may not work for the next,” informs Elise. “We specialize in getting to know our patients, finding out what their lifestyles are like and what types of environments they’re in on a day-to-day basis. We take our time to personalize the hearing aids to their needs.”
At Hearing Aid Lab, serving the patient doesn’t stop after the purchase of the hearing aids. Instead, the staff develops relationships with their patients to provide ongoing service and care.
“We do a lot of follow-up to
fine-tune the hearing aids, as well as clean and maintain the devices, which is really important,” states Elise. “It’s like getting oil changes in your car. You have to do that to keep it running.
“We’re not a big-box store, and we’re not a chain. We’re a smaller, family-owned practice, and we’re able to spend a lot of time with our patients and give them as many follow-up sessions as they need.”

Quote by Lynn Calcagni regarding Hearing Aid Lab

Choice Options

Having options amazed Lynn. She didn’t have them with the first hearing aid provider she visited. Hearing Aid Lab, however, showed her a world of possibilities and allowed her to find hearing aids that really helped her. After choosing Widex hearing aids, she is thrilled by the improvement in her hearing.
“I hear much better in conversations,” she reports. My hearing on the phone is much better as well. With the Widex, there are volume and directional controls on my phone that I can manipulate. Before, I didn’t have these controls, and every time I had a problem, I had to go back to my former provider to have adjustments made. Now, I can make minor adjustments myself.”
Choice is important to Hearing Aid Lab. They believe people need to choose the right provider for them, and their patient-centered mission makes them a good choice among local hearing aid providers. Lynn agrees. She feels Hearing Aid Lab is the right choice for her.
“It’s absolutely imperative that people find the right provider who will work with them, listen to what they have to say and take everything they say as important, and then give them options,” says Lynn. “Elise did that for me.
“I’m happy I found Hearing Aid Lab, and I’m extremely satisfied with my decision to go there. I would definitely recommend them.”

New Options, Improved Results

Today’s technology makes better hearing easier to achieve.

New York native Lois Conn worked as a registered nurse from 1965 until her retirement in 2014. Having worked primarily in an emergency room setting, Lois had been exposed to many days and nights in a busy, noisy environment. This atmosphere undoubtedly contributed to the hearing issues she began to experience later in life.Stock photo from istockphoto.com.
Lois displayed some of the traditional symptoms of hearing loss, such as keeping the TV volume high and struggling to hear in restaurants and other loud places. However, she didn’t become aware of her hearing loss until she discovered another, less common symptom.
“Everyone was telling me, You’re so attentive. You always look straight at us when we speak to you, and you don’t get sidetracked. You’re such a good friend,” she relates.
“I started asking myself how I was being so attentive, and I realized I was watching every word, every syllable, every movement of their mouths. I’d become a lip-reader. I thought, I think I have a hearing problem.
After acknowledging her hearing loss, Lois was determined to find qualified hearing professionals to help her. She chose Hearing Partners of South Florida, which has an office in Delray Beach close to her home and is staffed by doctors of audiology.
Nimet A. Adam, AuD, a board-certified doctor of audiology, is president of Hearing Partners of South Florida, a family-owned business. Dr. Adam is also a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association.
Dr. Adam leads a team of professionals that includes Dr. Arthur Zinaman,
Dr. Matthew Seldine and clinical audiologist Meredith Resnick. They see patients in Hearing Partners’ Boynton Beach office and in Delray Beach. Rounding out the team is licensed hearing aid specialist Shayne Taplin.
“Initially, Dr. Seldine, who is delightfully pleasant and eager to please, did a hearing assessment and said my hearing loss wasn’t bad enough to warrant assistance,” describes Lois. “He told me to come back in six months. I did, and when he assessed me again, he said, Now, we can start talking about hearing devices.
“We discussed all the different options, and I chose the easiest one, the one that requires zero maintenance. It’s called LYRIC™. These hearing aids are definitely easy; once every six to eight weeks, I go to Hearing Partners, they assess my ears and change the hearing aids for me.”
LYRIC are extended wear hearing aids that sit totally in the ear canal and are 100 percent invisible. They are worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week for two to three months at a time, and can be worn during daily activities such as showering and sleeping. The LYRIC hearing aids have no batteries to change, and after a few months, the hearing care provider fits the patient with new LYRIC devices.

