Author Archive

Dynamic Duo

Combination of therapies alleviates severe shoulder, back pain.

When Lyn Quarantello retired from her job as a financial planner five years ago, she started devoting more time to her favorite hobbies. Those include cooking, gardening and volunteering as an usher at the local performing arts center.

Lyn’s photo courtesy of Lyn Quarantello.

Lyn Quarantello

Early last year, Lyn had to scale back on some of the gardening and even some of the cooking because of a debilitating left shoulder problem, the cause of which remains a mystery to Lyn even to this day.
“I have no idea what brought it on,’’ Lyn relates. “All I know is that one day I was fine, and the next thing I know, I’m waking up in the middle of the night in incredible pain, unable to move my left arm. I was crying, it hurt so bad.
“For a while, I tried to fight through it, but for the longest time, I couldn’t lift my arm up to put a bowl away on a shelf in the cupboard without feeling like my arm was going to give out on me. I couldn’t even reach behind me to fasten my bra.’’
The ceaseless pain in Lyn’s shoulder eventually forced her to visit her primary care physician, who gave her a shot of cortisone in the hopes it would relieve her pain. It didn’t. She then visited an orthopedic surgeon, who recommended a series of exercises.
“The exercises helped a little bit, but after a while I plateaued, so the exercises were no longer making me better,’’ Lyn reports. “It was after that that the orthopedist told me that if I couldn’t get past that plateau, I’d need to have surgery.”
Eager to avoid surgery, Lyn asked her orthopedist if she could instead visit a physical therapist she had read about in Florida Health Care News. The orthopedist said she could, so Lyn made an appointment to see the therapists at Regional Rehab in Spring Hill.

Laser Light Show

“Lyn came to us about a year after she first started to experience pain and discomfort in her left shoulder, and by then, she had what we refer to as a frozen shoulder,’’ says Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD, at Regional Rehab.
Frozen shoulder is what comes of a shoulder when the ligaments around the joint have become so tight that the shoulder cannot move normally. The lack of movement reduces the natural fluids in the shoulder that keep it lubricated and limits movement even more.
To correct the problem, Paul recommended a combination of manual therapy as well as treatments using both the Class IV deep tissue therapeutic laser and the HIVAMAT® 200 deep oscillation therapy device.

Staff photo by Jordan Pysz.


From left to right, they are: Brandi Girard, PTA; Leanna Ramirez, Rehab Tech; Gregory Vazquez, Practice Manager; Christine Donley, Administrator/Owner; Charles C. Donley, PT/ Owner; Paul A. Ernandes, PT, PhD.; Marieva Ernandes, Administrative Assistant; Phil Prouty, Finance Manager; Kyle Benders, PTA; Glenn Guterman, PTA and Jessica Ramos, PTA.

The Class IV laser uses specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal cells. It works by releasing nitric oxide, which removes congestion and swelling, promotes rapid healing and reduces discomfort while increasing blood circulation.
The HIVAMAT 200 creates gentle impulses that relax muscles and penetrate all tissue layers to remove all the inflammatory byproducts from the cells that cause pain but are not part of the cells’ natural makeup.
“The Class IV laser in particular is an impressive and versatile tool,” adds Charles Donley, PT, director of Regional Rehab. “We use it for burn and wound patients as well as for all the different musculoskeletal issues we typically treat, such as acute, chronic and postoperative pain.”

A Sound Suggestion

Shirley Dillon can attest to the versatility of the Class IV laser. An extremely active 72-year-old who walks two miles a day and not only participates in but often teaches aquatic aerobics classes, Shirley was recently sidelined by severe back pain.
“I was making the bed one day, and all I did was lean over a little bit to get the blankets off a foot stool that sits at the end of the bed, and this terrible pain shot through my back,’’ Shirley explains. “After that, I couldn’t get out of that hunched position.”
Shirley sought medical attention within a couple of days of suffering the injury and eventually learned from an orthopedist that she had suffered a severe lower back strain. That same orthopedist suggested she visit Regional Rehab for her recovery therapy.
Shirley’s first visit to Regional Rehab was with Charles, whose examination revealed several causes of her back pain, including tenderness in the sacroiliac joint, which connects the spine to the pelvis, extreme tightness in her quadriceps muscles and her flexed posture.
Just as Paul did with Lyn, Charles recommended a combination of manual therapy as well as therapy with the Class IV laser and HIVAMAT 200 for Shirley, who responded almost immediately to this trio of therapeutic remedies.
“We worked on loosening up the quadriceps so that she could stand a little taller, which decreased the stress on her lumbar spine,’’ Charles reports. “Once we got her posture a little straighter and reduced the inflammation, her treatment was complete after about six sessions.”
“I felt like I could have stopped the therapy after just three sessions because I had no more back pain. I felt like I could go back to doing the things I normally do every day,’’ Shirley reports.
“I went ahead and stuck it out for three more sessions just to be sure. It was after that sixth session that they told me there was really no reason for me to come back because I could bend over and do all the things I need to do without any pain.”
Lyn offers a similar report regarding her left shoulder. She says she set a goal of being able to put dishes away on shelves above her head without feeling as if her arm was going to give out on her, and she can do that now.
“I can also reach behind me to grab something or fasten my bra without pain,’’ she adds. “And my range of motion is even better now than it was before my shoulder started hurting. I’m at full functionality again, which is where I need to be.
“What they do is really amazing, and I say the same about Charles and Paul. They are both so caring, and they work very well with you. They do all the things you’d want people who do this for a living to do.”
Shirley agrees, saying, “If I had to go there again, I would without any hesitation. Charles and Paul are so friendly and helpful and so is everyone else. They took great care of me, and I recommend them to anyone.”

Life Saver

Medical weight-loss program brings healthy results.

At 56 years of age, Jody Musto is not so far removed from his youth that he can’t remember that time in his life when he was a healthy, 250-pound shot-putter and discus thrower on an area track team.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Jody Musto – AFTER

“I was into physical fitness back then and was always outside doing something,” Jody reveals. “My family lived about two miles from town, but instead of driving or being driven there, whenever I went into town, I always walked. That’s how active I was.”
Jody remained physically active well into his high-school years. It wasn’t until his late teens, after he took a job at a restaurant, that his activity level began to wane. It was also around that time that he began putting on weight. Lots of weight.
“Part of the problem was that once I started working in the restaurant, I stopped eating right,” Jody says. “At first, I tried dieting, and of course I tried all the fad diets, but none of them worked. Then, in 1981, I had gastric bypass surgery.”
Gastric bypass surgery is a weight-loss procedure in which the functional volume of the stomach is reduced. It’s designed to alter the way the body absorbs and digests food. In Jody’s case, those changes didn’t result in weight loss; they resulted in further weight gain.
“The surgery was experimental at the time, and the doctor who did mine more or less botched it,” Jody reveals. “It wasn’t done the right way, so I started putting on more weight. I eventually got up to five hundred and fifty pounds.”
In addition to his weight gain, Jody also developed dumping syndrome, a condition where certain foods, especially those rich in table or fruit sugar, travel through the stomach and into the small bowel too quickly, causing nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
In time, Jody grew so heavy that several of the vertebrae in his lower back were crushed. That and severe knee pain, also caused by his weight gain, left him completely disabled and eventually forced him to give up his job as a car salesman.
It was after he lost his job and became disabled that Jody began looking for a better solution to his weight problem. He found it in 2003 in the office of Eihab H. Tawfik, MD, who is now associated with West Florida Internal Medicine & Multi-Specialty Group.

