Study Material of Oh I wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth (Summary and Word Meanings)

Summary of the Poem

The poem begins with a regret from the poet who wishes that she had cared for her teeth in childhood when she had been eating too many toffees and sweet sticky food. She was too careless and never listened to the instructions of her mother. She was too tempted by candies, lollies, sherbets and other sticky sweets. Her mother cautioned her time and again that a tooth is like a friend, and it should be looked after well. But the poet could not resist sweets. She tried to brush with up and down strokes, put lot of tooth paste on her teeth, but the damage was already done. Decay had given way to cavities and eventually to drillings and fillings. Now during adulthood, the poet regrets but nothing can change the condition of her teeth. Painful injections and visits to the dentist have become her routine. The poet feels so miserable and guilty over how she used to mock at her mothers ugly and false teeth. Now her condition is no different.

Terms and Meanings from the Poem

• Gobstoppers - a large, hard sweet
• Choppers - teeth
• Liquorice - candy made with the dried root of the liquorice plant
• Sherbet dabs - tiny sweets
• Brittle – breakable
• Conscience – soul
• Pricked - punch
• Pokin' and fussin’ - checking carefully
• Amalgum - a mixture of mercury and silver used to make fillings

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