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An early start for happy smiles

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By John Wise, DMD

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and several other organizations are working tirelessly to educate the population on preventative care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states “…early childhood caries, the disease process that leads to tooth decay, cavities, and tooth pain is the #1 chronic disease affecting young children…” It is 5 times more prevalent than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever.

One question that parents ask is “When should my children have their first dental visit?” It is recommended that the first visit should occur at approximately one year of age, but many parents bring their child in when the first tooth erupts, around 3 to 6 months of age.

The first visit will be a very quick evaluation, but it will be beneficial, nevertheless. It will give the child early exposure to the dental environment and help prevent future anxiety about dental visits. It is an opportunity for the dentist to provide appropriate counseling to the parents regarding developmental expectations and appropriate hygiene.

Some parents have made the mistake of letting a newborn fall asleep with a milk or juice bottle in his or her mouth. Don’t let this happen! Milk has lactose in it, which means it contains two-sugars, glucose and galactose. This behavior leads to milk bottle caries, and can cause badly decayed teeth which in some cases, are not able to be fixed! Plus, the bottle nipple will slowly move newly developing teeth into awkward positions. A thumb-sucking habit or extended pacifier use can have a similar effect.

We all have our favorite snacks which are typically a part of our daily diet. Whether they be crackers, candy, or sugary beverages, it is extremely important to limit the frequency of consumption. Every time a snack with high-sugar content is consumed, the bacteria inherent in the oral cavity digests some of the readily available sugar and secretes lactic acid which breaks down tooth enamel and causes cavities. It does not lead to serious problems as long as there is a limit to the number of “meals” each day.

Cheese is a wonderful alternative to high-sugar snacks. An article from the National Institute of Health analyzed the effect of cheese in cavity prevention. Primarily, cheese helps to stimulate salivary flow which will aid in removing food debris from your mouth. The alkaline nature of saliva will also buffer against the acidity produced by bacteria. Lastly, the high calcium and phosphorous content of cheese may play a role in the remineralization process of tooth enamel. However, copious consumption of cheese can lead to other health concerns like obesity or constipation, so moderation is key.

While regular dental visits will aid in cavity prevention, another benefit is that teeth problems can be identified early. Growth patterns in the upper and lower jaws vary widely among individuals, and some children may be pre-dispositioned to “crooked” or “crowded” teeth. In order to correct the poorly positioned teeth, orthodontic, or in some cases, surgical intervention may be required. However, the earlier these abnormalities are identified the easier it is to correct them.

The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to children’s dentistry as well as most other aspects of life. No child should have to suffer tooth pain or endure oral irregularities. These simple steps of preventive care can ensure a healthy, happy smile for years to come.

Smile for a Lifetime Foundation to give twelve local students free braces

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Smile for a Lifetime Foundation is a non-profit, national foundation established to give scholarships for braces to needy, deserving children 7 to 17 years old. The Beaufort, Hampton, and Jasper (B-J-H) Chapter of Smile for a Lifetime is receiving applications for twelve scholarships to be given this year. The applicant must be a B-J-H resident living as a dependent with parent or guardian whose total income is below poverty level. Applications may be picked up at all eight B-J-H Comprehensive Health sites, The Beaufort, Bluffton, Jasper, and Hampton Health Departments, WBHC 92.1 Radio, The Hampton County Guardian, The Jasper County Sun, or download the application at

The average value of each orthodontic scholarship is $5,500. The Foundation thanks Dr. Skeet Burris and Dr. Travis Fiegle for changing lives with each new smile for a lifetime. The application deadline is March 15, 2016.

Dr. Majd Chahin to lead Beaufort Memorial Medical Oncology practice

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Advanced oncology nurse practitioners Kathryn Jones (left) and Susanne Baisch (right) with Dr. Majd Chahin (middle).
Advanced oncology nurse practitioners Kathryn Jones (left) and Susanne Baisch (right) with Dr. Majd Chahin (middle).