Been There, Done That

Dr. Tawfik is a board-eligible internist who, based on his own experience with excess weight, developed a weight-loss program that uses a combination of diet, exercise and proper doses of appetite suppressants and vitamin injections to control metabolism.
“During medical school and my residency, I found it very difficult to lose weight,” recalls Dr. Tawfik. “I was overweight, and once I started practicing, I realized the importance of controlling what I was eating and the size of the portions as well.
“I also realized that a patient should not come to a weight-loss center and see a doctor who is overweight himself. So, I did something about my weight because I want to be an example to all the patients I serve.”

Before image courtesy of Jody Musto.

Jody Musto – BEFORE

Dr. Tawfik’s program calls for patients to spend the first five days eating a very lean protein-based diet. That is followed by another five-day stretch in which the patient eats a higher-calorie protein diet.
“Patients typically lose up to ten pounds that first week, with an average weight loss after four weeks ranging between twenty and thirty pounds,” Dr. Tawfik says. “In addition to the weight loss, this program changes our patients’ eating habits, which supports the development of a longer, healthier life.”
Prior to placing a patient on his program, Dr. Tawfik always meets with and reviews the patient’s medical and dietary history. He measures their weight, body fat index and performs an EKG to help develop a diet tailored specifically to each patient’s needs.
In Jody’s case, Dr. Tawfik’s testing revealed the issues associated with Jody’s gastric bypass surgery. That resulted in Jody undergoing yet another gastric bypass procedure to repair the problems caused by the first.
Dr. Tawfik’s testing also revealed that Jody was pre-diabetic and part of his weight gain was due to a lack of Vitamin B12. Armed with the knowledge gained through his research,
Dr. Tawfik customized a dietary program that worked wonders for Jody.

“Comfortable” Weight

“Once I had that second surgery, the weight started to come off,” Jody reports. “Since I started seeing Dr. Tawfik, I’ve lost about three hundred pounds, and I can gladly say that I’m at a point now at about two hundred and fifty pounds where I’m comfortable with my weight.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

“Since I started seeing Dr. Tawfik, I’ve lost about three hundred pounds, and I can gladly say that I’m at a point now at about two hundred and fifty pounds where I’m comfortable with my weight.” -Jody

“I still have some other medical issues – the dumping syndrome, for example. But Dr. Tawfik does a great job of following those issues for me and making sure that everything in my diet is right so that things don’t get crazy.”
Jody has been following Dr. Tawfik’s diet program for more than a decade. During that time, Dr. Tawfik has adjusted the program to be sure Jody is receiving the right amount of the right foods and vitamins to keep him as fit and healthy as possible.
“He makes it real easy,” Jody reports. “You go in, and he tells you what you need. Another thing I really like is that he doesn’t make you feel guilty if you put on a few pounds or you aren’t exactly doing what’s right.

“Without Dr. Tawfik, I might not be alive today.” – Jody

“He has a very good way of showing you what the benefits of the program are and explaining the success you can have if you stick to it. And he does a great job of monitoring everything so that if you’re deficient in anything, he can take care of that.”
Jody visits Dr. Tawfik about once a month for check-ups, and it was during one of those check-ups several years ago that Dr. Tawfik detected something that gravely concerned him. His concern was warranted when it was learned Jody had kidney cancer.
“Without Dr. Tawfik, I might not be alive today,” Jody says. “Thanks to him, everything has worked out, and I’m living a far more comfortable and enjoyable life. He’s always there for you. It’s like, whatever you need, he’ll take care of it.
“As far as his weight-loss program goes, well, I’m living proof that it works and works well. I know a lot of other people who have tried other weight-loss programs without their doctor’s supervision, and they just don’t do as well on theirs as I do on this one.”

An Ideal Solution

Customized weight-loss program improves health, vitality.

All through high school and well into early adulthood, Shelley Maldonado’s passion for and continued participation in gymnastics kept her trim and in tip-top shape. Then, as she puts it, “life got in the way” and that healthy appearance disappeared.

Shelley Maldonado found the solution to her weight gain problem after finding Dr. Ravi and beginning the Ideal Protein® Protocol.

Dr. Ravi (left) says her patients have had “lots of success” with the Ideal Protein program.

“I had two children and after that, I sort of lost my way a little bit,” professes the 47-year-old insurance claims supervisor.

“I’d look in the mirror and think, Okay, that’s not too bad. Then one day, a friend of mine posted some pictures of me and her on the internet, and when I saw them, I thought, Oh my gosh! I had no idea I’d gotten so big.”

Shelley’s startling realization sparked a search for a diet program that would help her regain the look she was once so proud of. At first, she asked a few friends at work who had recently lost some weight what was working for them.

“Then one day, I was driving somewhere and saw this place,” the Lakeland resident explains. “I have to be honest. I really don’t know what it was that made me walk through the door that day. What I can tell you is that it was one of the best things I ever did.”

The door Shelley walked through that day was the entrance to the practice of Himagiri Ravi, MD, a weight loss management specialist who recently renamed her practice and moved it from Lakeland to Boynton Beach.

Now known as L.I.V. Medical Weight Loss & Aesthetics, Dr. Ravi’s practice focuses on improving each patient’s individual wellness through an array of services, including medically supervised weight loss, hormone replacement therapy and anti-aging treatments.

Safe, Effective

The weight loss program Dr. Ravi endorses is Ideal Protein®. A four-phase ketogenic weight loss and lifestyle program, Ideal Protein is designed to help patients lose weight safely and effectively while improving their health and vitality.

In addition to fostering better appetite control, improving blood sugar and cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure counts, Ideal Protein also helps patients develop and maintain eating habits that become second nature to them.

Those goals are achieved through customized meal plans that help to burn stored fat and preserve lean muscle by emphasizing high-quality proteins that are easily absorbed and limiting the amount of sugars and dietary fats that are taken in.

“Most patients do like to eat protein more than carbs or sugars,” Dr. Ravi explains. “And with Ideal Protein, they can eat all kinds of proteins, including eggs, white fish, turkey and chicken, and they eat four ounces of whatever that protein is at each meal.