Photo courtesy of Hearing Partners of South Florida.

Dr. Seldine examines a patient before discussing hearing aid options.

Convenience and Clarity

The hearing aid technology available today makes getting improved hearing easier than ever. Lois chose the LYRIC hearing aids because they were convenient and fit her lifestyle.
“Lois has a sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. This type of hearing loss can only be treated with a hearing device,” notes Dr. Seldine. “She likes LYRIC because they’re easy to use, and they meet her specific needs and active lifestyle better than any other device.
“In addition to the no-hassle and no-worry benefits of LYRIC, they’re also unique in that patients receive the newest technology at every appointment. This feature is included in their service plan. This ensures that our patients automatically get the latest, updated hearing devices available.”
Dr. Zinaman states, “The convenience factor of no batteries to change and no need to clean the hearing devices, combined with the clear, natural sound quality of LYRIC, are the features that attract many of our patients.”
LYRIC features advanced technology and is an option patients of Hearing Partners of South Florida are choosing. Another popular choice are digital hearing devices with rechargeable batteries, also a newer, advanced technology. These options help patients achieve better hearing that’s easier to manage.
“The newer technology is easier, since the hearing aids automatically adapt to different environments,” explains Dr. Zinaman. “There are no volume or directional buttons the patients need to adjust. The hearing aids adjust automatically according to settings we fine-tune at the office.”
“Rechargeable devices are easy as well,” offers Dr. Seldine. “Patients take them out at night, and just like cell phones, they plug them in to recharge so they will be ready for the next day. Many patients prefer this option to having to change batteries every six or seven days. Choosing the right hearing aids comes down to learning what is available and what fits the patient’s needs.”
“The rechargeable devices and LYRIC are equally good,” adds Dr. Zinaman. “The main benefits people are looking for – speech clarity and background noise reduction – are satisfied with both technologies. Because of this, people now more than ever are able to hear clearly, even in noisy or challenging situations.”

Patient Privilege

Lois is thrilled with the way Hearing Partners of South Florida helped her select her hearing aids. Their approach made the decision simple.

Photo courtesy of Hearing Partners of South Florida.

Dr. Adam volunteers to bring hearing health care to underserved areas of the world, like this clinic
in Guatemala.

“They’re wonderful at Hearing Partners,” she notes. “I was delighted from day one. They made the process very easy because they tell you what to expect. Nothing is a surprise. Everything they do is explained, including the benefits of each device they show you and how it fits into your budget and lifestyle. Whatever the topic is, they cover it.”
She is very pleased with the hearing aids she purchased. She noticed significant improvement in her hearing with the new devices in place.
“I have no problems with my hearing anymore,” reports Lois. “I can hear the TV now.”
For Lois, going to Hearing Partners of South Florida was a great decision, and working with the staff was easy and comfortable. As they do with all of their patients, the staff provided Lois with excellent care and customer service.
“I wholeheartedly recommend them,” she says. “They’re delightful. I’m happy I had the privilege of being served by Hearing Partners of South Florida.”

Allergic to Eats

May 8th, 2017

Photo Courtesy of iStockphoto.comAre you one of the more than 50 million Americans with allergies? It seems like everyone I know is an allergy sufferer, including me. It’s bad enough to get a runny nose and watery eyes at certain times of the year, but imagine having symptoms every time you put food in your mouth. That doesn’t sound good at all.

But that’s the case for four to six percent of children and four percent of adults in this country, or 15 million Americans, who the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate are currently suffering from food allergies. The latest research also shows the number of children under age 5 diagnosed with peanut allergy has increased by 100 percent.

Substances that trigger an allergic reaction are called allergens. Pretty much any food can be an allergen, but there are a few that are the biggest offenders. These eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all allergic reactions: Eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy.

There’s good news and not-so-good news when it comes to these allergens. Allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy may disappear over time, but allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to hang on for life. Also, you can develop an allergy to a food you’ve never been allergic to before. That’s a bummer!

So, what causes food allergies? These allergies are an overreaction by the body’s immune system to proteins in certain foods that it detects as foreign and attacks. The immune system reacts by triggering its white blood cells to produce food-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to neutralize the allergens.

