Author Archive

Dental Double Play

Specialized grafting procedures critical to challenging restoration.

Doris gives the staff at DeLand Implant Dentistry a “topnotch” rating.

Tired of being left alone at home for three or four days a week, Doris Ford took up golf some 15 years ago mostly in an effort to spend more time with her husband and the many friends who would steal him away for a relaxing day on the links.

“It seemed like everybody who came to visit us played golf, and I used to just meet them all for lunch,” Doris remembers. “Then one day, I finally said, Enough. I’m going to learn to play golf, too. It was a struggle at first, but I learned, and I couldn’t be happier.

“The thing I love the most about golf is the people you meet and play with. I’m lucky that I play two or three times a week with some of the most fabulous gals. They’re all so wonderful and nice. I’m very grateful for that.”

A former medical technologist, Doris, 70, is also grateful that she and her husband moved to Florida some 20 years ago. It was here in Florida, after all, that she was able to resolve her concerns about a longstanding dental issue.

“My teeth were always very soft, and they’d crumble, so I had no choice but to get false teeth much earlier than most people do,” she says. “And don’t get me wrong – my dentures looked great. But they weren’t my own teeth, and that always bothered me.

“Another thing that bothered me about them was that I was afraid that if I ever wound up in a nursing home or something like that, someone might lose them. I guess I’m too vain, but I would be mortified if something like that ever happened.”

Doris’ fears prompted an investigation into possible alternatives. The one that intrigued her the most was a fixed denture supported by dental implants, which are screw-like posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone.

After an implant is seated in the jaw, bone naturally grows around it to create a solid foundation for replacement teeth. A single implant supports an abutment and crown for a single tooth, while two or more implants can support a fixed bridge or a full denture.

Once she decided that implant-supported dentures would best replace her traditional dentures, Doris visited several dentists before choosing her husband’s dentist, Rajiv Patel, BDS, MDS, of DeLand Implant Dentistry, to perform the restoration.

Spectacular Solutions

During her initial consultation with Dr. Patel, Doris learned from a CT scan that she lacked the amount of bone necessary to support implants, particularly in her upper arch. She was pleased to learn, though, that Dr. Patel has a solution for that problem.

“When a person has been without teeth for a long period of time, as Doris was, the bone in the jaw deteriorates from lack of function,” Dr. Patel educates. “The good news is, we can correct those deficiencies by doing a bone graft.

“With Doris, though, a simple bone graft would not do. Because her teeth had been missing for so long, she had suffered a pneumatization of the sinuses, where a hollow area develops in the sinus floor.

“To correct that problem, we had to perform a special procedure that we call a bilateral sinus graft to reclaim the sinus floor before fitting any implants.”

The procedure for reclaiming the sinus floor is an intricate one that starts with the creation of a small window in the upper arch. During that process, the residual bone from the upper arch is collected and briefly stored.

“I could not be happier with the results. It’s like I have real teeth again, and that is wonderful, absolutely wonderful.” – Doris

The residual bone is then mixed with a bone substitute material that is placed into the sinus through the window created in the upper arch. The mixture of residual bone and bone substitute material sparks the growth of new bone in the sinus.

“It is a very delicate surgery,” Dr. Patel informs, “but when performed by an experienced hand, it is a very successful surgery. We have a one hundred percent success rate with that surgery in terms of creating the bone necessary to place implants.”

Dr. Patel maintained that high success rate with Doris, who agreed to the surgery and had the bilateral sinus graft done in January 2018. Meanwhile, fitting Doris with implants for her lower arch presented a completely different challenge for Dr. Patel.

When Doris came to me, she was wearing lower partial dentures on both sides, but there was some bone deficiency there as well,” he says. “To correct that, we did what we call a vascularized ridge-split procedure to widen the bone so we could seat the implants.”

Doris was missing the molars and bicuspids on each side of her lower arch, so Dr. Patel had to perform the three-stage vascularized ridge-split procedure twice to create the environment where she had the bone necessary to secure implants.

During the first step in that process, the soft tissue is enhanced through a grafting procedure. Then, the area where the split will eventually be made is designated. Finally, the split itself is made where the bone will be widened to allow for placement of the implants.

The healing period for this remarkably pain-free procedure is about six weeks, according to Dr. Patel. During those six weeks, the vascularity of the bone is reestablished, which allows for greater security of the implant and the crown, bridge or denture it supports.

The final stage of the implant process is the placement of the abutment and crown. Some dentists require patients to visit specialists for all or parts of the implant process, but Dr. Patel performs all phases of that process in one office.

“A Cut Above the Rest”

“He does it all and has all of this state-of-the-art equipment to do it, which is one of the reasons why I chose him,” Doris says of Dr. Patel. “When I looked at all the dentists, he just seemed a cut above the rest because he was so explicit in his explanation of everything.

“During our consultation, he told me everything he was going to need to do in great detail. He even wrote it all out for me and told me where the cadaver bone was coming from for the bone grafts. I was really impressed with his attention to detail.

“I could not be happier with the results. It’s like I have real teeth again, and that is wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Dr. Patel even bleached the eight healthy teeth I still have on the bottom so that they match the teeth in the dentures.

“I was a bit concerned about that, but he took care of that, and he did an excellent job. I really can’t say enough about him or the staff. Everybody there is so professional and nice. I recommend them to anybody. They’re topnotch.”

Defeating Dysphagia

Individualized therapy eliminates swallowing disorder.

Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

John Arket

The 22 years he spent serving in the US Army wasn’t enough for John Arket. After officially retiring from active duty in 1970, John spent the next 27 years working for the Department of the Army as a logistics supply specialist.

“It’s kind of funny,” John relates. “I spent my entire working life working for the government in one capacity or another. I wound up making a career out of it, and I can tell you I never regretted a day of it. I enjoyed it all.”

All of John’s 27 years with the Department of the Army were spent in Europe, most of them near Frankfurt, Germany. It wasn’t until he left military life altogether and retired for good that he returned to the United States and began to call Florida home.

“I wanted to go to Arizona, build a log cabin and live near the mountains, but the general put her foot down,” John says with a chuckle, referring to his wife. “She wanted to live in Florida, so that’s how we got here.”

Now 89, John says he was enjoying retired life rather well until last February, when a problem developed one day while he was at the barber shop waiting to get a haircut. While reading a magazine, he suddenly went blind for about 30 seconds.

“That scared the heck out of me, so I went to my eye doctor to see what had happened,” John relates. “He told me, You had a stroke. It wasn’t a serious stroke, but it was enough to start a whole bunch of problems.”

The most serious of those problems had to do with John’s ability to swallow. Shortly after suffering the stroke, he began struggling to swallow anything other than the most liquefied of foods.

“It was like I had a blockage of some kind in my throat,” John describes. “The food would just get stuck there, and I couldn’t get it down. For a long time, I couldn’t eat hardly anything, and after a while, I started to lose a lot of weight.

“I eventually lost forty pounds because of this swallowing problem, but after losing about thirty-five pounds is when I figured something serious might be going on. I was thinking, This might be it for me, so I finally went to see my primary care doctor.”

John’s primary care doctor referred John to Atlantic Ear, Nose & Throat.
That’s where he first saw Daniel L. Rothbaum, MD, who, after an initial evaluation and examination, recommended John undergo a
neurological follow-up.