“They eat that in association with some vegetables and some selected fruits that they can also have as a snack. That gives the participant enough calories to make them feel as if their stomach is full, which helps them get through their day.”

Because the program removes most of the dairy, grains and a lot of fruits from their diet, Ideal Protein participants need to take a multivitamin and also potassium, fish oil and calcium supplements to ensure they receive an adequate amount of minerals each day.

Participants in the Ideal Protein Protocol are also encouraged to exercise regularly. To aid them in that endeavor, participants are given a booklet that shows them a variety of exercises that can be done to help them burn more calories.

“Some of the exercises can even be done while someone is sitting down and watching TV,” reports Dr. Ravi, who has been recommending Ideal Protein for patients looking to lose weight for more than a dozen years.

“It’s an active management of diet, exercise and healthy behavioral changes, and with the exception of the home exercises, everything is done in the office, including the initial blood work. Even the prescriptions are dispensed in our office.

“We’ve set it up so that the patient can just walk in and take the bag that he or she needs to go along with their weight loss program and go about their day. It’s a great program, and my patients have had lots of success with it.”

My Rock, My Angel

Shelley is one of those success stories. She says she struggled at first to stick to the diet limitations but that constant encouragement from Dr. Ravi helped her get through the transition period and into a habit of eating healthier.

“She explained to me that in order to rebuild your metabolism, you first have to break it down,” Shelley says. “That’s what you’re doing the first two weeks you’re on the program, and Dr. Ravi really helped me to understand portion size and things like that.

“She told me four ounces is about what you can fit in the palm of your hand, so I use that as a guide for that part of it. She also told me that you’re really not giving anything up on this program. You just can’t have some of those things every day.

“There was one time when I was really craving a baked potato, and she said, Okay, go ahead and have a baked potato. But you can only have half of it. Then, you can’t have one again for a month. That actually helped me a lot because it made sense to me.”

Combined with Dr. Ravi’s encouragement, the Ideal Protein program worked for Shelley. She says that when she first went to see Dr. Ravi, she was wearing a size 18 dress. Now that she’s graduated to the maintenance part of the program, she’s wearing a size 8 dress.

“I’m at a point now where, if I gain five pounds or something like that, I just get back on the program and remind myself, Protein, protein, protein,” Shelley says. “That’s happened a couple of times, and I’ve always lost the weight again because I know how to do it now.

“Through the Ideal Protein program and with Dr. Ravi’s help, I’ve learned how to eat right and eat healthy. I’ve also learned how a little bit of exercise can help you lose the weight and maintain the weight loss you’ve achieved.

“It’s a real simple program, and I really can’t say enough about Dr. Ravi and what a help she was to me through this. She was my rock, my angel on earth. The program works. It really does, but I don’t know if I could have done it without Dr. Ravi.”

Clean Sweep

Leading-edge therapy eliminates debilitating neck, back and shoulder pain.

If a clean home is indeed a happy and healthy home, then Alexandra Urena can take some credit for making some of the residents of Lake County happier and healthier.

Alexandra Urena finally found relief for her neck, back and shoulder pain through MCU therapy.

Alexandra Urena

A 44-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, Alexandra has been living in the United States for 13 years, the last six of which she has devoted largely to building up her residential cleaning company.

Alexandra did a lot of the cleaning herself when she first started the company, but shortly thereafter, she was forced to pare those duties down because of neck, back and shoulder pain that she believes stems from the work she did prior to arriving in America.

“In the Dominican Republic, I was the boss of a company that rented boats and took people out on the water on parasailing rides. One of the things we had to do each day was pull the boats back out of the water,” Alexandra shares.

“Those boats probably weighed three hundred or four hundred pounds each, and I helped our crew do that every day for eight years. When I was younger, I didn’t feel anything from it, but soon after I moved to Florida, I did.

“I first started to feel the pain in my neck, upper back and shoulders when I was the manager of a retail store here. Then, after five years, I started the cleaning business. That’s when I really started to feel the pain getting worse.”

The mother of a young daughter, Alexandra says her neck, back and shoulder pain made for an uncomfortable pregnancy. It also made for an incredibly long and agonizing run of sleepless nights following the pregnancy.

“When you’re in the cleaning business, you use your arms a lot and need to bend a lot, so I would come home with pain in my neck, back and shoulders thinking, It will eventually go away,” she says. “But it didn’t.

“Then one day, I woke up with a very stiff and sore neck. I couldn’t move it at all, and again I thought, Well, this will go away after a few days. But it didn’t. I waited and waited, all the time in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep, for almost two years.”

Desperate for relief, Alexandra sought aid from an urgent care doctor, a general practitioner and eventually a chiropractor, the latter of whom spent three months performing standard chiropractic adjustments that had no effect at all.

“I was in pain all day and crying at night, and I wasn’t getting any better because nothing was helping me,” Alexandra remembers. “Then one day, I saw a friend who had just finished treatment for a neck problem from a car accident.

“I told her I had been going to a chiropractor, too, and that it wasn’t helping me at all. She said, That’s because they don’t have this special neck machine that they have at the place I’ve been going to. She said, That’s where you need to go to.”

Unique, Nonsurgical Device

The practice Alexandra was referred to is Active Health Center, which has its offices in North Palm Beach. The special neck machine she was told about is called the MCU™, which stands for Multi-Cervical Unit.

The MCU is a unique, nonsurgical device that isolates and strengthens the muscles around the neck and provides a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s physical progress while the patient receives the therapy.

A tool in what doctors refer to as evidence-based medicine, the MCU records 16 different ranges of muscle movement for strength to determine the specific areas of the neck where there are weaknesses, imbalances or a loss in range of motion.

Once that data is revealed, a customized treatment program is designed that allows the MCU to correct those problems. Considered the most complete and efficient system for assessment and rehabilitation of the neck, the MCU has also proven to be highly effective.

According to Active Health Center, studies show that after receiving MCU therapy, patient pain levels decreased by 66 percent while strength levels increased by more than 70 percent, with more than 90 percent of patients making a full recovery.

Encouraged by her friend’s results, Alexandra visited Active Health Center, where she was placed under the care of Colin O. Behrue, DC. Dr. Behrue gave Alexandra a thorough examination that included a series of tests to determine her candidacy for MCU therapy.

He then ordered an MRI that revealed she was suffering from herniated discs, bulging discs, arthritis and muscle weakness in multiple areas of her neck and back. The MRI results further indicated Alexandra had been receiving the wrong therapy.

Alexandra Urena finally found relief for her neck, back and shoulder pain through MCU therapy.

After years of misery, Alexandra is living and working pain free.

“She wasn’t properly diagnosed at first, and that can result in a patient doing therapies that are not specific to their needs,” Dr. Behrue explains. “For example, if someone has lower back pain, flexing forward may be worse than going backward because it will only aggravate the problem. That’s what had been happening with Alexandra.

