Woman loses all her teeth and gains 30 pounds

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

My grandmother was morbidly obese, and she had all her teeth extracted at an early age. Because of having all her teeth removed in one sitting, she couldn't eat solid food for a long time.

Several days after having her teeth extracted, she visited her doctor for a routine appointment. Before my grandmother could say a word, the doctor noticed she had no teeth.

"You have finally found a way to lose weight," her doctor exclaimed. "I bet you will have a rather impressive weight loss while you are recovering from your dental surgery."

My grandmother agreed enthusiastically. She asked my mother to translate for her because she spoke only Portuguese. "Yes," she told the doctor through my mother. "I think I am losing weight already. I feel lighter and thinner."

When my grandmother got on the scale, the doctor say she hadn't lost any weight, but he wasn't concerned. It had only been a few days since her dental work. He told her to make a follow-up appointment in six weeks to check on her weight loss and to make sure she wasn't losing weight too quickly.

The next time my mother accompanied my grandmother to the doctor, my grandmother stepped on the scale only to learn she had gained a whopping thirty pounds, without teeth. According to my mother, the nurse looked puzzled, but my grandmother appeared unconcerned.

They waited patiently for the doctor to enter the room. When he did, he immediately addressed my grandmother's weight gain and asked her what in the world she had been eating with sore gums and no teeth.

Using my mother as a translator, my grandmother told her physician that she had been eating lots of soft foods that didn't bother her gums. When he asked her to describe some of these soft foods, she listed an impressive number of fattening foods that were soft.

My grandmother had been eating ice cream, pudding, porridge, cream of wheat, oatmeal, soup, and buttery mashed potatoes in massive quantities. It was no wonder she had lost no weight.

On a good day, she even managed to gum a tuna salad sandwich on soft white bread or a couple cheeseburgers from McDonald's, which are really quite soft and easy to chew even without teeth if you are determined enough.

On the ride home from the doctor's office, my grandmother turned to my mother sadly and said, "It's bad enough I don't have any teeth. Did he expect me to give up all the foods I loved, too?"

My mother felt sorry for her and took her out for ice cream before dropping her off at home.

Personally, I had some minor difficulty eating after having two teeth extracted, but I couldn't imagine having all my teeth pulled in a single sitting and still having the ability to eat the way my grandmother did. She must have been very determined.

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