Beaufort Memorial Hospital has acquired Sea Island Cancer Center, the longtime practice of Dr. Majd Chahin. His practice, now named Beaufort Memorial Medical Oncology, remains in the same location in the Beaufort Memorial Keyserling Cancer Center and continues to offer treatment for a wide array of cancers as well as benign hematological conditions.

Chahin, a board-certified hematology/oncology specialist, will continue to work with his staff, including advanced oncology nurse practitioners Kathryn Jones and Susanne Baisch.

Since opening his former practice in the Keyserling Cancer Center in 2006, Chahin has worked closely with Beaufort Memorial to develop a comprehensive cancer program to serve patients in the Lowcountry. He will continue to serve as both medical director of Beaufort Memorial Oncology Services and principal investigator for the hospital’s clinical trials program.

A graduate of Syria’s Tishreen University School of Medicine, Chahin completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Lutheran Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, followed by a three-year fellowship in hematology/oncology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Jones, born and raised in Beaufort, is an advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner. She began working with Chahin in 2003 after earning her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University’s Honors College and her master’s degree in nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to that, she served as an RN first in the Beaufort Memorial Emergency Department, then on the hospital’s third floor.

Baisch, a longtime Beaufort resident who received a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and master’s degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina, also holds an advanced oncology nurse practitioner certification. During her 17-year career as a health care provider, she worked as both a nurse and a nurse practitioner at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and several Lowcountry medical practices before joining Chahin’s practice in 2014.

Trigger finger: what is it and how is it treated?

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By Dr. Edward R. Blocker

Trigger finger is one of the more common problems that can affect your hand. Its name is not meant to imply that it affects the finger used to fire a weapon. It can actually affect any finger or thumb.

The name “trigger finger” is a descriptive term of what the finger feels and even looks like when the symptoms occur. After making a fist or closing your hand around an object, the trigger finger (or thumb) will catch or “trigger” as you try to straighten it back out. In extreme cases, you may have to use your other hand to straighten it. These triggering episodes can be mild or can cause quite a bit of pain. There is often a painful nodule that can be felt in the palm at the base of the triggering finger.

Although it may feel like the problem is in your knuckle, it is caused by a problem with the tendon that controls your finger.

Our tendons are like puppet strings. Muscles pull the tendons which then move your fingers. There are tendons on the palm side of your hand that when pulled cause your finger or thumb to flex down into your palm to make a fist. The tendons on the backside of your hand pull your fingers back out straight.

The tendons that bend (flex) your finger down are more complex than the ones that straighten them out. These flexor tendons pass through a sheath as they slide back and forth to move your fingers. At times, the tendon can get hung up or caught as it passes through this sheath. This causes the finger to catch or “trigger.” An analogy would be a large knot of fishing line that can’t easily pass through the rings on a fishing pole. The knot hangs up in a ring and if enough pull is applied, suddenly passes through.

It is generally a simple problem to treat.

Option 1: It might resolve on its own. We call this treatment “tincture of time” or “benign neglect.”

Option 2: The simplest treatment option would be to try an anti-inflammatory such as Advil or Motrin. This can have the affect of quieting down the inflammation around the tendon so that it can glide through its sheath without catching. Not everyone can take anti-inflammatories so if in doubt check with your medical provider.

.Option 3: A cortisone injection near the tendon can sometimes cure this problem. Cortisone is a strong steroid anti-inflammatory that is put right at the source of the problem. This can quiet the inflammation and allow the tendon to glide back and forth without catching.

Option 4: A simple outpatient procedure can be done to open the area of the tendon sheath where the triggering occurs. This also allows the tendon to glide back and forth without catching.