“Given that he’d had a stroke, it was possible he might have had other deficits, so I wanted to make sure he had a neurological follow-up,” Dr. Rothbaum states. “Thankfully, John checked out well with his neurologist. He then came back to see us.”

A Deeper Dive

During John’s second visit, Dr. Rothbaum dove deeper into his swallowing issue by conducting a series of tests that determined the problem to be dysphagia, a swallowing disorder caused by conditions such as a stroke, head injury or dementia.

“After about four weeks of working with the therapist and doing the exercises at home, the swallowing problem was gone.”- John

One of the tests he conducted is called a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing, or FEES exam, which looks at the act of swallowing as it occurs between the mouth and the voice box and how the food is processed and passed from one area to the next.

Dr. Rothbaum also conducted an esophagram that looks at the area between the voice box and the stomach. Those studies showed Dr. Rothbaum that John’s issue was rooted primarily in his inability to get food into his esophagus.

“The esophagus is the food tube between the voice box and the stomach,” Dr. Rothbaum educates. “It has muscles that help the food move to the stomach, and if those muscles aren’t functioning properly, it can impair the transit of food.

“He had some problems there, but the bigger issue had to do with the process of getting food to the esophagus. He didn’t have a lot of coordination of the tongue, so he was having difficulty manipulating and processing food in the mouth.

“Putting all that together, we decided to treat him by focusing on rehabilitating the swallowing process between the mouth and esophagus through special therapy for swallowing, which he did with us right here in our office.

Swallowing therapy is an individualized physical rehabilitation program conducted by a certified speech-language pathologist during which sensory and motor exercises are used to strengthen the swallowing muscles.

“We use a number of modalities, some of which are exclusive to our practice, meaning we’re the only practice in the area that helps patients strengthen muscles and improve the coordination of different muscle groups to move chewed food, which is known as a bolus,” Dr. Rothbaum states.

“There are also some exercises we do to help with sensation because sometimes patients have problems knowing where food is as they move it from the mouth into the throat and into the esophagus.

“We help patients such as John with all elements of swallowing. We also give patients strategies for helping to manipulate the food bolus that include things like head and chin positioning and things like that.”

Back to Normal

Photos by Nerissa Johnson.

John’s stroke-induced swallowing problem is a thing of the past.

Swallowing therapy sessions typically last about 30 minutes each and are usually scheduled three times a week for eight to ten weeks. John completed his treatment in about half that time because he showed significant improvement quickly.

“We always like to confirm that the patient is responding the way we want them to, so we did the FEES exam on John again after four weeks, and he did terrific,” Dr. Rothbaum states. “His deficits had basically resolved as a result of the therapy by then.”

“Yes, it worked out really well for me,” John confirms. “After about four weeks of working with the therapist and doing the exercises at home, the swallowing problem was gone. Now, I’m eating anything I want, and my weight is back up to one hundred eighty pounds.

“It’s funny. Just the other night, I got up around midnight and had a big bowl of cereal. When this first started, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. They did a great job at Atlantic Ear, Nose and Throat of getting me fixed up.

“Dr. Rothbaum and all the people there were really good to me. I could not ask for better people, and I’m awfully glad they were there for me when I needed them.”



New-Age Treatment Option

Medical marijuana erases pain, anxiety and depression.

The combat action badge that Maria* earned while serving a six-month stint as a US Marine Corps combat medic in Iraq in 2013 is stashed away inside a small cedar box that rests on the top shelf of a guest room closet in her parents’ home.

“That badge is something I’m very proud of, something I’ll show my children one day, but it’s best kept out of the way for now,” Maria explains. “As you can probably guess, it brings back a lot of memories that I’ve been trying hard to forget.”

Among the memories Maria has struggled to shake is the one she has of a vehicle accident during which she suffered a disabling back injury. For years, the pain stemming from the injury incurred during that accident served as a constant reminder of it.

“I wound up having two back surgeries because of that accident,” Maria explains. “The first one didn’t take at all, and the second one didn’t really do all that much for me either. At one point, I was in so much pain, I could hardly stand or walk.

“I actually spent a couple of months in an electric wheelchair at that time. I eventually started to feel better and got out of the wheelchair, but the pain has been pretty constant. Suffice it to say, my back has not been the same since that accident.”

Nor has her life. She was honorably discharged from the military a few months after the accident, but her back pain was soon joined by symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Soon thereafter, Maria began fighting anxiety and depression as well.

The battery of issues made it hard for Maria to even look for work, much less find a job she was physically able to do. She eventually filled a position as a telemarketer, but for more than two years, she struggled to sleep and live the lifestyle she wanted.

“The worst part was, I was living on painkillers and anti-depressants, which made me feel like a zombie,” she says. “I was absolutely miserable, feeling anxious all the time and stuck in a job I didn’t like, and I was really starting to wonder if I would ever feel normal again.

“Then a friend asked me if I ever considered trying medical marijuana. I knew it had been legalized, but I had never looked into it because I didn’t think it would help me. After my friend asked me about it, though, I started doing some research.”

Through her research, Maria found Coastal Wellness Centers, a private medical practice that specializes in comprehensive medical cannabis treatment. It is the practice of Joseph Rosado, MD, whom Maria made an appointment to see in December 2017.

Dark Mood

“When Maria first came to me, she was taking nearly a dozen pills a day,” Dr. Rosado reports. “She was taking pills for her pain, pills for her depression and anxiety and pills for some of the side effects that came from taking those pills.

“She was not a very happy person at all. I remember she came in wearing dark sweat pants and a dark sweater, and her mood was very dark. She was a bit overweight as well because it was almost impossible for her to exercise.

“She was actually quite typical of many of the patients I see. She was at the end of her rope and looking for something different to restore her health. My goal with patients like that is to get them off their medications and improve their quality of life.”

Dr. Rosado achieves that objective through medical marijuana, which first became legal in the state of Florida in 2014. Since then, it has been approved as a treatment for more than a dozen conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and PTSD.

To obtain the legal right to use medical marijuana, a patient in the state of Florida must first be diagnosed by a physician such as Dr. Rosado as having one of its qualifying conditions, which include chronic pain.

The physician can then write an order for the medical marijuana, which can only be obtained through a state-approved dispensary and can only be distributed in capsule or drop form, as a topical preparation, or an extract that can be vaporized.

The three marijuana compounds that have provided significant medical benefits are cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and terpenes. There are also three chemovars, or strains, of cannabis: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis.

Dr. Rosado, who refers to medical marijuana as “remarkable” because it has “so many properties and works on so many different receptors in the body,” typically prescribes a combination of chemovars because each affects the body in different ways.

“Sativa tends to stimulate the body and mind and helps people focus and manage pain,” he says. “Indica slows the brain down, relaxes you and also addresses pain. Ruderalis has calming effects and is often recommended for people with anxiety.

“Now, with most medical marijuana doctors, they’ll just tell their patients to take ten milligrams of one of these ten times a day, and they send them off to the dispensary and that’s it. But I’m not like that.”

“I sit down with you and go over how to manage each medication, because that’s exactly what it is. And with Maria, I had her do Sativa in the morning before eleven o’clock, Indica from seven p.m. on and a hybrid chemovar in between.”