When the allergic person eats the offending food, the IgE antibodies detect it and signal the immune system’s mast cells to release a chemical called histamine. Histamine is responsible for the symptoms of food allergies, just like it leads to the runny nose and itchy, watery eyes of respiratory allergies.

Symptoms of a food allergy can be uncomfortable, but not serious. These include a rash on the skin, tingling or itching in the mouth, lightheadedness, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and coughing.

Other symptoms can be serious and even life threatening. These include panting and wheezing; swelling of the throat, making it difficult to breath; blue lips from lack of oxygen; a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, dizziness, fainting and unconsciousness. These are some of the symptoms of a whole-body allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which is potentially deadly if not treated right away.

It’s a no-brainer that the best way to dodge food allergy symptoms is to avoid the trigger foods altogether. But even if you’re careful, you may be exposed unknowingly. The best way to prepare for any potential reaction is to have an allergy action plan, created with help from your doctor.

Education is an important part of your plan. Due to the prevalence of food allergies in this country, manufactures are required to label their products indicating if they contain any amount of the most common allergens. So learn to read labels, and don’t forget the flavorings and additives. They might contain trace amounts of the offending allergens.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask your server or the chef about the ingredients in your meals when you go out to eat. Remember, you can have a reaction even if the cooking surface or pans used to make the food have come into contact with an allergen. So, be aware and ask about how your food is being prepared.

When a person is diagnosed with a food allergy, the doctor generally prescribes an auto-injector of epinephrine to be used if symptoms of anaphylaxis occur. If they do, the person, or someone close to him or her, should inject the epinephrine into the outer thigh as soon as the symptoms appear. Then, the person needs to go immediately to an emergency room for follow-up care.

If your child has a food allergy, be sure his or her teachers and other close adults are aware and know what to do in case of a reaction. They should understand how to use the epinephrine auto-injector and to get the child to the ER right away.

We all eat. Unfortunately, it can be a risky experience for some people. You can help by being patient with people who have food allergies and learning what to do if someone close to you has a serious reaction such as anaphylaxis. Sharing what you learn is the best was to celebrate Food Allergy Action Month in May!

 

More Than Rehabilitation

HealthSouth Treasure Coast delivers full medical care.

This year, Joan Elberfeld and her husband, John, will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary. All those years ago, they promised to love each other “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”

Joan Elberfeld was treated for dehydration and low blood count at HealthSouth Treasure Coast Rehabilitation Hospital in Vero Beach.

Beth celebrates with John and Joan, who will be celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary in 2017.

During the last few years, the vow has been strengthened, as Joan, at 88, began to experience failing health and needed extra support from her family. John, with the help of his and Joan’s daughter, Beth Binkley, took on the job of caring for Joan.

Not long ago, John and Beth noticed Joan was getting increasingly listless, less responsive and more disinterested in her daily activities. According to Joan, it was nothing serious. She had a simple explanation.

“I was just not feeling well,” she states. “I was weak and queasy, and having headaches.”

Joan got progressively worse, however, and John and Beth became concerned. Eventually, Joan deteriorated so far that John and Beth began describing her condition in severe terms.

“We knew there was something wrong, but we didn’t know what it was,” notes Beth. “Mom was essentially non-functioning.”

“Joan was getting weaker, and we didn’t really know the cause,” agrees John.

The Elberfelds saw their primary care physician, who initially recommended home health care. When that modality failed, they called on Dawn Bucaj, RN, BSN, senior rehab liaison at HealthSouth Treasure Coast Rehabilitation Hospital in Vero Beach. Dawn had an established nurse-patient relationship with Joan from a previous homecare experience. When Dawn arrived, she was alarmed by Joan’s condition.

“I noted that Joan was extremely weak,” describes Dawn. “I knew if she qualified, she would benefit from going to HealthSouth right away from home. The family loved that idea because she didn’t have to go to the emergency room and wait hours or be admitted to a hospital. She could go in and get the care she needed directly from home.”

When Joan arrived at HealthSouth, the medical staff discovered that her condition was more serious than generalized weakness. Her blood level was so critical that she required immediate blood transfusions.