In my practice, if someone comes in with a trigger finger, they’ve usually already put up with it for a while (option 1) and it hasn’t gone away. They have also often tried an anti-inflammatory (option 2). So the next step I usually recommend is an injection. Sometimes a patient will say they don’t want an injection because it’s “just temporary.” However, in the case of trigger finger, an injection can sometimes cure the problem and is therefore usually worth a try before resorting to surgery.

Of course, sometimes an injection is temporary or doesn’t work at all. If it worked 100% of the time we’d never have to do the surgery. So for those that have persistent, bothersome triggering not relieved with the other three options, or who simply don’t want a shot, surgery is an option and has a very high likelihood of success.

Trigger finger is one of the more common hand conditions we see in orthopaedic practices. While it is usually not debilitating, it is usually very annoying. Fortunately, we have relatively simple treatment options that are likely to be curative.

Edward R. Blocker, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with Beaufort Memorial Orthopaedic Specialists. A graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina, Dr. Blocker completed his internship and residency at the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center and the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children – Greenville Unit. He has been practicing in Beaufort for the past 18 years.

Pre-sent from the past and into the future

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By Martha O’Regan

We are living in a very exciting time as human consciousness continues to expand in ways that even a few years ago were only shared by a small number of open minded individuals and certainly not in a public arena. Now the lines that have kept so many structures separate are beginning to soften, blur or completely vaporize as families and communities come together to discuss ways to grow, create change and evolve as a culture. Diversity in ideas and beliefs are more accepted as the need to judge someone else’s views as right or wrong, bad or good, is being replaced with the ability to see that many parts create the whole. No longer are we settling that everything has to look a certain way or that we need to follow the ‘sheeple’ by doing what everyone else is doing. We are beginning to believe again in the power of love, compassion, equality, and joy more than we can remember.

There are many scientists, teachers, guides and gurus out there sharing the fact that we create our reality from things we can’t touch, see, hear, or often even imagine and we’re buying it…at least as much as our brains can handle. Why? I believe it is because we can sense it deep in our core as a spiritual knowingness that has always been there, but is just recently re-awakening. The challenge is that even when we can feel it, we still want it to make sense and to be able to have an intelligent linear conversation about it, yet the quantum world is far from sensible or linear. Books about returning from near death experiences, reuniting with past lives, setting intentions or manifesting your dreams, goals and desires all share the same theme…..we are bigger than we think we are. We are more than we can think we are because we are infinite and go beyond space and time. That is all fine and good, but, what about right here, right now? How do we use this amazing knowledge to live in our world today, pay our bills, manage a home and family, and maintain health and well-being? The answer we are given is to live consciously each and every moment, watch what unfolds based on what shows up in front of us, and simply ask ‘how is this serving my highest good’, ‘what is this teaching me’ or ‘how/why the heck did I create this’? Sounds so simple…just not always easy, especially at first while we learn to weed through all of the distractions that we have created to make our lives make sense or to keep us safe. These are the structures we can begin to dissolve as we choose to wake up to new possibilities.

I just love looking at words and trying to imagine who made them up and what they must have been thinking at the time. While contemplating what it means to stay in the present moment, I saw the word through the quantum field and it hit me that each moment has been pre-sent from something I thought, said, heard, believed or created from the past. Likewise, every thought, word and deed that I may be having right now is being pre-sent to become my future. Whoa….right? That moment changed everything for me allowing me to catch those thoughts that I certainly have no desire to manifest on any level, and shift them immediately into something that I would love to create. Of course, I miss a few along the way so when that unexpected or bizarre experience shows up ‘out of nowhere’, I can trust that it is ‘just what I asked for’ from somewhere in my past and can begin to explore the ‘why’ without judgment or upset but with curiosity and discovery. So, take the challenge to observe what shows up as this ‘pre-sent’ moment without judgment and take care in what you pre-send into tomorrow. Live Awake….Have Fun!

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

in Contributors/Dr. Mark Siegel, MD FAAO/Health by

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

Macular degeneration is a major cause of irreversible vision loss in the United States and around the world. As many as 11 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration. To observe Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month, Sea Island Ophthalmology is offering tips for prevention, early detection, and treatment of the condition.