Improved Quality of Life

On the recommendation of Dr. Rosado, Maria opted to take her medical cannabis through a vape pen because the effects of the marijuana on pain are felt within three to five minutes and last for between two and four hours when taken that way.

“The effects have been amazing,” Maria exudes. “I’m completely off the pain pills now because my pain level is down by more than half, I’m sleeping better and I’m not as anxious as I used to be. I’ve even lost some weight.

“I probably gained about thirty pounds before I started seeing Dr. Rosado, but I’ve lost most of that because I’ve felt good enough to work out and exercise, which I hadn’t done regularly since before I left the Marine Corps.

“I feel like my whole quality of life is better, and I know it’s a result of the medical marijuana and the care I’ve received from Dr. Rosado because nothing I tried before that was working. This has worked, and I’m a better person for it.”

*Patient’s name withheld at her request.

The Future Is Now

Stem cell therapy repairs damaged, arthritic joints.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

JoAnne is looking forward to her
next vacation.

Internet dating sites weren’t in vogue yet when JoAnne Gee and her husband first found each other while surfing the World Wide Web some 25 years ago. That initial connection led to a first date in Chicago, and love blossomed soon thereafter.

“I was living in Wisconsin at the time, and he was a sportscaster working for a radio station in Atlanta,” JoAnne remembers. “He had to fly to Chicago for a Cubs game one weekend, and that’s where we first met up.”

After marrying and moving to Florida, JoAnne’s husband took a job with another radio station while JoAnne worked for a few years herself before devoting her time to caring for their daughter, who has Down syndrome and Tourette syndrome.

All along, the family dreamed of traveling extensively after JoAnne and her husband retired, but just as that opportunity was first presenting itself last year, JoAnne couldn’t help but wonder if she had waited too long to begin those excursions.

“It’s a problem I’ve been dealing with for about five years now,” JoAnne, 66, reveals. “I had always been very active, and about five years ago, I started to have a lot of knee pain. The first thing I did was go to see an osteopath in St. Augustine.

“The osteopath told me I needed to have knee replacement surgery, but he said I was too young to have it because it might only last about five years. We decided to do physical therapy instead, but that didn’t do me much good.

“The pain only got worse from there on, and eventually, it just became horrendous. I was so crippled up, I couldn’t walk my dog, go for walks with my daughter or even get up out of a chair. I was so inactive, I wound up gaining twenty pounds.”

“Getting the stem cell injections is one of the best things that’s happened to us. It’s given me my life back.” – JoAnne

At the peak of her discomfort last year, JoAnne, her husband and another couple went off on a previously planned trip to Hawaii. JoAnne spent most of that trip wishing she’d stayed at home.

“I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even walk on the beach,” JoAnne says. “Everybody was telling me to get a walker or a wheelchair, but I wasn’t about to do that. I was in tears most of the time, and I finally told my husband, I can’t live like this anymore.”

Even before returning from Hawaii, JoAnne began researching possible solutions for her knee pain. The one that most intrigued her was stem cell therapy. What convinced her to give it a try was an article she read in Florida Health Care News.

“I was waiting for an appointment with another doctor, and when I read the article, I told my husband, I want to do this,” JoAnne says. “So I went home, did a little more research, and after that, I called Coastal Integrative Healthcare and made an appointment.”

Coastal Integrative Healthcare is an integrative medical center dedicated to serving its community and providing pain relief for patients through the use of advanced chiropractic equipment, technology and stem cell therapy.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.The 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, they support the natural healing process by regenerating that tissue.

Also known as regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy stimulates 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 to complete 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, Coastal Integrative Healthcare providers have also performed the procedure on hamstrings, ankles and wrists.

Not all patients are good candidates for stem cell therapy. 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.

JoAnne’s first visit to Coastal Integrative Healthcare included a thorough examination conducted by Bryan Call, DC, that showed her knees still had enough cartilage in them to benefit from stem cell therapy. But just enough.

“He told me I was lucky, because there wouldn’t have been much more time left before I would have had to have the replacement surgery,” JoAnne says. “So we went home that day, signed the papers, and the next day, we went back, and I got the little shot.”

Though most patients begin to feel the effects of their stem cell injection after a month or two, some notice a reduction in pain and discomfort within a couple of days or weeks, according to Dr. Steflik. JoAnne was one of those who experienced the effects immediately.

“By the next day, I had no pain whatsoever, and as time went on, my knee function just got better and better,” she says. “When I went back for a check-up a few months later, I had full extension in my right knee and all but ten percent extension in my left knee.

“The tech who saw me said I would have never gotten that with a knee replacement, so I’m doing really well. I have full use of both my knees now, and I can do everything that I couldn’t do before, and that’s incredible.

“I can go for walks with my daughter and swim and take my dogs for walks. I can go on a vacation and enjoy it, and we already have another one planned. Getting the stem cell injections is one of the best things that’s happened to us. It’s given me my life back.”

Surgery Avoided

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Since undergoing stem cell therapy, Millie has resumed her active lifestyle.

Florida’s Indian River is not known as one of the state’s better areas to catch blue or stone crab, but it’s good enough for Millie Burch, a 66-year-old recent retiree who lists crabbing as one of her favorite pastimes.

“I get my share out there in the Indian River, so I’m happy with it” claims Millie, who has been taking life “day to day” since retiring from her 25-year career in the medical field, where she worked almost exclusively in administration.

Millie says she was fortunate to have a job that required her to work behind a desk. That was especially the case during the last three years of her career, when arthritic knees made it hard for her to do much of anything else.

“If I had to stand for any period of time my knees would just kill me,” she says. “As it was,I had to take ibuprofen every day just to be able to sit comfortably, so being on my feet all day would have been pretty hard for me.

“I used to walk a lot, about two miles every day with a neighbor of mine, but my knees got so bad that one day,I had to stop because I was in so much pain that I had to call my husband and have him come pick me up.”

That incident forced Millie to seek medical attention for her knee pain. She was initially treated with injections of cortisol, an anti-inflammatory that limits tissue damage, but she was eventually told she would need to have knee replacement surgery.

“I was really dreading having the surgery, so my husband and I started looking into alternatives,” Millie explains. “Then we heard about a seminar that was going to be held on stem cell therapy and decided to check it out.

“Before we went to the seminar, I also checked with a girlfriend that I used to work with. She had stem cell therapy, and I asked her how it was. She said it worked so well that she would do it again if she had to. That was all I needed to hear.”

The seminar Millie attended was conducted by Dr. Steflik of Coastal Integrative Healthcare. Impressed by what she heard from her friend and learned at the seminar, Millie soon made an appointment to be examined at the practice.

“Millie first came to see us this past February,” says Greg Salter, MSN, ARNP, at Coastal Integrative Healthcare. “When we first examined her, she still had some cartilage in both knees. She wasn’t quite bone on bone yet, but she was getting there.”

The diagnosis showed that like JoAnne, Millie was indeed a good candidate for stem cell therapy. Like JoAnne, Millie opted immediately to receive the injections, her hope being that they would alleviate the need for replacement surgery. They did that and more.