“When Dawn saw Joan, she immediately recognized Joan was dangerously weak,” says John. “She talked to the medical director at HealthSouth that same day. Joan was admitted the next day, and during the course of that admission, she was given a blood transfusion.”

“At HealthSouth, they found Mom was completely dehydrated and also had a severely low blood level,” confirms Beth. “She was losing blood, which is why she was so weak.”

Once Joan received the blood, she began to perk up and become stronger. She was then able to start participating in therapy activities designed to help her return to her pre-event level of functioning.

“She had physical and occupational therapy,” reports John. “Her exercise schedule was very light in the beginning because of the transfusions, but it became heavier as time went on.”

Hospital Advantages

HealthSouth Treasure Coast Rehabilitation Hospital offers many advantages over other rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes, especially for patients who have coexisting medical needs, like Joan did.

“HealthSouth is not just a rehab facility, it’s a hospital,” emphasizes Dawn. “We have physicians on staff who monitored Joan’s labs and provided the care she needed when she needed it.

“If Joan hadn’t gone to HealthSouth, she would never have known she needed blood. She thought she was simply weak and not drinking enough fluids, and the problem was part of the aging process. In addition, there was an underlying medical issue there, and because HealthSouth is a hospital, our doctors were able to evaluate and treat her for that issue.”

HealthSouth has services on site that are not available at other facilities. For example, HealthSouth has a full pharmacy and a pharmacist on staff to provide prescription medications to patients right away.

“We also have in-house dialysis,” observes Dawn. “One great thing about that is the patients can get their dialysis treatments through the night and do their rehabilitation activities during the day. There is no one or the other. In addition, patients don’t have to leave our facility to get their dialysis.

“We also have a case management department that works with patients during the course of their stay and helps them plan for their discharge. Department staff determine if the patients are able to go home or if they are going to need ongoing help, such as home health or assisted living. The department works with the patients and families and helps them connect with the resources they need.”

Another advantage, Dawn points out, is the opportunity for patients, if they qualify, to enter HealthSouth directly from home.

“Every other type of rehab facility requires a three-day hospital stay before a patient can be admitted, but because we are a hospital, that’s not required,” she explains. “Patients who are experiencing functional difficulties can call HealthSouth, and we’ll have a nurse go out the same day to evaluate them.”

Further, at HealthSouth, there is 24-hour registered nursing care with nurses who are rehab-certified.

“We provide rehab services for three hours per day, and patients receive daily medical oversight by two physicians – a physiatrist, or rehab doctor, and an internist,” notes Dawn. “This allows us to care for any additional medical conditions patients are experiencing.

“Our patients deserve that level of care, and HealthSouth is the only provider on the Treasure Coast that can provide it. It is important for patients or their loved ones to ask for us by name.”Joan Elberfeld was treated for dehydration and low blood count at HealthSouth Treasure Coast Rehabilitation Hospital in Vero Beach.

Welcomed Stay

Joan had no idea her condition was so serious when she first went to HealthSouth. When the doctor discovered her medical issue and treated it, she responded quickly and was then on the road to recovery.

“After getting the blood, I started feeling better right away,” comments Joan. “The staff made a point to tell me it was important I do the physical and occupational therapy. Every afternoon, someone walked me to a big room for therapy, and the therapists kept track of how I was doing.”

“They weren’t just keeping track,” interjects Beth. “Mom had a physical therapist who worked one-on-one with her.”

John gives kudos to the medical staff at HealthSouth as well. Without their help, Joan’s low blood level would not have been discovered and treated. They also monitored Joan’s condition throughout her stay.

“The two doctors at HealthSouth are wonderful,” states John.

With the medical treatments and the therapy she received, Joan was able to increase her strength and endurance. Once she got healthier and stronger, she was able to go home and return to her prior level of function and a better quality of life. She’s grateful to HealthSouth for helping her get there.

“The staff did a very good job,” says Joan. “They made me feel very comfortable. The care at HealthSouth was better than I could imagine. I definitely recommend HealthSouth to other people.”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos courtesy of Joan Elberfeld.

Back Pain Relief Without Surgery

Minimally invasive procedure alleviates spinal stenosis agony.