Facts about Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The number of people living with any form of macular degeneration is similar to that of those who have been diagnosed with all types of invasive cancers.

As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of AMD. This number is expected to double by 2050.

AMD is the result of deterioration of a central area of the retina called the macula, which is the location of central vision. This deterioration can make vision become blurry or wavy. It can also result in a blind spot in the center of your vision.

Age is a major risk factor for developing AMD. Other risk factors include: a history of smoking, hypertension, and family history. AMD is more common among women and Caucasians but is seen among all races.

There are two types of AMD: dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular or exudative). Most AMD starts as the dry type and in 10-20 percent of individuals, it progresses to the wet type.

Age-related macular degeneration is always bilateral (i.e., occurs in both eyes), but does not necessarily progress at the same pace in both eyes. It is therefore possible to experience the wet type in one eye and the dry type in the other.

Tips for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Prevention and Treatment

If you have a family history of AMD, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam yearly after the age of 50.

AMD occurs less often in people who exercise, avoid smoking, and eat nutritious foods including green leafy vegetables and fish. If you already have AMD, adopting these habits may help you keep your vision longer.

Although some vision loss from AMD is irreversible, effective treatments can slow down progression or in some cases reverse vision deterioration.

Nutritional supplement formulations containing antioxidants and zinc (studied in the AREDS and AREDS2 clinical trials) have been shown to slow the disease in those who have intermediate AMD and those with advanced AMD in only one eye.

Anti-VEGF injections (medication specifically aimed at stopping the progression of the abnormal blood vessels that cause the vision loss) are an effective treatment for the wet or neovascular form of AMD and may control or reverse vision loss if administered shortly after the onset of vision loss. Early recognition of vision change, evaluation by an ophthalmologist, and starting proper medical treatment may be sight-saving.

Anti-Complement treatments and Stem cell therapies are promising treatments for the advanced dry form of AMD, which are being studied in multiple clinical trials.

We are perfect, just the way we are!

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By Susan Stone

You are perfect! We all are…we may be perfectly flawed, but we are perfect all the same.

What would change in your life if you KNEW you were the right size, the right gender, the right height, the right color and you were in the right and perfect place?

We place so much importance on the “form”. The world tells us what is beautiful…is it true?

The world tells us how much we are worth, by the bottom line of our bank accounts…how can that be?

True and TRUTH are two different things. They often have little to do with one another.

Whatever we believe to be true shows up in our lives that way. We will find evidence to support whatever we have decided is true for us. And we will join with others who agree with us. Just think back a decade or two. What did you believe was true when you were 10, 20 or even 40? What belief did you think was worth fighting for? Do you still feel that way? Or, have you discovered some greater truths since then? Have you ever wondered why people argue over (go to war over) what they are convinced is true, but you clearly see it differently? How can two opposing ideas be true?

It’s because we make it up. We all do. We decide what is true…or we allow the world tell us what is true. “True” will not set you free. It will bind you in the illusion. But “Truth” will always set you free. And that is the feeling you will feel every time you see it, feel it and hear it.

What would change in your life if you could see yourself the way the Heavens see you?

To them we are swirling bits of atomic light. They don’t see our fat, our wrinkles, our tattoos or the color of our hair. They see perfection…they see our essence.

You are perfect for your mission here on Earth. You have something that nobody else has. You came with a gift to give to the world. And if you don’t find the courage to use it, then we will have to do without, because no-one else has your gift.

Most of us spend hours in front of the mirror or in the gym trying change our appearance. We buy cars and houses and many other items to show the world that we have “arrived” or to satisfy something within ourselves.

The truth is that we get tired of our “things” very quickly and either forget about them or replace them. The truth is that brown hair is not better than grey hair (my granddaughter calls mine “sparkles”), or that pink is not better than green, any more than is younger better than older. We are making it all up!