“If I had to do it again for another joint or something, I would. That’s how good this therapy has been for me.” – Millie

“I figured that if I was going to have to have the replacement surgery, I might as well give this a try first, and I’m so glad I did,” Millie raves. “I got the injections in February, and since then, my knees have only gotten better.

“I first started to feel a difference about four or five weeks after getting the injections. The first thing I noticed was that I could bend my knees again without them hurting. Then I was able to start walking again without it hurting.

“I’m not back up to walking the two miles I was walking before all this trouble started, but I’m getting there. And not only have I not had to get the replacement surgery, I have not needed a cortisol shot since I received the stem cell injections.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.Seeing Is Believing

Two recent visits to Coastal Integrative Healthcare showed Millie exactly how the stem cell therapy is working for her. In both cases, she learned that the spacing between the bones in her knees had increased as a result of growth of new tissue.

“I could literally see the difference in the x-rays, and, of course, I can feel the difference,” she exudes. “That’s what’s most important, and I’m telling you, if I had to do it again for another joint or something, I would. That’s how good this therapy has been for me
“And I would have it done at Coastal Integrative Healthcare. The people there are so nice, and they go out of their way to help you in any way they can. I recommend them to anyone. In fact, I have recommended them and stem cell therapy already.”

JoAnne echoes those sentiments.

“I recommend stem cell therapy to anybody,” she says. “And one of the great things about getting the treatment at Coastal Integrative Healthcare is they are there for you, no matter what. If you have any questions or concerns, they answer them all.

“The whole staff is wonderful. Dr. Call is an awesome doctor and very friendly. He knows what he’s talking about and gives you all the information you need. So are the physician’s assistants. They’re gentle and kind, and they offer lots of information.

“Everyone there does a great job, and they make you feel comfortable. The treatment itself takes fifteen minutes, and you’re out the door. And you don’t have to worry about any complications from surgery or anything like that, which is great.”

Nothing Lost, Plenty Gained

Technological benefits retained through instrument power upgrade.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Bruce has devoted most of his life to serving his country.

To this day, 80-year-old Bruce Card still worries that he may not have done enough to serve his country. This despite the fact that he did stints in the
US Air Force, the US Army Reserve and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“I really wish I could have done more, especially when I was in the Air Force,” says Bruce, who served four years in that branch, from 1958-62, as a member of its security force. “I sometimes feel a little guilty that maybe I didn’t do enough.”

Bruce has no reason to feel guilty. He immediately followed up his four years in the Air Force with a brief, two-year tour of duty in the Army Reserve. Then, shortly after turning 60, he began a 15-year stint with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“That’s what I enjoyed the most,” says Bruce. “I really enjoyed being out on the water and running patrols during events like the Super Bowl in Jacksonville and the G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia.

“We even rode down to Cape Canaveral a few times to set up parameters for shuttle launches to make sure the boats didn’t get too close. It was a lot of fun, and I don’t regret a day of it. I’d go back in today if they’d take me.”

Bruce’s military contributions all came while he battled a hearing loss issue he’s wrestled with since he was a teenager. He says he’s never been sure of what it was that caused the hearing loss, only that he has long needed hearing aids to correct it.

“Melanee is one of those people who go the extra mile for you, and I appreciate that. I recommend her and Miracle-Ear in a heartbeat to anyone.” – Bruce

“All I know is that I had two operations on both my ears to fix the problem but to no avail,” Bruce says. “It really became an issue for me when I was in the Air Force, and I’ve been wearing hearing aids ever since.

“I’ve had hearing aids from several different companies over the years, and to be honest with you, I always got disillusioned with them. For whatever reason, it just seemed as if the people that were working with me weren’t all that interested.”

Bruce’s growing frustration prompted a search about six years ago for yet another new provider of hearing aids. This time, on the recommendation of his wife, he decided to visit Miracle-Ear®. That’s where he met Melanee Bryans, LHAS.

“Melanee is very nice. What I like about her the most is that she’s very straightforward, up front and accommodating,” Bruce says. “She really cares a lot about helping people, which I like a lot.”

Upgrade for a Decline

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.Melanee has been performing annual evaluations of Bruce’s hearing since he first arrived at Miracle-Ear, and as part of her routine, she always suggests upgrades based on her findings. In Bruce’s case, that has proved critical.

“Every time that I’ve tested Bruce, I’ve noticed a decline in his hearing,” Melanee says. “When that happens, you can make adjustments to the hearing aids someone is wearing, but eventually, you just cap out on the power that the hearing aid is able to give.

“That’s what happened with Bruce just recently. He was in a very discreet pair of hearing aids with all the new technological bells and whistles, but he reached the threshold of those hearing aids and had to graduate to a more
powerful model.”

The hearing aids Bruce wore before his most recent visit to Miracle-Ear were receiver-in-canal models that include a small wire that goes into the ear canal. For Bruce, a custom ear mold was added.

Bruce’s new, more powerful hearing aids fit snugly behind his ear just like his last pair did and include newer technological advances.

“Just because you need more power in a hearing aid doesn’t mean you have to give up all that new-age technology,” Melanee emphasizes. “We’re still able to give him the direct streaming feature, which he loves.”

The direct streaming feature allows the wearer to hear sounds generated by an external electronic source such as a TV set, radio or smart telephone directly through the hearing device, which makes for a much clearer, cleaner sound.

“Better Than Ever”

“With direct streaming, you’re not losing any of the sounds you’re trying to focus 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.

“For example, if you’re sitting at home watching television with your spouse, by streaming the TV directly into the hearing aid, you can hear the TV clearly while your spouse can enjoy it as well but at a level that is comfortable for them.

“Another great feature of these hearing aids is that they allow the wearer to block out ambient noises and concentrate just on the people he or she wants to hear when they’re in a crowded environment like a restaurant.

“That’s a great feature for Bruce because he and his wife take a lot of road trips, and when he’s driving, he can adjust his hearing aids so that he can concentrate solely on his wife, which allows them to carry on a conversation he can understand.”

Though he once worked in the computer industry, Bruce says he’s amazed by the technology available in his new hearing aids. He adds that he’s hearing “better than ever” with them and emphasizes it’s the people that keep him coming back to Miracle-Ear.

“Melanee even came out to our house a couple of times to help me with a problem that I was having,” he says. “She’s one of those people who goes the extra mile for you, and I appreciate that. I recommend her and Miracle-Ear in a heartbeat to anyone.”

A Deeper Dive

Biomedical adhesive safely corrects varicose vein.

A large, white-framed photo of a school of canary-yellow butterfly fish swimming past a kaleidoscope of royal-blue, rhubarb-red and lilac-colored coral decorates one of the walls in the small den of Matthew’s* Longwood home.

The photo is one of Matthew’s prize possessions, and well it should be. He took it himself, after all, during what he considers to be the greatest adventure of his life – a dive three years back into the Coral Sea, the site of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

“The trip was a gift I got from my wife and kids for my sixtieth birthday,” says Matthew, a longtime scuba diving enthusiast who had a visit to the Great Barrier Reef on his bucket list for more than 40 years.

“Ever since I first took up scuba diving in college, I’ve always wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef. And I can tell you: It didn’t disappoint. If there’s a more beautiful place on earth, I don’t know that man has found it.”