It’s been more than a year since Harry Young began to have problems with his back. The retired naval officer, a Pennsylvania native, struggled to deal with the intense pain that eventually affected him. The agony stopped him in his tracks.

Dr. Harold Cordner of Florida Pain Management Associates in Sebastian and Vero Beach treated Harry Young’s spinal stenosis with the VertiFlex® Superion® InterSpinous Spacer System.

Harry is once again riding his bike to Winn-Dixie.

“It hurt like hell,” shares Harry. “It was an aching pain that ran from my left buttock all the way down my left leg.

“I don’t get the newspaper at the house, so I walk or ride my bike to the local Winn-Dixie to get one, which is a couple of miles. I had to give that up because it was too painful to walk or ride.”

“Harry could hardly walk to the mailbox and back,” adds Harry’s wife, Romaine.

In an attempt to find relief from the agony, Harry visited an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor diagnosed Harry with spinal stenosis, and the orthopedist recommended epidural steroid injections. There was a risk, however, because Harry had to stop taking his blood thinner, and he has a history of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or mini-strokes.

“I went off the blood thinner to get the shot last year, and I had a pretty bad TIA,” relates Harry. “After I spent the night in the hospital, I said, No more steroid shots!

“My next step was going to a chiropractor. I went for several weeks, but there was no improvement. Then, I thought I’d try acupuncture, so I went to an acupuncturist and had several treatments. There was really no improvement with that, either.”

One trip to the acupuncturist proved particularly beneficial, however. During that appointment, Harry’s wife found a copy of Florida Health Care News and read about a new treatment offered by Harold J. Cordner, MD. Dr. Cordner is board certified in pain management and anesthesiology, and practices at Florida Pain Management Associates in Sebastian and Vero Beach.

“Harry was lying on the table, full of needles, and I was just sitting there waiting,” recalls Romaine. “I picked up Florida Health Care News and started looking through it. There was the article about Dr. Cordner’s procedure. I brought the paper home and showed Harry.”

The article described an alternative to surgery to relieve spinal stenosis pain when nonsurgical options, such as chiropractic care and injections, have failed. The new procedure is minimally invasive and eases the pressure on the nerves that are causing the pain.

“When I first went to Dr. Cordner and he told me I had to go off the blood thinner for the procedure, I said, No, because of the TIA I had last spring,” states Harry. “But the pain got worse to the point that I sometimes broke down and sobbed. I went back to Dr. Cordner and said, I’ve got to take the chance.”

Implant Alternative

Traditionally, treatment for spinal stenosis begins with nonsurgical steps, such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and steroid injections. When all nonsurgical efforts have failed, surgery is generally the next step.Dr. Harold Cordner of Florida Pain Management Associates in Sebastian and Vero Beach treated Harry Young’s spinal stenosis with the VertiFlex® Superion® InterSpinous Spacer System.

“Harry came to me with complaints of back and leg pain,” observes Dr. Cordner. “He was having difficulty standing and walking, and he wasn’t able to do most of his activities. He had severe spinal stenosis at one level, and he tried conservative treatments and epidural cortisone injections, but was still having pain.

“As a next treatment, Harry would have been scheduled for a decompressive laminectomy. However, he was deemed not a surgical candidate because he was too high risk to undergo back surgery. Harry’s condition was complicated further because he was on a blood thinner, and his physicians did not want him to go off it for that long.”

During a laminectomy, the surgeon removes some of the bone, and any bone growths and/or pieces of ligament that are compressing the nerves. Doing this opens up the space for the nerves and relieves pain. However, it requires major surgery and a lengthy recovery.

Dr. Cordner offers an alternative to laminectomy. It’s a minimally invasive procedure to treat patients with spinal stenosis. The ideal candidate for this procedure is a patient who has back and leg pain that is relieved by bending forward or sitting.

These are the people who are walking in the stores leaning over their shopping carts or who have to lean on the counter while standing, which relieves the pain.

“The procedure uses an implanted device that decompresses the spine,” informs Dr. Cordner. “The device goes in and opens up, enlarging the space where the spinal nerves exit, as well as the central canal.”