“Clinically, she was not on the right path. She wasn’t doing physical therapy that was right for her condition, which can create muscle memory in the wrong alignments, overwork the already overworked muscles and lead to bad posture and range of motion.”

I’m a Believer

Based on her experience with the previous treatments, Alexandra was hesitant to commit to another form of therapy, but eventually agreed to begin work on the MCU machine, where sessions last about 30 minutes.

Patients typically go through three sessions a week for only nine weeks. During those nine weeks, patients are re-tested at least three times to determine the effectiveness of the treatments and to compare their results with those obtained during the initial examination.

“That shows us how well the patient is progressing, and based on the findings, we make clinical changes,” Dr. Behrue informs. “The change could be different exercises, different angles or different weights that help the patient continue to improve and build strength.”

After nine weeks of therapy, patients are given a maintenance program that includes exercises they do at home to maintain their strength.

“Dr. Behrue kept telling me that I was making progress and doing better, but for about six weeks, I really didn’t feel it,” Alexandra says. “Then one day, I suddenly started feeling different – a lot better, especially in my neck.

“I went ahead and finished out the program, just as they told me to, and by the time I was done, it was like a miracle had happened. I had no more pain in my neck or back or shoulders, and I was so excited.

“I am so grateful for everything they did for me at Active Health Center. And I am so glad I stuck with the therapy and didn’t give up when I wasn’t sure if it was helping me because I have no pain now, and I can work and sleep, and I feel so much better.

“Just like my friend did with me, I highly recommend Active Health Center to anyone who is having neck, back or shoulder pain. Dr. Behrue is a fantastic doctor, and thanks to him, I feel amazing now. He’s made me a believer in this kind of medicine.”

Full of Life

Activities director keeps residents engaged.

For the nearly five years that Ana D’Amore has been coordinating daily activities for the residents of the Savannah Court of Orange City assisted living community, mornings have included a few moments of peaceful meditation.

Ana D’Amore is a valuable member of the Savannah Court of Orange City staff.

Ana is in her fifth year as the community’s activities director.

“The meditation period comes at the end of our morning exercise routine, which starts about ten o’clock,” Ana explains. “It starts with me asking them to put their hands on their chest and to feel the warm energy of their hands.

“I then ask them to imagine that warm energy is a bright light filled with peace and love and that it’s going through their hearts and lungs and making them feel good while filling them with peace, love and joy.”

Ana, a native of Brazil who earned a degree in psychology, spreads peace, love and joy all throughout Savannah Court, where her duties stretch far beyond the morning exercise routine she conducts five days a week.

One of the assisted living community’s most dedicated and versatile staff members, Ana also drives residents to their doctor’s appointments whenever necessary, organizes a weekly luncheon outing on Thursdays and generally pitches in and helps whenever help is needed.

“She’s very committed to the well-being of our residents, especially their emotional well-being,” states Judith Robinson, executive director of Savannah Court of Orange City, which offers assisted living, senior day care, and respite care services.

“She is an extremely valuable and cherished member of our community, which I believe is just right in terms of its size. We’re not too big, and we’re not too small. And in a community like this, someone like Ana really stands out.”

Nestled just 20 minutes between Metro Orlando and Daytona Beach, Savannah Court of Orange City provides residents with a cozy, small-town ambiance while also offering all the amenities necessary to maintain an active lifestyle.

Rewarding Work

That lifestyle is greatly enhanced by Ana’s vast array of activities. Depending on the hour of the day, she might be orchestrating a group sing-along of familiar classics, teaching a class on arts and crafts or testing residents’ knowledge of trivial history.

“One of the games we play is called You Be the Judge,” Ana relates. “We’ll tell them the story of a real-life trial from the past and what the verdict was, and the residents are asked to express their opinions on the outcome.

“Some agree, of course, and some disagree, but it gets everyone involved, and it gives them a chance to interact with each other. Activities like that are very important because it keeps everyone active and thinking.”

Ana has even gone so far as to have residents write poetry to express their feelings, and of course, she always makes time for fun and more typical games such as poker or checkers and themed nights in the Savannah Court cafeteria.

“A lot of what I do is designed to help the residents feel more connected, because we’re like a big family here,” Ana says. “That feeling of connection is important for everyone, and so we do a lot of things that get everyone involved.

“The other thing we want them to do is to be active. That’s why we have the morning exercise routine, where we always start off with a bit of stretching and then go through a few things that are not too strenuous but get their bodies moving.

“That’s another thing that is very important for our residents. It is best for residents to be as active as possible and especially with others in the community. It’s my job to help them to do that, and I love it. It’s very rewarding work.”

A Winning Team

This staff can tackle any dental care issue.

When board-certified implantologist Rajiv Patel, BDS, first began practicing dentistry more than three decades ago, he made a vow to deliver advanced, personalized and comprehensive care to his patients in a comfortable, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Dr. Patel’s staff may be small, but it’s dedicated and skilled, and it can tackle any dental care issue.

With the late Dr. Darshan Patel watching over them (in wall photo), the staff of DeLand Implant Dentistry from left to right: Laura Fernandez, Cathy Johnson, Dr. Rajiv Patel, Rita Patel and Amanda Kiser

He achieves that objective daily at DeLand Implant Dentistry, where Dr. Patel and his highly trained staff of dedicated professionals perform all aspects of dentistry in one place with the aid of the most advanced diagnostic and treatment equipment available.

“Our belief is that a beautiful smile set off by healthy teeth and gums is a great asset that can make a positive difference in the confidence and self-esteem of any person,” Dr. Patel reveals. “That is what we strive to deliver here.”

Dr. Patel’s objective is a big one, yet he achieves it consistently, thanks to a team approach that has helped forge a family atmosphere where new and established patients alike are made to feel comfortable and cared for.

“We want our patients to feel like they’re part of our family because we don’t expect to see them just once,” says scheduling coordinator Cathy Johnson. “We intend to make a lifetime commitment to them, and we hope they’ll make a lifetime commitment to us.

“That’s why getting to know the patients and making them feel comfortable is one of the things we really pride ourselves on, and that begins with me. I’m usually the first person a patient sees or talks with. The first impression we make on them is important.

“That’s why our waiting room is always so neat and picked up. It’s spotless, and we get a lot of compliments on that. We also get a lot of compliments on how welcoming and friendly we are, but that’s how we are as a staff.

“Everyone gets along extremely well, and that’s because we’re all working toward the same goal. Our job is to help our patients, and we all work together to make that happen, whether it’s a patient we see regularly, a new patient or someone with an emergency.”

Best Comprehensive Care

Patients with emergencies are taken in immediately whenever possible at DeLand Implant Dentistry, Cathy says. Those who cannot be accepted immediately are given temporary care instructions to help them feel more comfortable until they can see the dentist.