Do what you do because it makes you feel good. Wear your favorite clothes even if they are not “in style”. Recently a cashier made the comment that I looked like a throwback from the 60’s, apparently because I dress like an old hippie. I thanked her.

If purple hair makes you feel good…then do it! Do the work that makes your heart sing! Call it play for profit! Accept that the years have changed the way you look and feel and be grateful for all the wisdom/wrinkles you have earned.

My master teacher has told me many times; “If it feels good, do it and if it doesn’t, don’t!” She said that got her in a lot of trouble when she was young (smile). She’s 89 now.

“They” are not imposing anything on us. WE ARE THEY!

If we allow the world to tell us what is true, then we will struggle to the end of our days. But if we can accept our own perfection and see ourselves that way, we will know peace.

Scientific breakthrough promotes graceful aging

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By Dr. Robert Knitzer

What if there was a new, safe way to accelerate the body’s natural ability to heal itself; a way to bring about positive changes in health by selectively removing damaged or destroyed cells and protecting already healthy cells; an approach that was native to the body so that it didn’t interfere with one’s current medication or dietary regimen? This was the type of hypothetical medication we sought to create in my very first Pharmacology class in medical school several decades ago… It is now available!

The nature of the human body is to seek balance and to heal itself. Despite all the toxins in our food and water supplies, from sun exposure, chemicals, stress, over-exertion, infection, etc., the body is constantly trying to make adjustments to return to balance.

Over the past 20 plus years, basic medical research has moved to a greater understanding of how the body functions by looking at its smaller and smaller components. In this way, researchers begin to see the body as an organism whose health and efficiency is based on the cell health. Cells were the unifying thread or common unit of all tissues, organs and systems. This breakthrough in understanding as an approach to treatment is diametrically opposed to our present notion that our bodies consist of a number of separate and unrelated systems… the Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Renal and Musculoskeletal, to name a few.

Cell function became the focus of great research with hundreds of scientific articles being published on the topic monthly. Entire journals and most recently a textbook are now devoted to this field. Since 1998 it has been an area from where multiple Nobel Prizes have been awarded. What has been found is the critical role that tiny molecules called Redox Signaling Molecules (RSMs) play in our health and well-being. We now know that these molecules, once thought to be waste molecules in the formation of cellular energy, are vital to immune function and the activation of massive amounts of antioxidants lying dormant in our body. They signal what cells are healthy and need only be protected and what cells are damaged and either require repair, or if that is not possible, replacement with healthy cells. The clearer and louder the signal, the more effectively and quickly the body can work to heal itself. It’s the difference between hearing a call on your cell phone with only one bar of signal versus four bars.

Over time these RSMs are depleted in number and efficiency. Ultimately this leads to a decrease in energy and the changes of aging that we all experience. Medical researchers at universities, the National Institute of Health, as well as some pharmaceutical companies, have been working to create these molecules in the laboratory. All attempts had been unsuccessful due to the highly reactive nature of the molecules. In fact, in the body these molecules are so unstable that they are created, react and degrade within nanoseconds. In the recent past, however, what was once thought to be impossible was made possible and has been verified by independent research labs. One company has successfully created balanced pairs of these molecules in a stable, bioactive liquid form available for ingestion and a gel form for topical use. The implications of this medical breakthrough are so great that it will likely fuel medical advancements for years to come.

In coming articles, I will share more results of research with Redox Signaling Molecules in the areas of healing and anti-aging, beauty and skin care as well as athletics.

What in the world are you looking for?

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By Martha O’Regan

For the last 20+ years, I have rarely kept up with world news and I honestly don’t feel as if I am missing a thing, except maybe a little added stress. I get enough info through headlines that pop up on the internet and in general conversations, but I prefer to read a book that I know is fiction rather than wondering if the news I’m receiving is real or not.