The device is the VertiFlex® Superion® InterSpinous Spacer System. The Superion spacer is an H-shaped implant made of a titanium alloy that fits between two adjacent bones in the lower back. It is designed to limit movement of the spine when the patient stands and walks, and to open up the nerve spaces, relieving symptoms.

“During the implant procedure, a small incision is made in the back and some tissue is cleared out between the vertebrae,” explains Dr. Cordner. “The device is inserted through a small tube about the size of a dime. As it is engaged, two arms emerge that push the bones of the spine apart, and that creates more room inside the spinal canal and the nerve openings, relieving symptoms.”

There are now five years of data to support the effectiveness of the Superion InterSpinous Spacer. They show leg pain was reduced 79 percent, and patient satisfaction was 87 percent.

“Thus far, there have been no patients whose conditions have deteriorated after this procedure, which certainly can happen with back surgery,” stresses Dr. Cordner.

“The Superion is the only FDA-approved, standalone device for the treatment of moderate lumbar spinal stenosis. It is Medicare approved, and I am the only physician in Indian River County certified to do this procedure.

“Harry’s procedure went extremely well, and the next day, he was able to walk, stand and do many of his activities. It was an excellent option for him. He did have to go off his blood thinner for a short time, just a few days. He was able to start back up again the next day.”

Absolute Progress

Implanting the Superion device is a simple, outpatient procedure with less tissue damage and blood loss than surgery, and a rapid recovery time.

Dr. Harold Cordner of Florida Pain Management Associates in Sebastian and Vero Beach treated Harry Young’s spinal stenosis with the VertiFlex® Superion® InterSpinous Spacer System.

It was Harry’s wife, Romaine, who discovered the article on Dr. Cordner’s procedure.

“I was in and out the same day,” confirms Harry. “I’m quite pleased with the whole experience.”

Harry is already seeing positive results. He’s started back to his activities and plans to expand his pursuits as his recovery advances.

“Yesterday, I rode my bike to Winn-Dixie and back,” he notes, “and I intend to start walking and riding my bike more. I’m delighted by my progress.”

“He can walk to the mailbox now,” offers Romaine.

Harry is thrilled with Dr. Cordner and the results of the implant procedure thus far.

“I’m feeling much, much better,” he reports. “It’s such a marked improvement. In fact, I wrote a letter to Dr. Cordner thanking him for his efforts and expertise.

“My back is absolutely great,” he says. “I’m one happy camper!”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz. Product photos courtesy of Florida Pain Management Associates.

Diagnosing Relationships

Mysterious condition revealed through listening.

Stephen Box made a good living in the cheeseburger business. He opened a single restaurant in his native Texas that grew so popular he started franchising. Stephen worked hard to make his business a success, but even after he retired and moved to Florida, he was a bit of a worrier.

 Dr. Alfons Bucaj of Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach diagnosed Stephen Box’s jaw muscle tightness as the cause of his headaches by listening and getting to know him.

Now that he’s sleeping better, Stephen feels well enough to work on his house.

One of Stephen’s first concerns when he moved south seven years ago was finding a new dentist. His wife began researching providers in the area and was most impressed by Alfons Bucaj, DMD, of Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach. The dentist made a good impression on Stephen as well.

“Dr. Bucaj is very thorough,” he notes. “He’s not like most doctors who see you in the office for five minutes and then you’re out the door. He doesn’t treat you that way at all. During my appointments, he examines everything in my mouth and even looks down my throat. He provides very comprehensive care.”

Initially, Stephen’s dental needs were simple – routine cleanings, a new filling here, a crown there. But last July, Stephen began getting terrible headaches and pain in his right temple that hampered his routine.

Stephen was worried about delays and complications with the house he was having built, and the stress was making his headaches worse. He wound up in the emergency room, where they could find nothing wrong with him.

Stephen then sought the help of his family doctor, who recommended a neurologist. The specialist ordered an MRI and didn’t see anything suspicious. He prescribed a muscle relaxant, which didn’t help. Neither physician could find a cause for the headaches, or a solution.

“Things were not going well,” relates Stephen. “I was eating, but I lost some of my appetite because I always felt sick. My eyes would close because of the pain, and they would twitch. I was not sleeping. I’d wake up at three o’clock in the morning.