Once a patient does see Dr. Patel, they receive the best and most comprehensive care possible, thanks in part to the vast array of state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment equipment that DeLand Implant Dentistry has at its disposal.

Those tools include digital x-rays, cone beam CT scanner, simplant software for implant planning, a 3-D scanner that creates digital impressions of a patient’s mouth rather than using plaster impressions, a computer-aided-design machine that creates crowns on the spot and a CO2 laser that allows for cleaner, more precise cuts during oral surgeries.

These tools and the others available to Dr. Patel allow for fewer and much shorter dental appointments and give Dr. Patel and his staff the ability to perform virtually any dental treatment a patient might need.

“We can perform everything from basic diagnostic procedures and routine prophylactic cleanings to minor restorative procedures such as fillings and major restorative procedures such as crowns and bridges,” Dr. Patel reports.

“We also provide prosthetic services, including partial dentures and complete dentures, and all endodontic services, including root canals, oral surgeries and all kinds of extractions, including wisdom tooth extractions.

“We perform major bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgeries, including implant placement surgeries and final prosthetic work for implants, whether it’s a crown, a bridge or an implant-retained or implant-supported denture.

“We even have the equipment necessary to diagnose temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ condition, if a patient has one and the ability to provide basic conservative treatments for that. There is virtually nothing we can’t do.

Promoting Prevention

A big part of any dental practice’s objective, of course, is to help patients prevent the development of dental issues. At DeLand Implant Dentistry, that is the primary job of dental hygienist Amanda Kiser.

“I am on the prevention end of the operation,” Amanda confirms. “I typically see patients every three to six months and look for gum disease and any indications of early cavities, fractures, oral cancers or tooth loss.

“It’s also my job to help patients find the appropriate tools to achieve and sustain optimal oral health. And we do that on a patient-to-patient basis, which means every appointment will be a little different based on the patient’s needs.”

One thing that remains universal, Amanda says, is the basic approach people can take daily toward maintaining or eventually achieving good oral health.

“Obviously, you want to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, and the best time to floss is before bedtime,” Amanda educates. “What can be different are the tools that each patient uses to accomplish those tasks.

“Every patient has a preference on toothbrush, floss and mouth rinse, and it’s important to figure out what works for each patient so they can maintain the best oral care possible. There is no one size fits all – not with the appointment, not with the tools we recommend.

“It’s all very personalized, and I think that’s an area where we excel because we are given the time to figure out what patients are doing at home and go over their brushing and flossing habits and look at ways we can tweak them to make them better.

“I believe that when you do that, you gain the patient’s trust, and that’s when you get compliance with your patients. And when you get compliance, that’s when the patients get results, and it eventually comes full circle and makes the practice better.”

Amanda says another one of the things that makes DeLand Implant Dentistry better than most practices is the camaraderie among the staff members. She says that stems from the way Dr. Patel treats his staff members as equals.

“We all work wonderfully together, and I can speak for myself as well as everybody else in saying that part of the reason for that is that Dr. Patel values us,” she says. “When you’re valued as an employee, you’re more motivated to work harder every day for each patient. That’s exactly what we do here.

Speak Out

Speech therapy program strengthens voices in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Pike County, Pennsylvania native Joanne Muir was four years into retirement from her job as a bookkeeper for her husband’s water treatment company when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. By the time Joanne and her husband moved to Florida five years later, the disease had begun to manifest itself in a way Joanne didn’t expect.

Parkinson’s sufferer Joanne Muir regained the ability to speak normally through a 12-session speech therapy program offered through Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat.

Joanne Muir

“My voice began to get very soft and weak,” Joanne reveals. “I couldn’t speak with any force or in a normal volume. It quickly became a problem for us because my husband is hard of hearing. I was always having to repeat myself several times to be heard and understood. It was very exhausting and frustrating.”

Joanne’s frustration is not unusual. According to the Parkinson Voice Project®, a nonprofit organization created to aid sufferers of this specific motor symptom, 90 percent of all Parkinson’s patients are at risk for developing a weakened voice, slurred or indistinct speech and maybe even swallowing difficulties.

To correct the problem, the Parkinson Voice Project has developed a 12-session voice therapy program called SPEAK OUT!  that is designed to help participants strengthen the muscles they use to speak and swallow. During each 45-minute session, participants work with a speech-language pathologist while performing a series of speech, voice and cognitive exercises.

Friendly Advice

Joanne learned of the program from a friend, and through her doctor, she was advised to visit Devang Shah, MD, at Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat.
Dr. Shah specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of voice and swallowing conditions and upon first meeting Joanne he performed a videostroboscopy to view her larynx (voice box).

The videostroboscopy uses a strobe light and a high level of magnification to see the motion of the vocal folds and diagnose any growths affecting the way the vocal folds move together to make sound. Once medical clearance was obtained, she could start the
SPEAK OUT! program.

“It’s a pretty aggressive treatment plan,” Dr. Shah reveals. “The patient and speech pathologist meet at least a couple of times a week for several weeks, and there are some very important homework assignments that are involved in the program as well.”

Typical of most of the Parkinson’s patients they see, Joanne also arrived at Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat last August with a slight tremor in her weakened voice. Aided by the homework she did, Joanne’s 12 sessions with the speech pathologist changed all that.

“My voice is much stronger now, and my husband hears me a lot better,” Joanne reports. “We don’t have the communication problems we were having before, because I sound almost the way I did before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“I recommend the SPEAK OUT! program to anyone who has Parkinson’s disease, and I definitely recommend doing the therapy at Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat. They’re all very lovely people and so helpful. They’re really great.”

Do you hear what I hear?

Reaping the benefits of new-age technology.

If you or anyone you know needed some form of financial aid to help pay for college, you probably owe Diane Voigt a debt of gratitude. During her working years, Diane was tasked with getting several federal student loan programs up and running.

Diane Voigt is reaping the benefits of the advancements in technology available in Miracle-Ear®’s latest line of hearing aids.

Diane enjoys the wonders of modern hearing aid technology

“I worked in Washington, DC at the Department of Education, and was initially among those responsible for getting what’s now known as the Pell Grant going,” Diane reveals. “Later, I was the chair of the Federal Direct Loan Task Force.

“It’s not very often that you get a chance to do something important like that, and I was fortunate to have been given a second opportunity to be involved in that kind work. It’s something I’m very proud of.”

One thing Diane, 74, is not proud of is how for years following her retirement and the subsequent move she and her husband made to Florida in 1997, she was too proud to admit to anyone she was slowly losing her hearing.

“It was obvious to me that I had a rather substantial hearing loss, but for years, I pretty much ignored it,” Diane says. “For example, I went for years watching TV at a loud volume but with the captions on because I could not distinguish what anyone was saying.

“There was also a time when I was accusing my grandchildren of mumbling when we spoke on the phone. They weren’t mumbling. I just couldn’t hear them clearly. I couldn’t even hear my phone ring sometimes.