Matthew’s trip to Australia came while he was in the throes of a battle he had long been fighting with his legs, especially his right leg, which at the time was almost as unsightly as the Great Barrier Reef was beautiful.

“It literally looked like it had little snakes growing up the back,” Matthew confides. “That’s how swollen some of the veins were in my calf. I asked my doctor about them, and he said, If they’re not really bothering you, don’t worry about them.

“That’s why I put up with it for so long, because it wasn’t really bothering me that much. I didn’t like the way that leg looked, but it wasn’t until just after we got back from that trip to Australia that it really started to feel uncomfortable.

“Before that, my leg felt kind of heavy at night, and there was some cramping, but I never put much thought into it until after that trip, when it became a nightly thing. All of a sudden, it felt like I was having a bad headache in my leg every night.”

An avid walker and golfer, the recently retired financial advisor says his leg issue never kept him from any of his favorite activities, but he admits it was annoying to spend most of his nights with his legs feeling restless and uncomfortable.

“It was actually my wife who finally got me to do something about it,” Matthew reveals. “She said to me one day, Aren’t you tired of dealing with all this discomfort every night? After that, she started making some calls and set me up with an appointment.”

Visible Damage

The appointment was with Heart and Vascular Care, where Pradip B. Baiju, MD, an endovascular specialist and interventional cardiologist, works with Robyn Kempf, PA-C, who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of venous disorders of the legs.

Matthew’s visit was with Robyn, who first saw him in January and couldn’t help but immediately notice the unusually large, rope-like varicose veins that were running up and down his calves and into his thighs.

“They were very large, finger-sized and ropy,” Robyn says. “They were branches of the greater saphenous veins, which run from the ankle all the way up to the groin, and they’re normally about two millimeters in width. But his were six-point-three millimeters in some places and ten-point-six in others.”

Robyn’s findings prompted her to order a venous reflux study, which uses ultrasound to determine whether blood is flowing properly through the veins. Matthew’s test revealed the cause of his dilated veins and discomfort to be venous insufficiency.

Venous insufficiency is the condition that develops when the tiny, one-way valves of the superficial leg veins that open and close while assisting the return of blood from the legs back to the heart become damaged or diseased.

When those valves are damaged, blood refluxes backward in the veins and pools in the legs. That leads to the kind of symptoms that Matthew was experiencing such as varicose veins, pain, swelling and fatigue.

In advanced stages, venous insufficiency can also cause skin discoloration, and breakdown of the skin that leads to venous ulcers, which are usually found around the ankles, where they tend to heal slowly, if at all.

“We measure the amount of reflux, or blood flowing in the wrong direction, in terms of milliliters per second, where anything over five hundred milliliters per second is significant,” Robyn educates.

“In Matthew’s case, we measured some spots where his reflux was forty-five hundred milliliters per second, so he was definitely suffering from a severe case of venous insufficiency.”

Modern Medicine

At Heart and Vascular Care, Robyn uses the most modern, advanced techniques to treat venous disease, including the VenaSeal Closure System, which uses a biomedical adhesive to close the damaged veins, allowing blood to be rerouted through other, healthier veins.

“We also offer a treatment called radiofrequency ablation (RFA) that uses heat energy to close the veins. They’re both catheter-based systems where we treat the vein through a catheter, but the VenaSeal system has a couple of advantages over RFA.

“One advantage is that with VenaSeal, there’s only one little entry point where we put the catheter. With RFA, there a few more needle pokes along the leg because I have to apply numbing medicine at different points along the vein.

“You can also treat more of the vein, all the way down to the ankle, with VenaSeal. With radiofrequency, you can’t really go past the mid-calf because the nerves run very superficially after that, and the heat can irritate those nerves.

“The other nice thing about VenaSeal is that after the procedure, the patient wears a compression wrap for only a couple of days, until they get their follow-up ultrasound. After radiofrequency, patients need to wear compression stockings for two weeks.”

Given his choice of the two treatments, Matthew chose VenaSeal over RFA because of the convenience it offers. He was surprised by how easy the treatment actually was and amazed at how effective it proved to be.

“First of all, the procedure was nothing,” he says. “It wasn’t painful at all, and after a couple of days of wearing the compression stockings, I couldn’t believe how good my legs looked and felt.

“Some of my buddies that I golf with tease me once in a while about how good my legs look now, but I don’t mind because they feel great. There’s no more of that discomfort that was nagging me at night, and that is a relief.

“That’s why I can only say good things about Robyn, because she did a great job. I recommend her and Heart and Vascular Care to anybody because my whole experience there was terrific, and with excellent results.”

*Patient’s name withheld at his request.

Periodontal Do-Over

Minimally invasive laser treatment resolves periodontal disease.

Of all the positions she filled during her long career in the health care industry, the one that 69-year-old Pam Bicking found to be the most rewarding was the position she held while working for a nonprofit organization called Healthy Start.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Pam Bicking

“Healthy Start is a program that helps women with their pregnancies,” Pam explains. “It especially helps women who are on Medicaid, and what we try to do is improve pregnancy outcomes. I was what they call a Mom Care Advisor.

“I loved the job because it made me feel like a mom myself. A lot of the women I dealt with were younger, had never been through a pregnancy and didn’t know which way was up. I helped them get through it all.”

The mother of two grown children of her own, Pam had to get through a medical issue herself a couple years ago when a toothache prompted a trip to the dentist while visiting a daughter in Atlanta. During that visit, Pam learned her toothache wasn’t her only dental issue.

In addition to that bothersome tooth, one that the dentist said would likely need to be extracted because it was on the brink of failing, Pam learned she was also suffering from a severe case of periodontal disease, or gum disease.

“I wasn’t surprised to hear about the gum disease,” Pam admits. “My mother had problems with her gums and so did my sister. And when I brushed, my gums would bleed. Not a lot but enough that I knew there was probably a problem.”

Pam soon learned that her gum disease was in fact bad enough that in addition to affecting her fast-failing tooth, it was also endangering her other teeth. Resolving the problem long-term, the dentist said, would require periodontal flap surgery.

Armed with that information, Pam returned to Florida, where she soon visited a dentist who confirmed the original diagnosis and agreed that a periodontal flap procedure, in which the gums would be repaired surgically, was indeed her best option.

Despite being a bit apprehensive, Pam agreed to have the surgery. She changed her mind just a day or two before the scheduled surgery, though, after reading an article in Florida Health Care News about a more modern fix for severe gum disease.

“The dentist in Atlanta had mentioned this procedure, but I thought there was no way it was available in Port Charlotte,” Pam reveals. “Then I read this article about a man who had it done by a dentist here, so I went out and called that dentist right away.”

Regenerative Procedure

The dentist Pam called is Joseph H. Farag, DMD, of Port Charlotte Dental Care, and the procedure she read about is a revolutionary gum treatment called LANAP®, which stands for laser-assisted new attachment procedure.

“Pam first came to me primarily because she wanted to learn about LANAP, so I told her all about it; then, I examined her,” Dr. Farag remembers. “It was after the examination that I told her I thought LANAP would work very well for her.

“One reason for that conclusion was because she told me she was going to have a tooth extracted during her visit with the other dentist. I could see why someone might want to extract that tooth, but I also thought that, with LANAP, we might be able to save it.

