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16 October 2014

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Teething Troubles

By Caroline Hargaden
March 2004, Monmouth
A digital story from Capture Wales

Caroline's 'Interesting Mouth'...

"My two front teeth first got me into trouble when I was eight. They left their bloodied impression on a class-mate's forehead when we collided accidentally.

I knew when I had really annoyed my dad, he called me Bucktooth.

When I was 13, the dentist waved me and my problems away so I decided on self-help. I spent hours pressing my teeth down hard on the metal bed-frame and I learnt to smile with my mouth closed.

When I was 21, I met a twinkly-eyed dental-student, who so wowed me, when he said, "You've got an interesting mouth," that I'm still married to him 25 years later.

My first brace co-incided with my first teaching post. Suddenly, braces came out of closets, drawers and pencil-cases - a novel way to bond with my new form. Over the years I got on with life and I forgot to close my mouth when I smiled.

A few years ago, I wanted my lower tomb-stones crowned. If I had my jaw broken and re-set, I would be able to breathe and chew more easily and have the teeth fixed. But, I wouldn't look like me. I couldn't do it.

Telling my story has proved a revelation. Looking at photos of the younger me, I wonder, what teeth?"

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a 58 year old retired teacher / librarian. I am the wife of a dentist, mother of three daughters and grandmother to one gorgeous baby girl. I endure the gym and enjoy swimming, drama, food, wine, good company, reading and gardening.

What's your story about?
My obsession with my (biggest) defect - my teeth. My teeth made me keep my mouth shut and my profile low. Life overtook me in my twenties and I suddenly realised that my problem was in my head. The confidence given and support provided by my husband needed celebrating. It also made me realise how much I had forgotten and forgiven in relation to my father.

Has this always troubled you?
Yes, if you become too self-absorbed, you make mountains out of molehills. It is good to stand back from the problem and try to see it from others' point of view. Life's too short and important to dwell on personal defects - enjoy the good things!

How did you find the workshop experience?
Three things come to mind: the sense of friendship and mutual interest; stimulating and sympathetic instruction and learning new skills and learning more about myself.

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