“It was a real problem that I knew was only going to get worse. Finally, after my husband could see that my family and friends were getting tired of me saying, I’m sorry, would you repeat that?, he kindly suggested I get my hearing checked.”

Diane’s husband’s suggestion resulted in a visit to Miracle-Ear, where Diane met Melanee Bryans, LHAS. Melanee’s initial examination of Diane confirmed Diane’s suspicions about her hearing and sparked a relationship that has been immensely beneficial for Diane.

“I go to see Melanee every three months or so just to make sure everything is okay, and the last time I went back, my hearing had deteriorated even more,” Diane says. “I needed new hearing aids, and Melanee recommended a new product that she was very excited about.”

The Latest Thing

The new product Melanee recommended for Diane is one of a series of hearing instruments featuring advances in modern technology that greatly enhance the wearer’s listening experience and ability to hear clearly in all types of environments,

“Just as it is with most everything else in our world, the technology now available in hearing aids has improved markedly in the last several years,” Melanee explains. “In fact, the changes that have been made are literally like night and day.

“I knew those changes were going to benefit Diane, because she’s a very active person who was in some older technology. We fit her with a pair of ME-1 5500 series instruments that are small enough to be worn discretely behind the ear.”

In addition to being discreet, the ME-1 5500 hearing aids also include a direct streaming feature that allows sounds generated by external electronic sources such as a TV set or smart telephone to be heard directly through the hearing device, which makes for a clearer, cleaner sound.

Diane Voigt is reaping the benefits of the advancements in technology available in Miracle-Ear®’s latest line of hearing aids.

ME-I 5500

“With the direct streaming feature, you’re not losing any of the sounds you’re focused on because of all the ambient noise around you,” Melanee explains. “That’s a feature that is proving to be very popular, especially with people who watch a lot of TV.

“If you’re sitting at home watching television with your spouse, you can stream the TV directly into the hearing aid. That allows you to hear the TV clearly while your spouse can enjoy it as well but at a level that is comfortable for them.”

Diane says she is constantly amazed by the features offered through the improved technology available in her new hearing aids. One of those features came in especially handy during a recent outing with some friends, she says.

“We were at a restaurant on the beach one Saturday for breakfast, and it just happened to be Bike Week,” Diane explains. “The place was packed with motorcycles, and they were all making so much noise that I couldn’t carry on a conversation.

“But these hearing aids have a control on my phone that allows me to change the program from universal, which is sort of like everyday stuff, to noisy environment. So I did that, and all of a sudden, all those motorcycles just faded into the background.”

Amazing Improvements

In addition to hearing better in noisy environments, Diane says she can also hear better at home, where she no longer has to watch TV with the captions on and can hear her cell phone ring, no matter where it is.

Diane Voigt is reaping the benefits of the advancements in technology available in Miracle-Ear®’s latest line of hearing aids.

Diane chose this rechargeable option

“When the phone rings, I can hear the ring in my ear,” she says. “Sometimes, I don’t even know where the phone is, but I know that I have a call, which is great. I’m just amazed at the technology available in these new hearing aids. I’m experimenting with it all the time.”

Diane is so impressed with the improved comfort and hearing experience she’s getting from her new hearing aids that she recommends them to anyone who needs an upgrade. And she whole-heartedly recommends Miracle-Ear and Melanee.

“These hearing aids have made a huge difference in my life,” she exudes. “They fit and feel better, and I’m hearing better than ever. And as for Melanee, she’s such a sweetheart and so professional, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

“It’s very important to go to someone you trust, because I have friends who need hearing aids who won’t go get them because they’re afraid the tester will just try to sell them something.

“I’ve never had that feeling with Melanee, so I’ve told all my friends, Go to see her, because she’s great.

The Way We Were

Stem cell therapy eliminates debilitating knee pain.

Before it becomes the gas that fuels your car, crude oil is first excavated from the ground and then transported to a refinery either through pipelines or by a train or a river barge the likes of which Michael Thompson pushes for a living.

Michael Thompson and Chuck Farrell both received stem cell treatments and both are walking like they used to.

Michael Thompson

“I captain a towboat that pushes barges that are a thousand feet long,” says Michael, who has been on the water since he earned his Master of Boating Vessels license in 1992. “We push other stuff, too, but it’s mostly oil that’s on those barges now.

“I currently go from St. Paul, Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico and from Corpus Christi, Texas all the way to Pensacola. I drive those towboats down the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Illinois Rivers and across the Intracoastal Canal.”

Prior to beginning his career as a boat captain, Michael, 65, served as a policeman in his home of New Smyrna Beach and later worked with an emergency services unit at Cape Canaveral, where training was a grueling daily exercise.

“We did a lot of running and ran across a lot of obstacle courses during our training for that job, and I have beaten my body up pretty badly over the years, because I developed some serious knee issues,” Michael relates.

Those knee issues became acute a few years ago after Michael spent a long weekend visiting his family in Marietta, Ohio, where he spent an evening taking in a fireworks show during the area’s annual Sternwheel Festival.

“I spent most of that night carrying my sister’s granddaughter on my shoulders so that she wouldn’t have to fight the crowd to see the fireworks,” Michael remembers. “The next day, my knees hurt so bad, I could barely walk.”

Michael had fought through his moderate knee pain for years at that point, but it was so intense following his trip to the festival that he sought advice from his primary care physician, who immediately sent him to a bone doctor.

The bone doctor sent Michael to a knee specialist who gave Michael an injection of cortisone, a hormone that is often effective in reducing inflammation and pain in joints and tendons. It wasn’t effective in reducing Michael’s pain.

“It helped very little,” Michael says of the cortisone shot. “That doctor got me approved for another type of shot, but I can’t even tell you what it was. It was a lubricant of some kind, but that didn’t help either.”

The Last Straw

Michael spent more than a year waiting for first the cortisone shot and later for the lubricant to take effect. It was a miserably long wait that was made worse by the fact that the pain prohibited him from exercising in any way.

“I was hurting so bad, I couldn’t even walk, and I used to walk every day for exercise,” Michael says. “Throw in the fact that I sit for twelve hours a day driving the boat and before long, I started putting on weight. Lots of weight.

“I eventually got up to three hundred and fifty-six pounds. Then, last summer, I brought my twin sons down here from Ohio for a vacation. Well, the first thing they wanted to do when they got here was take a walk on the beach.

“I couldn’t go with them because I couldn’t walk. It was just too painful, especially on the beach like that. That was the last straw for me. That’s when I said, Enough and decided I had to get something done about this once and for all.”

Michael’s decision sparked a conversation with his family members over what route to follow next. It was during that conversation that his cousin’s daughter suggested he visit Coastal Integrative Healthcare, where she had worked as a massage therapist.