“It wasn’t a dead tooth. She just had a periodontal infection and not necessarily an abscess, and I thought that if we do the LANAP, we can wait and see how that tooth looks after that and then decide whether it really needs to come out or not.”

Encouraged by what she learned of LANAP, which would not only rid her of her periodontal disease but offer her a chance to salvage her failing tooth, Pam agreed to undergo the LANAP procedure.

Dr. Farag considered it a wise choice, largely because he strongly believes that LANAP provides far better results than the traditional flap procedure, during which a dentist uses a scalpel to remove the diseased tissue.

“With the flap procedure, you cut the gums open and then you scrape the diseased tissue out, clean the roots, scrape the bone, and when you’re done with all that, you sew it back together,” Dr. Farag explains.

“I am very pleased with the results of the procedure. And I couldn’t be happier with Dr. Farag and his staff.” – Pam

“It works, but the result is usually a very high gumline, a lot of recession and gum loss and sensitive teeth. With LANAP, we get even better results without that gingival recession because we’re not cutting the tissue.

“What we do instead is use the laser to make small troughs that are three hairs thick between the gum and bone. We then put our instruments into that gap and debride, disinfect and sanitize all the way to the bone and flush all the bad stuff out of there.

“The gums actually stay where they are, so it’s basically a nice way of getting up in there and cleaning things out and disinfecting and sanitizing the periodontal pockets without cutting everything open.”

In addition to healing gum tissue, LANAP can also improve bone quality and density. In some cases, it can even spark the regeneration of bone, according to Dr. Farag, who treats a patient’s entire mouth in three phases during a visit that lasts about two hours.

Dr. Farag explains that during the first laser pass, the energy from the laser kills any bacteria in the gums, vaporizes the diseased gum tissue and dehydrates the tartar on the teeth, making it brittle and easy to remove.

During the second step, the tartar is removed with a fine-tipped, vibrating, ultrasonic instrument. The teeth are then rinsed with an antimicrobial substance that halts the growth of new bacteria. During this step, the diseased lining of the tissue is removed, and the bone surrounding the teeth is debride of infected tissue.

Finally, during a third pass of the laser at a different setting than the first, an antimicrobial seal is created that prevents re-infection and releases growth factors from blood cells that help regenerate the attachment between the gums and the teeth.

“The patient doesn’t have any sensation of what we’re doing during the procedure because we use a local dental anesthetic, just as we do if we’re doing a filling,” Dr. Farag says. “That’s how patients stay comfortable during the process.

“And there’s no post-op discomfort because we’re not traumatizing anything. The gums are not inflamed, so they’re not painful. Afterward, we simply ask patients to briefly stay on a soft-food diet to prevent any tearing of the new tissue that’s forming.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

The LANAP procedure allowed Pam to save a failing molar.

More Brushing

Pam says that sticking to a soft-food diet for a few days following the procedure was a small sacrifice that she was more than willing to make to avoid the invasive nature of the periodontal flap procedure.

“The thing that I really liked about the LANAP procedure was that it didn’t involve any cutting or stitches and all that recuperative time afterward,” Pam says. “And this procedure takes care of your whole mouth in one visit.

“It wasn’t painful at all, and now, when I brush my teeth, there’s no bleeding. And I probably brush my teeth and floss more than ever now because it doesn’t hurt to brush, and I really want to take care of my teeth.”

One of those teeth that Pam is now taking better care of is the molar she was in danger of losing. Just as Dr. Farag suggested, the LANAP procedure allowed her to save that tooth while improving the status of several others.

“That tooth was such a bother because the pockets were so big around it that food would get stuck in it sometimes,” Pam says. “But I haven’t had a problem of any kind with that tooth since the LANAP procedure.

“I am very pleased with the results of the procedure. And I couldn’t be happier with Dr. Farag and his staff. I get regular cleanings from them every three months now, and they take such good care of me.

“I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me. And if it weren’t for Florida Health Care News, I wouldn’t have found them. I don’t know how my teeth and gums would be had I not read that article, but I doubt they’d be as healthy as they are now.”

Out with the Old, In with the New

Leading-edge replacement procedure corrects painful joint condition.

For more than 30 years, Chris Hill was at the forefront of the effort to provide clean drinking water to residents in and around the state of Florida. Were it not for his aching knees, the 64-year-old might still be at the forefront of that effort even today.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Chris says he was “lucky” to have found
Advanced Orthopedic Center.

“I had been self-employed since 1988 as a mechanical contractor,” Chris explains. “I designed, built, operated and serviced reverse osmosis water treatment systems – everything from the little ones that go under your sink to the massive municipal plants.

“The systems I worked with are the kind that primarily remove salt from water and make it drinkable. It’s a technology that’s been around for years, so I was really just a small player in a big boy’s game. I was until I was forced to retire.”

The knee problems that forced Chris’ retirement began at birth, when he was born with slightly bowed tibia bones. The condition was never corrected, and beginning in his teenage years, the bow in his legs began to put unusual pressure on his knees.

Nevertheless, Chris was quite active and very athletic during his youth. He played lacrosse, football and soccer while in high school and was good enough to earn a scholarship to continue playing soccer in college.

Early in his college career, Chris suffered a right knee injury so severe that he was advised by doctors to give up sports entirely or face the possibility of never walking normally should he suffer another injury of its kind.

Chris heeded the doctor’s advice and abandoned his soccer career, but from that point on, knee pain became a constant companion. In time, arthritis set in, and the warning that the unusual stress on his knees might keep him from walking normally became a reality.

“I carried the knee pain for more than thirty years,” Chris reveals. “My right knee was always the worst of the two, but when my left knee started to go a couple of years ago, I could barely walk. Just standing in place for thirty seconds was a problem for me.”

Certain that he needed replacement surgery on both knees, Chris began searching for an experienced doctor with access to the latest technology to do the work. He found exactly that in Nicholas Connors, MD, at Advanced Orthopedic Center.

“Dr. Connors had done a knee replacement for a close friend of mine who was very pleased with his work and whose advice I valued,” Chris says. “So when I first went to Advanced Orthopedic Center, I asked for
Dr. Connors specifically.

“When I met him, I remember thinking to myself, Boy, did I get lucky.

Modern Times

Chris was lucky indeed, because Dr. Connors now specializes in a state-of-the-art surgical replacement procedure that he was the first to perform in Charlotte County called Mako robotic-arm assisted complete knee replacement surgery.

Considered by Dr. Connors to be “the most modern way of doing partial and total knee replacement surgery,” the Mako robotic-arm procedure is an extremely precise operation that results in better-fitting replacement joints that heal faster and last longer.

“The hardest thing about any knee replacement surgery is getting the knee balance exact so that the ligaments and muscles aren’t too tight or too loose,” Dr. Connors educates. “What this procedure allows us to do is get that part of the surgery just right.

“It takes out the human error by using CT-based computer navigation to determine the ligament tightness in the knee. That allows us to get within a millimeter of correct tightness or looseness, which makes the replacement knee joint feel more natural.