As a broadcast journalism major in the early 80’s, the key points taught were to go out and find news whether there was any or not and that there was no longer a need to confirm sources. So basically we had free reign to report anything we wanted whether or not it was true as long as it attracted an audience. Clearly not much has changed in 35 years except we receive it more and faster due to our immense speed of connectivity to the entire world. Shock value and outrage seem to be the key markers for news these days depicting a world living in fear, anger and upset. Having just returned from two back to back trips across the country where I spent time in airports, hotels, restaurants, taxis, etc., I have to say I saw a different world.

Prior to leaving, a friend asked if I was afraid to be traveling alone with the world being in such chaos. This had never dawned on me as I have never been afraid of traveling alone. As my friend continued to share her version of what was going on in the world, I could sense a seed of worry wanting to plant itself in my mind. Knowing that seed had the potential to change my entire travel experience, I decided to embark along my adventures more determined than ever to be what I wanted to see in the world.

Over the next 10 days I encountered countless thoughtful conversations with complete strangers, joyful holiday greetings, smiling connections along city sidewalks, complete with direct eye contact, calming environments and some beautiful opportunities to observe graciousness of giving and receiving. Knowing that vibrationally we create our own reality, I used this opportunity as an experiment to create my own magnificent reality by being in my own magnificence as often as I could. And it worked! Despite two opportunities where my luggage decided to take a later flight, ultimately delaying our rendezvous, I managed to find calm amongst the chaos, joy instead of upset and deep faith in the human spirit. I’m sure there was struggle going on all around me but I was totally unaware of it as I was focused on my own experience because it was my experience to own.

The human experience is vast with a variety of people, events, places, stories; some that are more pleasant and interesting than others. As much as we’d love to have every encounter be fun and easy, it’s those ‘other’ experiences where we have our greatest opportunity to truly grow as we shift our own perspective of the situation. Those ‘less than pleasant’ individuals or situations are our greatest teachers when we allow ourselves to choose to observe and respond from the heart with a little compassion or graciousness rather than auto-react from the head with judgement, anger or upset. We are always at choice with how we respond.

So, what are you looking for every day? What are your expectations in your fellow employees or family members? How are you choosing to be, even when life shows up as a struggle or in chaos? Compare your responses to what you are actually seeing and experiencing each day. If there is a huge contrast, consider beginning your own experiment of creating a different reality than what you are currently experiencing, exploring what it feels like to be your magnificent self. Be what you want to see in the world and see what in the world shows up! Wishing you Joy-filled Holy Days full of Celebration of the Magnificence!

Cataract laser surgery available at Beaufort Memorial Surgery Center

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Photo courtesy of Paul Nurnberg.
Photo courtesy of Paul Nurnberg.

Beaufort Memorial Ambulatory Surgery Center is now offering state-of-the-art cataract laser surgery that could potentially improve visual outcomes and reduce the risk of complications.

A year after purchasing the outpatient surgery center, BMH invested in the LenSx laser-assisted surgical system, making it possible for surgeons to remove cataracts with a precision and accuracy not attainable with traditional surgery.

The new computer-controlled system provides a sophisticated 3-D image of the eye, allowing the surgeon to create a precise surgical plan unique to an individual patient.  The surgeon then directs the laser over the eye to make the small corneal incisions necessary to remove the cataract. In traditional cataract surgery, a diamond blade is used to make the incisions.

In addition to creating better incisions, the LenSx laser allows surgeons to monitor what is going on inside the eye during the procedure.

Several Beaufort Memorial surgeons, among them ophthalmologists Drs. Richard Akers, Kenneth Farr, David Hunter, Jane Kokinakis and Mark Siegel will be using the LenSx to perform cataract surgery.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this advanced technology in Beaufort,” said Surgery Center Director Carolyn Evec. “Patients can now have refractive cataract surgery, astigmatic correction and presbyopia correction close to home with a state-of-art surgical system offering laser precision.”

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