Michael acted immediately on the recommendation. During his first visit, he was given a thorough examination that included x-rays and was advised by one of the treating physicians to start taking magnesium for his pain.

“She said the magnesium would help because she suspected that the pain and extra weight I’d put on was making me walk differently than usual, and that was likely causing the muscles to fight each other and cramp,” Michael says.

“She also made an appointment for me to come back and get a chiropractic adjustment. When I went back for that, they showed me the x-rays and explained that the reason I was in so much pain was because there was almost no cartilage left in my knees.

“They also told me they could fix that with stem cell therapy. At that point, I was willing to do anything to alleviate the pain because I knew my quality of life was only going to get worse if I didn’t do something.”

Our Body’s Building Blocks

Stem cells are the basic foundation cells that grow all of the tissue and organs in our body. When injected into a damaged organ or tissue, such as the cartilage in Michael’s knees, they support the natural healing process by regenerating that tissue.

Also known as regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy uses stem cells to stimulate the body’s natural repair mechanisms. Many in the medical community, including those at the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, consider it the future of medicine.

“It’s definitely on the leading edge of medical technology,” states Timothy Steflik, DC, of Coastal Integrative Healthcare. “It’s a great alternative to surgery. It regenerates the body instead of trying to fix it or cover up a problem with surgery.

“The real beauty of it is that it is a one-and-done, in-office procedure that takes about fifteen minutes and needs no anesthesia. It’s a simple injection of the cells that are cryo-preserved right in our office.

“For some patients, we do a color ultrasound to guide the injection because we need to be very specific where the cells are placed. Once the cells are injected, the patient just needs time to heal. They can return to normal activities right away.”

Stem cell therapy can be used anywhere in the body where there is arthritis, or a muscle or tendon tear, Dr. Steflik educates. In addition to knees and shoulders, medical providers at Coastal Integrative Healthcare have performed the procedure on hamstrings, ankles and wrists.

Not all patients are good candidates for the procedure. Patients who have suffered a tear of more than 50 percent of the rotator cuff in their shoulder, for example, or have absolutely no cartilage left in their knee would be encouraged to try other options first.

Back to the Beach

Chuck Farrell knows one of those other options all too well. He has a couple of friends whose ceaseless knee pain resulted in them opting for replacement surgery. One of those friends, he says, had a good experience. The other, not so good.

Convinced that the odds were stacked against him, Chuck, 78, had long been reluctant to have the surgery that more than one doctor told him he needed to rid him of the right knee pain that had all but disabled him.

“I’m seventy-eight years old, a retired REALTOR®, but I like to stay active,” Chuck explains. “I especially like walking on the beach. That’s why my wife and I bought a house here in New Smyrna Beach, because we like the beach.

“Well, about fifteen years ago, I started having knee problems – a lot of pain – and I was told on more than one occasion that it was pretty much bone on bone in my right knee and that my only choice was to have surgery.

“I always thought I was too young to have replacement surgery, and really, I didn’t want it anyway, so I put it off. When the pain got real bad, I’d just take Aleve® or something like that. After I retired, though, the pain started to get a lot worse.

“There was a point where it was so bad, I couldn’t even mow the lawn. I had to buy a riding mower because it hurt too much to walk behind a push mower. And as for those walks on the beach, well, I went for years without being able to take one of those.”

Despite the impact it was having on his lifestyle, Chuck refused to seriously consider knee replacement surgery, which another doctor recommended just last year. Then came a day a few months ago when he discovered an alternative while reading a local newspaper.

“I attended a seminar about stem cell therapy at the public library here in New Smyrna Beach to see what it was all about,” Chuck reports.

The seminar Chuck attended was facilitated by Coastal Integrative Healthcare. The featured speaker was Dr. Steflik, who impressed Chuck so much that he immediately made an appointment with the doctor to see if he was a candidate for the treatment.

During that appointment, which took place in January, an x-ray of Chuck’s right knee was taken that revealed he still had some cartilage left, enough to make him a candidate for stem cell therapy. Chuck agreed then and there to give the treatment a try.

Michael Thompson and Chuck Farrell both received stem cell treatments and both are walking like they used to.

Chuck Farrell

“I figured, What do I have to lose?” Chuck reveals. “I thought, If it doesn’t work, I can always go back and have the surgery. And for the first twenty-eight days or so after I received the injection, I was thinking I might have to do that.

“I wasn’t really noticing any improvement. But then, after I started to do some physical therapy and some exercises to help build up my leg muscles, I started to notice a real difference, and my knee started to feel a lot better.”

Chuck has continued to experience improvement ever since, to the point where he is once again taking his walks along the beach. He’s still not walking the distances he once was, but he’s confident he’ll be walking those distances again soon.

“The pain is gone, and I even cut the grass here a while back,” Chuck reports. “I wore a brace to do that, but I’m able to push the mower again without the pain. I can’t tell you how great a feeling it is to be able to do that and walk the beach again.”

Pain Free Again

Michael knows the feeling. He received his stem cell injections last September during one of the breaks in his work schedule, which calls for him to work 28 straight days, with a two-week break in between work periods.

He also started doing physical therapy at that time and wearing knee braces for support. When he returned to Coastal Integrative Healthcare a little more than a month after receiving his injections, the staff was amazed at his improvement.

“I was already walking much better and was in a lot less pain,” Michael says. “I was told I could stop wearing the knee braces at that time, but one of the nurses there, Greg Salter, saw I had some bone spurs.

“He said the bone spurs are the body’s way of forming a cast to keep any more damage from happening, and he recommended I use a rolling pin of all things to get them out. So, I got a rolling pin and rolled that across my knees a couple times a day.”

The rolling pin treatment was a bit painful at first, but Michael stuck with it in part because Greg told him it would not only break down the bone spurs but generate blood flow, which would further promote healing and new growth.

That’s exactly what it has done. When Michael returned to Coastal Integrative Healthcare again a couple of months ago for another check-up, he reported that his knee pain was virtually nonexistent and that he was resuming normal activities.

“The pain in my right knee is completely gone,” Michael confirms. “I still had some pain in my left knee then, but that’s because x-rays showed I was nearly bone on bone in that knee, so I got a booster shot to help that. Now, my flexibility is almost back to normal.

“I work with another captain who told me recently that when I first came on this boat, he didn’t know how much longer I was going to be able to do this. But now, he sees me getting on the boat, and he says I’m almost nimble.”

Michael chose to have the stem cell therapy in part because he knows two people who have undergone knee surgery, and both had bad experiences with it. He says the therapy worked for him and is glad he went to Coastal Integrative Healthcare to get it.

“They’re all great people, unlike a lot of doctors, who forget about you once you’re out the door,” Michael says. “Dr. Steflik has called me several times to check up on how I’m doing, and I really appreciate that. It shows how much he cares.”

