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‘Pretty lookin’ old lady:’ Dental surgeon gives his grandmother a new smile ahead of her 100th birthday

BOISE, Idaho — A board-certified oral surgeon in Boise, Idaho said he never imagined he would be operating on someone as near and dear to his heart as his own grandmother. Through a full-arch restoration treatment, Dr. Scott Bobst extracted his 97-year-old grandmother’s two remaining teeth and inserted dental implants, anchoring a fixed denture of fully-functioning, permanent teeth.”And when she woke up from anesthesia, she was inviting every single person she talked to to her 100th birthday party,” said Dr. Bobst, DDS, Boise Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center.

It was the first time since 1936 Helen Payne saw herself smile with a full set of teeth.

As she admired herself in the mirror, Payne said, “Pretty lookin’ old lady.” The room erupted in laughter.

Her new smile only helped to ensure her and her grandson’s humorous relationship would never stop.

“She’ll start giggling, I’ll start giggling,” said Bobst. “Pretty soon we’ll both start giggling and we just can’t stop.”

Before the surgery, Payne lived with only two teeth that were decayed.

“I looked at myself in the mirror and I got the giggles, and I thought, ‘Wow, what a weird-lookin’ person that is,'” said Payne. “And so I called my grandson. He came, and I think he kinda laughed too, but he invited me to come into his office.”

Back when she was growing up in the 1920s and 30s, dental hygiene was a different ballgame.

“When she was younger, when she did get cavities, they would just pull teeth back then,” said Shirl Bobst, Payne’s daughter and Dr. Bobst’s mother.

Payne had been lacking teeth for decades, making it only really possible to enjoy soft foods.

“From a health standpoint, you know, being able to chew and eat a better diet — I think — is really important for her,” said Dr. Bobst.

Now, nearing her 100th birthday party, “I don’t have to laugh at myself now,” said Payne.

She was excited to both eat cake and laugh with confidence

“Thank you,” said Payne, to her grandson.

“You’re welcome,” said Bobst.

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