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Healing hands fight dental disease

Posted: November 13, 2010 7:54 p.m.
Updated: November 14, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Prosthodontist Rex Baumgartener, left, and oral surgeon John Scaramella examine the Liga International website, which connected them with Victor Ramirez, a patient from Sinaloa, Mexico. Liga International is dedicated to improving the lives of people from that region by providing health care to individuals who otherwise would not be able to aff...

Victor Ramirez, from Sinaloa, Mexico, suffered from an aggressive ameloblastoma — a tumor on the enamel of the teeth.

Through the help of Liga International, a team of doctors comprised of John Scaramella, oral surgeon; Rex Baumgartener, prosthodontist; and Rodica Grasu, periodontist, assisted Ramirez by completing a jaw reconstruction and dental implants Thursday.

“These types of tumors can get so big, the face can be completely distorted from it,” Scaramella said.

Ramirez’s tumor, which grew to cover much of the left side of his jaw, was removed in October at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

The reconstruction procedure involved the removal of a portion of Ramirez’s leg bone, which was then reattached to his jaw.

According to Baumgartener, if the tumor removal and jaw reconstruction hadn’t been done at the same time, Ramirez would have been left without half of his lower jaw.

After the surgery, Ramirez came to Scaramella’s Newhall office earlier this month to undergo a 3-D cone tomography, jaw reconstruction and implants.

This is the first part of the dental procedure, which has to be done in stages, Scaramella said.

After the implants are placed, they take approximately four months to integrate before the second procedure, the uncovering of the implants, can be completed and Ramirez will be able to regain full chewing functionality.

“We wanted to help this young man as much as possible,” said Scaramella, who anticipates that Ramirez will return to his office for the next leg of the procedure in the future.

Scaramella and Baumgartener were connected with Ramirez through Liga International, a group dedicated to improving the health of the people of Sinaloa, Mexico, by providing free medical care.

Ramirez was able to return home on Saturday. “He is a really nice young man,” Scaramella said. “He was very happy and very grateful.”


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