“These surgeries have given me my life back. . . . This has truly been a life-changing event for me.” – Chris

“In addition to feeling more natural, the replacement knee joint lasts longer because it’s properly aligned. With proper alignment, you get a more precise balance of ligaments, and with that, you get less stress on the bearing surfaces of the joint.”

By using the Mako robotic-arm procedure, Dr. Connors says patients should get about 25 years of use out of a replacement knee joint. That’s at least ten more years than they could hope to get from a joint implanted through a traditional replacement procedure.

“The take-home message is, if you do this the first time using the computer navigation card and robotic-arm technology, you’re more likely to have it done right,” Dr. Connors emphasizes. “That way, you won’t need to have it done a second time.”

As Good as New

That take-home message was good enough for Chris, who accepted Dr. Connors’ recommendation to have the Mako robotic-arm procedure done on both of his knees, the first of which was replaced last March.

The second was replaced three months later, but Dr. Connors did more than just replace Chris’ ailing knee joints. In the process, he also corrected the severe misalignment of Chris’ knees that was the cause of so much of his pain and discomfort.

“He basically straightened my legs out,” Chris reports. “I still have my curved tibias, but we left those alone because the procedure to correct them would be to break one and straighten it, then wait six months and break the other and straighten it.

“I said No, thanks to that because my knees were really the biggest problem, and now, they feel great. I’m pain free for the first time in thirty years and doing things I haven’t done in a long time, like just walking around the grocery store, things like that.

“I’m telling you, these surgeries have given me my life back. I can go places and walk my dog again. This has truly been a life-changing event for me. That’s why I say I was so fortunate to have found Dr. Connors.

“He’s so knowledgeable and skilled. Like I said, he changed my life, and because of that, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for that man. That’s how much I appreciate what he did for me and how much respect I have for him.”

Surgeon’s Warning:

Smoking can smolder your smile.

When war broke out in Europe in 1939, the US Navy took the Naval Operation Base in Norfolk, Virginia off “standby mode,” bought up 400 acres of nearby land and launched an expansion project that turned the base into one of the Navy’s central operational hubs.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Chris has found a new dentist at Regency Court Dentistry.

Shortly thereafter, Chris Olivieri’s grandfather began an expansion project of his own.

After vacationing there as a child for many years, Chris’ grandfather began buying and developing land around neighboring Virginia Beach, where he slowly built a small empire by building mostly single-family homes for the soldiers working at the base.

“We now have properties in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Newport News, Williamsburg and York County,” says Chris, one of three brothers who took over the family business from their father, who took it over from his father.

“Virginia Beach has been very, very good to us, and I still spend about half my time there,” Chris adds. “But I call Florida home now because I consider myself semi-retired. It’s a great place to play golf and fish, which I love to do.”

Chris’ move to Florida came in 2010. Shortly thereafter, a dental problem developed that forced him to find a local dentist. He found Regency Court Dentistry, the practice of Naved Fatmi, DMD.
Following his initial visit, Chris visited Dr. Fatmi regularly for a year or two, but then came a stretch of years where business and family matters kept Chris from visiting any dentist at all. The consequences of his absences proved grave.

“My family has always had bad teeth, and I’m the kind of person you really have to push to go see a dentist anyway,” Chris reveals. “Well, add it all up, and in the time away from seeing Dr. Fatmi, some serious problems developed.”

Root Cause

A lot of those problems stemmed from the fact that for years, Chris had been a very heavy smoker. The habit contributed greatly to his dental issues, which included severe periodontal disease and several failing teeth, a few of which could not be saved.

“He also had a lot of stained teeth from his smoking, which directly influences the entire oral cavity,” Dr. Fatmi educates. “A lot of people think smoking only stains your teeth, but it affects so much more than that.

“It affects the gums, the tongue, even the salivary glands and saliva flow. A person who smokes a lot doesn’t produce as much saliva as a person who doesn’t smoke, so therefore that person who smokes a lot has fewer enzymes and proteins in their mouth.

“Anytime you have a situation like that, where there’s a lack of saliva, even if it’s a result of prescribed medications, that can lead to decay and also slow any healing that needs to take place after treating anything from a cavity to gum disease.

“A lot of people think smoking only stains your teeth, but it affects so much more than that.” – Dr. Fatmi

“All of the dentistry that we do, whether it’s a filling, a crown or implant, or even a treatment for gum disease, it will last. But if you continue smoking, then it’s not going to last, and that was something we had to explain to Chris.”

Chris says he heard the message loud and clear and worked hard to cut back on his smoking before returning to Dr. Fatmi, who began his restoration by first attacking the periodontal disease that was at the root of many of Chris’ dental problems.

Once that was completed, Dr. Fatmi took on the task of replacing Chris’ irreparable teeth, which were a premolar and molar on the top arch and a premolar and molar on the bottom arch. In each case, Chris chose dental implants as his replacement option.

Dental implants are root-shaped, screw-like bodies that are surgically placed into the jawbone. A single implant supports an abutment, and a crown is attached to the abutment, creating a new tooth. Two or more implants can support a fixed bridge or full denture.

Once they’re placed into the jawbone, dental implants typically require between four and six months to heal. It is at that point that the abutment and crown can be added. During the waiting period, patients typically wear temporary crowns or bridges.

In some cases, the placement of the implant is preceded by a bone-grafting procedure to ensure there is enough bone to support the implants. Chris was one of those who required a bone graft before receiving his implants.

While Chris healed from the extractions and bone graft, which can take anywhere from three to six months to fill in, depending on the amount of bone that has been lost, Dr. Fatmi did the restorative work necessary to repair Chris’ remaining teeth.

“You always want to take care of the base, which are the gums and bone, and get all the infection out first,” Dr. Fatmi explains. “Once that’s done, then you can move forward with the restorative implants and crowns, which is what we did with Chris.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Chris Olivieri

All Is Well

Chris received his implants in March. After wearing temporary crowns for several months, he was fit with his permanent crowns in the early fall. He says the process is “very involved,” but he raves over the outcome.

“Everything went very well,” Chris exudes. “And my teeth feel great. I’m telling you, Dr. Fatmi is really good. He’s very professional, and he’s so accommodating, which is important to me because I’m on blood thinners.

“That means that whenever he did the surgery for the implants, I had to come off the blood thinners for a few days, then have my blood checked again to make sure it wasn’t too thin before I went in to have the surgery. But he was great about that.”

Many dental problems require immediate fixes, and in most of those cases, the repair can be made immediately. But Dr. Fatmi points out that some treatments simply require more time than others, and it’s not unusual for patients to require more time as well.

“There are times when a patient simply cannot have all the work done at one time, and we understand that,” Dr. Fatmi says. “In cases like that, we often work in steps so as not to overwhelm the patient.

“We especially do that with patients such as Chris who are receiving multiple implants, because not everything happens overnight in that process. As long as the patient is okay with it, we’re okay with taking small steps to reach the ultimate goal.”

Chris’ ultimate goal in seeking help from Dr. Fatmi was to get ahead of a dental situation that had slowly spiraled out of control. He has achieved that objective, and in the process, he says, he found a dentist for life.

“Dr. Fatmi is definitely my dentist now,” Chris confirms, “and one of the reasons for that is because his entire staff is very nice, and they do a great job reminding you that it’s time to get in there. They stay on top of things, and I appreciate that.

