Sandy had her 10th oral surgery by Dr. Villafana

Update on Sandra Petry, Bonnie’s Daughter

Note: Sandy had all of her teeth removed in 2001 because of osteomyelitis (infected and dead bone) of the jawbone. Since 2001 she has had several dentists in the U.S. and Mexico remove infected and dead bone, a tip of a retained tooth root, dead and infected bovine bone grafts, and abnormal nerve endings, from her jawbone.

Sandy’s surgery this time was one of the most traumatic she has experienced, because this area, where tooth #9 was located (upper, left front tooth), is the area where no dentist, even with sleeping gas, has been able to get her numb.

By the way, this was the tenth oral surgery to repair Sandy’s jawbone performed by Dr. Villafana in Tijuana, Mexico since November 2004. Dr. Villafana is the only dentist who has been able to make an improvement in Sandy’s overall health (her body, especially her breasts, has been swollen and painful due to the infection in her jawbone). With each surgery by Dr. Villafana Sandy has felt a little better.

Tooth #9 had a long, thin root and when it was extracted in 2001 by Dr. Andrew Landerman in Santa Rosa, CA, the tip of the root broke off and remained in Sandy’s jawbone for almost three years (the tip was extracted in 2004 by Dr. Clark’s dentist, Dr. Benjamin Arichega, in Tijuana, Mexico).

Tooth #9 is one of the two upper front teeth. Sandy remembers as a child she learned to never drink out of a “glass” glass because if the glass bumped against her front teeth it caused terrible pain. (She never told me about this — she thought everyone had the same reaction when a glass touched their front teeth!)

This time the anesthesiologist was successful in getting the area of tooth #9 numb, but Sandy did not go to sleep or forget what she was told was happening while Dr. Villafana worked on her (before the surgery the lady anesthesiologist told her she would go right to sleep and not remember anything when she woke up).

It takes an awful lot of anesthesia to put Sandy under. Her dad was like that as well as her brother and sister.

After studying her facial MRI for 20 minutes, Dr. Villafana worked on Sandy for an hour and a half. Then he immediately came out to the waiting room and talked to me and told me everything he found and did. He is a real sweetheart and wants Sandy to recover from this disease as badly as we do.

He opened her gum on the inside (back along the roof of her mouth) and looked at the palate bone (the roof of her mouth). He said there is a hole in the bone where another dentist, Dr. Swann of Milpitas, CA, removed a “torus,” and it has healed normally.

Then he opened her gum on the outside (up to the area under her nose) and removed (by cutting, not cauterization, like he said he would three weeks ago) all the abnormal nerve endings in the area from tooth #9 back to tooth #13.

Note: Since 2001 Sandy has lost so much bone due to oral surgeries to remove infected and dead bone from her jawbone she had to have bovine bone grafts placed in her jaw so she could wear dentures.

Dr. Villafana explained that abnormal nerves growing where they do not belong is a common complication of bone graft procedures.

Dr. Villafana cut and trimmed (so the nerve ending is now deep in the bone) one large nerve ending growing out of her jawbone at tooth #9 that was attached to her gum tissue that he said would give Sandy a lot of relief as, until now, every time she bit into anything or chewed anything, that nerve was being pulled on, which was irritating both the bone and the gum tissue.

Then he drilled into the bone at tooth #9 and found a small piece of a bone graft that had not integrated into Sandy’s bone. It was inside the bone that is now part graft and part Sandy’s bone. That particular bone graft was placed in her jawbone by Dr. Swann in 2003. Dr. Villafana said the small piece he removed didn’t look infected, but it certainly didn’t belong inside her jawbone.

I thought it was funny Dr. Villafana would say “it didn’t look infected” as everything we have read about foreign objects (retained pieces of tooth roots after extractions, ligaments that normally surround a tooth root but should be removed when a tooth is extracted, non-integrated bone grafts, even the roots of root-canal-filled-teeth) left in the jawbone harbor bacteria and the toxic waste the bacteria produce.

When we left Dr. Villafana’s office, at one in the afternoon, Sandy was feeling okay, but Dr. Villafana told us that Sandy would be in serious pain when the anesthetic wore off because of how extensive the surgery was. He doesn’t believe in pain medication and recommended she have acupuncture, but we had not scheduled anything like that.

When we got back to the motel we got in the car and started for home right away. It was around 3 pm. (We only stayed at the motel one night because we drove nine hours on Thursday and packed the car Friday morning before we went to Tijuana.)

By the way, Dr. Villafana’s office is five minutes from the border and our motel is five minutes from the border as well. We go in and out of Mexico — from the motel to the dental office — in a shuttle bus and it took us more than an hour and a half to get back into the U.S. this time when it usually only takes 20 minutes to cross the border coming back, and that’s because we have to get out of the shuttle at the door to customs and walk past a U.S. customs officer and show our IDs and go out another door and walk a block to get back in the shuttle on the U.S. side (going into Mexico the Mexican customs officers just look in the shuttle and wave us on).

In the car Sandy fell asleep and I drove. Traffic was moving until we got to the area of Highway 5 near Disneyland. Then, for 20 miles or so, traffic stopped and started (only going between 5 and 10 miles an hour) and there were five lanes of traffic going our way stretched out in front of us for as far as the eye could see. It looked like a giant parking lot and I suddenly felt really, really exhausted.

We hadn’t been on the road three hours yet (I usually drive nine hours with a couple of gas and food stops after Sandy has her oral surgeries), but this time I made a command decision and found a motel for the night. It was only 6 pm, but we both went to bed and fell asleep immediately.

As it turned out it was a good thing we stopped, because at 10 pm Sandy woke up and was in terrible pain. She waited to tell me how bad she was feeling until I woke up to use the bathroom at one thirty in the morning. We decided to find a hospital and go to the emergency room to get something for her pain. The hospital was not too far away and they took very good care of Sandy. She was even given pain pills to last until she gets the stitches out. (We thank God Sandy has Medicare — which is due to her osteomyelitis doctor, Dr. Robert D. Tufft of Oakland, CA)

We went back to the motel and tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t, so we took our showers, got something to eat (Sandy had clear soup) and headed home early Saturday morning.

It only took us six hours to get home because there was light traffic and we only stopped for gas and to use the restroom once. Sandy slept the whole way home and, after more clear soup she slept the rest of the day and all night, too. Today, Sunday, her face is swollen and her eye is almost shut, but she is doing okay.

Thank you for your prayers. I know they helped. I told Dr. Villafana that at least a dozen people had sent email messages and had called to tell us they were praying for Sandy (he hugged us when we left and told us he’s sure he got everything out of her jawbone that was causing her distress).

Love,

Bonnie

About the Author Bonnie O'Sullivan

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