Chuck agrees. He says he could tell just how much Dr. Steflik cares about his patients when he spoke during the seminar. He adds that he was not disappointed in any way when he actually became a patient of Dr. Steflik’s himself.

“Everyone there is very professional, but what really stuck with me is how friendly everybody is,” he says. “You go in for a treatment or for physical therapy and everyone greets you with a Hello and a How are you doing?

“It’s a great place, and you can take it from me, they do great work.”

New Age Dentistry

Technological advances make implants best choice for broken or missing teeth.

For nearly 30 years, Tom Miller was in charge of counting every nickel, dime and quarter that travelers tossed into the baskets at the toll booths along the Indiana Toll Road that runs between Chicago, Illinois and the Ohio Turnpike.

Tom learned how easy and painless the dental implant process is

“If you’re like me and they have to ruin two teeth on either side of the one you lost to do a bridge, why not get the implant? The process is very easy, and you wind up with something that looks and feels like a real tooth. It feels natural, it really does.” -Tom

“I was the controller and administrative services manager for the Indiana Toll Road for twenty-eight and a half years, until I retired in 1995,’’ Tom, 82, confirms. “After retirement, my wife and I moved to Florida. We wanted to get out of all that snow.”

Tom now spends most of his time reading (he especially likes John Grisham novels), doing odd jobs around the house and arranging teaching jobs for his wife, who continues to work part-time as a substitute teacher.

About a year ago, Tom’s retirement routine was interrupted when a tooth suddenly broke off one afternoon after he’d eaten some nuts. At first, Tom thought he had simply lost the crown on that tooth. He soon learned he’d lost much more than that.

“It was really strange because it was hours after I’d eaten the nuts, and all I did was brush my tongue against that tooth, and it broke off,’’ Tom recalls. “The first thing I did was call my dentist, who told me to come in right away.”

Tom’s dentist is Joseph H. Farag, DMD, of Port Charlotte Dental Care. Upon examining Tom, Dr. Farag determined that time had simply caught up with his patient and a tooth that been restored at least once before had simply failed.

“It was his upper left bicuspid, or premolar, and it had broken off right at the gumline,’’ Dr. Farag reports. “As it was, there wasn’t enough tooth left to build on, so it was a hopeless case, and we wound up having to extract the tooth.”

The extraction left Tom with two choices for a replacement. One was a bridge that would be supported by the two teeth immediately surrounding the now missing tooth. The other was to fill the void with a new tooth using a dental implant.

Titanium Strength

Tom wasn’t too keen on getting a bridge largely because his wife has had two bridges for years and is constantly forced to clean beneath them following meals because food gets caught between the bridge and the gums.

Not only that, but going with the bridge would have required Dr. Farag to cut down the two teeth that would have supported the bridge. Because those teeth were both deemed to be in good shape, Dr. Farag recommended the implant option and Tom agreed.

Dental implants are screw-like posts that are made of a titanium alloy that are surgically implanted within the bone of the patient’s jaw. Once the implants are in the jaw, they fuse over time with the bone and become a solid unit.

It typically takes three to six months to complete the fusion process, but once that solid unit is formed, it provides stability for an abutment, which is then capped off with a crown for a single tooth or a partial or full denture for patients replacing multiple teeth.

During the planning stage of the dental implant process, Dr. Farag uses computers to produce three-dimensional models of the patient’s jaw and virtual teeth that the computer fits into the gaps on the model where teeth are missing.

The computer allows for the perfect placement of not just the tooth itself, but the implant, which needs to be placed at a very precise angle to ensure the new tooth aligns with all the remaining teeth and functions properly alongside those teeth.

“When an implant is placed, especially in a tight space as we did with Tom, you have to get parallelism,’’ Dr. Farag informs. “That means the implant has to be in a parallel line to the adjacent teeth so that when you put the crown on, everything looks, fits and feels natural.”

Once the planning phase is completed, Dr. Farag begins the physical implant process. In Tom’s case, that process began with Dr. Farag performing a bone graft procedure in which a bone particulate was injected into the empty socket to ensure Tom’s jawbone would support the implant.

“The bone graft does a number of things,’’ Dr. Farag explains. “One of those things is, it helps to maintain the volume of bone that is already present in the jaw so that we don’t have any atrophy in the height, width and depth of the bone.

“We do a preplanned scan for that, too, so we know whether we can actually fit an implant and what the strength of the bone around the implant is. To place the implant properly, it’s critical to have that pre-knowledge of what you need before you start.”

Bone grafts are not always necessary. When they are, it takes about three months for the bone to heal to a point where it can receive and support an implant, which is put in place with the aid of a computer-assisted, 3-D guidance system.

Once it has been seated, the implant needs about three months to fuse with the bone. To ensure the implant is not disturbed during that time, it is protected by a titanium healing cover that is removed when the abutment and crown are placed.

The crown itself looks like a real tooth and is fashioned out of ceramic using a machine that allows the dentist to make it on the spot on the day it is screwed onto the implant. The total time the patient is in the chair for that appointment is about an hour.

“The longest step in this whole process is the extraction and graft,’’ Dr. Farag says. “That takes about forty minutes. Placing the implant takes about ten minutes for a single tooth, such as the one we did with Tom, and I might add that by using the guidance system, there are no sutures to worry about because there’s no scalpel incision as the implant is placed through a tiny tissue punch.

“Finally, on the day the patient gets the actual tooth, we’re only in their mouth for about four or five minutes. The patient doesn’t even have to be numbed up for that visit because we’re just taking the healing cover off the implant and putting the tooth in place.”

Easy and Painless

Dr. Farag says that in terms of the patient’s experience, the implant procedure is truly the easiest and most functionally efficient way of replacing either a single broken or diseased tooth, the way he did with Tom, or a series of teeth.

Tom learned how easy and painless the dental implant process is

Tom learned how easy and painless the dental implant process is

“If you have a broken tooth or a tooth that is a hopeless case, you will need to go through the removal of the tooth regardless, and that really is the longest part of the process,’’ he says. “So, if you’re going to have to do that anyway, why not get the implant?

“It really is one of the easiest options for a replacement, but a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of it because they don’t know how easy it really is for them or how much more function they’ll get from it in the end.”

Tom confirms that the implant process is indeed easy and provides great function. He adds that it is also a painless process. The only discomfort he experienced came when he broke the tooth. Everything else was a breeze.

“There was no pain associated with this process at all for me,’’ Tom marvels. “I definitely recommend this option to people, whether they’ve got one tooth that needs to be replaced or they need an entire denture of teeth.

“If you’re like me and they have to ruin two teeth on either side of the one you lost to do a bridge, why not get the implant? The process is very easy, and you wind up with something that looks and feels like a real tooth. It feels natural, it really does.

“I highly recommend Dr. Farag as well. He’s been my dentist now for a long time – my wife’s, too. And that’s because he and his staff are so good at what they do and so concerned about their patients. They’re the best.”

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