In this poem by Pam Ayres, the poet regrets about the negligence of dental hygiene during her childhood. She recalls the various kinds of candies, lollies, sherbets and other sticky sweets that she has consumed. As a result she developed cavities, caps and decay in her teeth.
In her adulthood, she feels guilty and says she should have resisted the temptation to buy sweets with her money and paid more attention to her teeth when she was a child. She recalls that though she tried to brush with up and down strokes, put lot of tooth paste on her teeth, it was of no use as the damage was already done. Decay had given way to cavities and eventually to drillings and fillings.
Now, she sits in the dentist’s chair staring at him, she feels remorseful about all the sweets that she had ever eaten. The dentist tells her that amalgums will be filled in two of her teeth. Amalgum is the mixture of mercury and silver that is used for filling in the teeth. Painful injections and visits to the dentist have become her routine. The poet also regrets nothing can change the condition of her teeth. The poet feels so miserable and guilty over how she used to mock at her mother’s ugly and false teeth and is sure that a similar fate awaits her.
The poet conveys a message that prevention is better than cure. It is written in a humorous way making light of a painful visit to the dentist.