“When I went to Dr. Bucaj for a filling, he looked at me and said, Stephen, tell me what’s going on. I explained how it took hours before the pain eased up enough to get going with my day. He listened intently to everything I said. Then, he started massaging my jaw, even though the pain was in my temple. He told me my jaw muscle was as hard as a fist.”

While describing his symptoms to Dr. Bucaj, Stephen and the dentist realized Stephen had been grinding his teeth at night. Before he retired, Stephen often stressed over business, and now he was fretting about his house. The strain led to the grinding. Dr. Bucaj also noticed damage to Stephen’s teeth from years of grinding.

Dr. Bucaj then performed a comprehensive examination of Stephen’s mouth. When he was done, he told Stephen his headaches stemmed from his jaw muscles. They were excessively tight, which led to his discomfort.

“I never knew tightness in the muscles of my jaw area could go up to my temple and cause pain and affect my eyes,” states Stephen.

“Dr. Bucaj started doing some restoration in my mouth. He put porcelain caps on the teeth that were damaged, and he’s making a night guard for me that will take care of my grinding problem.

“I am amazed by Dr. Bucaj’s wisdom in my situation – to determine the diagnosis when medical doctors could not.”

Relationship Building

“Stephen was experiencing suspicious pain on the right side of his head,” confirms
Dr. Bucaj. “He was having trouble sleeping as a result, and he was placed on muscle relaxants without a definitive diagnosis.

“He was evaluated by his primary care physician and a neurologist, who looked at the problem from a medical perspective.”

With insurance regulations restricting health care providers, it’s difficult for them to have time to sit and talk at length with their patients. However, Dr. Bucaj argues, providers need to thoroughly assess their patients and get to know them. He stresses the importance of making the most of the time they do have.

“We need to listen to them describe what’s happening to their bodies, because symptoms are subjective,” says Dr. Bucaj. “Instead, we look at problems objectively and take down data regarding the signs because we only have a short time to spend with patients.

“By getting to know your patients, you develop a lifelong relationship with them,” emphasizes Dr. Bucaj. “They build trust in you and your opinions because of that relationship. That can help you get to the real cause of some complex health problems.

“Stephen was very descriptive about what was going on with him. By talking to him about his symptoms, I was able to determine that he has a history of clenching and grinding his teeth. That made me look at his headaches from a dental perspective.”

Dr. Bucaj explains that everything in the head is connected dentally. The muscles of the neck, jaw and back of the head are all linked. When people have problems with clenching and grinding, they will often experience pain on the side of the head and jaw, as well as sensitive and broken teeth.

“Dr. Bucaj diagnosed me just by listening to me, and he saved my life.” – Stephen

“It’s difficult for physicians and dentists to evaluate jaw muscle tightness if they’re not looking for it,” he observes. “By listening to Stephen describe his symptoms, I was able to determine the cause of his chronic headaches.”

Stephen had several broken teeth from his clenching and grinding, which Dr. Bucaj repaired. The dentist is also creating for him a custom-made night guard.

“A night guard is an appliance made of hard acrylic material that is placed over the teeth to separate them,” describes
Dr. Bucaj. “Because the teeth can’t touch, it breaks the pattern of clenching and grinding while sleeping. It protects the teeth and helps the patient sleep better.”

Life-Saving Care

Stephen is thrilled by his experience with Dr. Bucaj at Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach.

“That Dr. Bucaj sat there and listened to me and was able to determine the diagnosis still floors me,” he comments. “I don’t know how he came up with it, but he knew I wasn’t sleeping and my jaw muscle wasn’t relaxing. That was a miracle!

“Also, to help me de-stress, he tells me, Go to sleep, quit worrying about the house and things will work out. I’ve already started improving.”

When Stephen’s wife initially found Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach, she and Stephen noted Dr. Bucaj’s outstanding credentials and reviews. The dentist has lived up to his billing.

“He’s a good man who helped me out, but he’s always been a good man,” notes Stephen. “Dr. Bucaj diagnosed me just by listening to me, and he saved my life.

“Without a doubt,
I recommend Dr. Bucaj and Dental Implant Center of Vero Beach,” he adds. “You’re not going to find a better dentist.”

FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz.
Page 1 of 17
1 2 3 4 5 6 17