“Another thing I really like about Regency Court Dentistry is that if you have an appointment at eleven o’clock, they get you in there by eleven-o-five. I’m kind of an impatient guy and very busy. Sitting around isn’t my thing.

“They’ll even see you on weekends if necessary.

Dr. Fatmi has always been there for me, and I want to point out that during this whole process with the implants, not once did I ever feel any real pain.

“Before he did anything, he showed me the x-rays and explained why he was going to do what he had planned and how he was going to do it. He did that throughout the entire process, and did a great job, which is why I recommend him to anybody.”

Life in the Fast Lane

Drug-free, nonsurgical decompression therapy relieves back pain.

Daytona International Speedway® is the home to a lot more than the DAYTONA 500® that kicks off the NASCAR® racing season each February and the Firecracker 400 that has traditionally been held there each Independence Day.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Mary Kay Hansen

In addition, the track plays host to a series of smaller races, a fan ride-along adventure known as the NASCAR Racing Experience and a variety of corporate events. It’s Mary Kay Hansen’s job to make sure they all run smoothly.

“I’m an administrative assistant to the senior vice president of operations in charge of the daily operation and maintenance of the speedway,” says Mary Kay, 57. “We actually have something going on here three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

“I used to be in the special events department and did a lot of work setting up the infield, pre-race shows for the big races. I’ve since moved into the operations department, where if anything goes wrong during a race or event, it’s our job to fix it.”

Mary Kay recently needed some fixing of her own. A former high school softball player who was involved in two car accidents before her 19th birthday, she has long dealt with nagging, but mostly manageable, pain in her left hip.

A slip last September changed all that. Shortly after the slip, the pain in Mary Kay’s hip began to intensify. Soon thereafter, an even more intense pain that ran from her lower right back, through her right hip and down into her right leg began to seize her.

“The pain was horrible,” Mary Kay describes. “I was having trouble sleeping because of the pain in my left hip, and I was having trouble doing almost anything other than sit for a while because of the pain on my right side.

“I’d be standing at my kitchen counter cooking dinner or helping my husband cook dinner, and the pain was shooting down my leg. It was so intense, it even hurt my job, because a lot of what we do is out on the track, and I couldn’t stand for long periods of time.”

After attempting to fight through the pain for a few months, Mary Kay visited her primary care physician, who attempted to relieve her agony through a series of steroid injections. When that didn’t work, Mary Kay visited a chiropractor.

“Some friends told me this chiropractor was great and to try acupuncture and all that, and so I did that for about four months,” Mary Kay reveals. “The chiropractic adjustment worked a little bit, but the pain was still there, and I was just miserable.

“I couldn’t even bend over, so my son-in-law eventually recommended I go see this chiropractor that he’d been seeing for some neck and back pain he was having. I was so miserable that I said, Sure, I’ll give it a try.”

Time to Decompress

The chiropractor Mary Kay’s son-in-law recommended is Jason Job, DC, of DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression. After an initial evaluation and thorough examination, Dr. Job began treating Mary Kay with standard chiropractic care in early July.

The standard treatments provided Mary Kay with a little relief, but it never lasted for very long. Finally, after a couple of weeks, Dr. Job ordered an MRI that showed the cause of Mary Kay’s problem to be a cocktail of disorders.

In addition to spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerves in the spine, Mary Kay’s MRI showed she was also suffering from spondylolisthesis, a significant forward slippage of several of the vertebrae in her lower back.

“When I first started spinal decompression treatment, my pain level was at least an eight on a scale of one to ten. . . . Now, it’s usually zero.” – Mary Kay

Those results told Dr. Job that conservative chiropractic techniques were not going to be enough to solve the problem, and since Mary Kay was adamant about avoiding back surgery, Dr. Job suggested she undergo spinal decompression therapy.

Spinal decompression is a drug-free, noninvasive, nonsurgical therapy that can be used to treat bulging, herniated or protruding spinal discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, neuropathy in the arms or legs and post-surgical neck and/or back pain.

At DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression, decompression therapy is delivered through a machine called the DRX9000™, which has the capacity to produce 150 pounds of tractioning decompressive force through gentle motion.

“If you want the best results for your patients, you need to have the best equipment,” explains Jeremy M. Gordon, DC, clinic director and owner of DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression. “That’s why we utilize the DRX9000 decompression system. In my opinion, it is unequaled in its design and clinical results.

“During a typical treatment, we start by getting the patient comfortable on the table. The DRX9000 then creates a very gentle decompressive force on the discs that reduces the pressure and helps pull some of that disc material back inward, alleviating the pain and rehydrating the injured disc.”

Cervical and/or lumbar disc injuries can be treated with the DRX9000, which is typically part of a treatment program comprised of 24 visits across ten weeks. Each visit lasts about an hour, with the first ten designed to determine the patient’s likely response.

“We start by treating patients five days a week for two weeks, and our goal is to see a fifty percent improvement in function and pain in those first ten visits,” Dr. Gordon relates. “If we see that improvement, we continue with the remaining fourteen treatments.”

That standard course of treatment has proven very effective. DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression has tracked the results of patients receiving its spinal decompression therapy for more than a decade, and their findings are remarkable.

“After tracking hundreds of patients, I am very proud to report that our patient satisfaction rate exceeds eighty percent,” Dr. Gordon proclaims. “That’s a much higher satisfaction rate than invasive surgery.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Spinal decompression has allowed Mary Kay to resume her active lifestyle.

Decompression treatments are typically followed by cold therapy and/or electrical muscle stimulation to restore proper muscle tone, decrease inflammation and maximize the effects of the treatment. It’s an all-inclusive therapy that literally worked wonders for Mary Kay.

Pain Level Zero

“I had no idea what to expect from the spinal decompression treatments, but I found out right away they’re not painful at all,” Mary Kay exudes. “You literally cannot feel the pull that’s happening because it’s so gradual. But you can feel the results, and quickly, too.

“When I first started spinal decompression treatment, my pain level was at least an eight on a scale of one to ten. But after just three treatments, I could already tell a huge difference. After those first three treatments, my pain level was already down to about four.

“From there, it just continued to get better and better, and now, it’s usually zero. Sometimes, I feel like it may be at a one, but most of the time, it’s zero, and that’s allowing me to sleep and work and do all kinds of things I couldn’t do before.

“I used to play golf a lot, and I just started playing again because my daughter picked it up, and I thought, Oh, I’d love to golf with her. I wouldn’t be doing that were it not for the spinal decompression treatments.

“My husband and I also like to hunt and go off-roading in a side-by-side, and for a long time, I was afraid to do either of those things because I was afraid of what any misstep or jolt in the side-by-side might do to my back. Now, I’m not apprehensive at all.”

Mary Kay says the only thing better than the results of the spinal decompression treatment is the way she was treated by Dr. Job and the staff at DeLand Chiropractic & Spinal Decompression.

“Oh my gosh, they’re all so caring,” she enthuses. “I think the world of Dr. Job, and when you walk in, the staff greets you by name, and they treat you like you’re part of their family.

“It’s a great atmosphere because you can tell they really care about their patients. I highly recommend them to anyone who has any kind of back pain. What they can do for you is incredible, and it worked great for me.”

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