Expression “A face that only a mother can love” It may come from the 1976 film Emma May. Mothers generally have a strong bond with their children and refrain from making derogatory comments about them, especially when it comes to their appearance. So did my own mother, but I gave her a good reason to be her critical.
In early 1975, dental school graduation was approaching and orthodontic training was about to begin. I needed help first, so I spoke to her mother on the phone. “Mom, do your dentures fit? Before I can graduate, I need to make another set to meet my requirements.” explained.
“I’d like you to make new teeth.” she said. She arranged her 200-mile trip to Kansas City. There, her week-long process begins next Monday. Made impressions with her version of the teeth and tried them out. She likes the way she looks. By Friday I was ready for the final steps to insert the new teeth and make sure they were comfortable.
Once things were done with confidence, I summoned the instructor to my cubicle and introduced him to Mother. “Mother, this is Dr. Steiner. Dr. Steiner, this is my mother. We just finished her new dentures.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Sommers.” Steiner said. He then checked his mother’s bites and began looking for areas of irritation that needed attention. “Very, very nice,” he commented. Her mother returned a happy smile. “Everything looks very good. You can be very proud of your son. Nice to meet you, Mr. Sommers.” he said before returning to his nearby office.
My mom suggested we sit in the school reception area while I collected my things and put them back in my locker. “I’ll meet you at the front in ten minutes and then go home.”
As soon as my mother turned the corner of the drawing room, Dr. Steiner stuck his head out of the office and barked. “Summers! Come to my office – NOW! He closed the door behind me.
“I should give it to you”debt“With dentures!” he cried. “But I can’t! I tell you”a“–Because that was your mother!”
my heart sank. “Dr. Steiner, I don’t understand. What’s the problem?
“I should give it to you”debt“Because the lower denture only had three incisors instead of four.”
In the car to my apartment, I told my mother what Dr. Steiner had said. She lowered her passenger-side sun visor and smiled in the mirror. “They look great” she said.
Probably 20 years later my mother and I were visiting again by phone. She commented that she felt she needed another new tooth. I called a dentist friend in her area to find out who she was seeing. An appointment was scheduled, so I went to Kansas and took her mother to her first appointment, and the dentist invited me to take her to the treatment room. So I sat quietly as she examined and visited with her mother. “Mr. Sommers, do you have any questions or concerns?” As the first engagement drew to a close, she asked.
“yes,” Mother replied: “Only one. I want my new teeth to have only three lower incisors, like the old ones my son made for me years ago.” She gave the doctor a big smile.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we might all do well to remember something special our mother said. For me it had nothing to do with my face. Rather, it was a defective tooth that only a mother could love.
Somers is a retired Minot orthodontist, violinist with the Minot Symphony Orchestra, and author of the book. “Retirement? You can’t handle the truth!