It’s pretty typical for young children to kick up a fuss and show some resistance when they’re told to brush their teeth. For Jay, however, the resistance was so strong that he would never brush his teeth at all. And with little encouragement from his parents to clean them, he held off doing so for a full 20 years. But after realizing that the state of his teeth was holding him back, he paid a visit to a very brave dentist.
Jay is a 21-year-old sanitation worker from the U.K. Like any young man, he has dreams and aspirations about what he wants to do with his life. In his case, he wants to be a physiotherapist or have some sort of career in sports. But there was a major obstacle in his way.
Jay’s teeth were, to put it mildly, a mess. The reason this was such a major hindrance in his pursuit of happiness? “I feel embarrassed to tell somebody how to look after themselves when I haven’t taken care of my teeth,” he confessed to the British TV show Embarrassing Bodies.
But Jay’s was no simple case of a crooked smile or gingivitis: for him, the problem ran so deep that he had developed a fear of dentists. And the less desire he had to visit one, the more the problem would manifest itself. The mind-boggling part, though, is that it was all self-inflicted.
As a child, moreover, Jay was not taught to take care of his teeth. It was a freedom he was afforded that he exploited to the maximum, and so for 20 years his dental hygiene routine had been minimal. The unhealthy state of his teeth was exacerbated, moreover, by his lifestyle and dietary choices.
As Jay confessed to Embarrassing Bodies, “Over the years I’ve eaten the wrong foods, I’ve drank lots of fizzy drinks and I haven’t really taken care of them. I haven’t really brushed them or flossed or anything like that.” And the cumulative effect of two decades of neglect on his teeth was horrendous.
So, realizing that his situation was holding him back from chasing his dreams, Jay plucked up the courage to visit a dentist. Dr. James Russell was the man tasked with examining the 21-year-old, and what he revealed was enough to turn the stomachs of even those with strong constitutions.
In particular, a layer of tartar had built up on Jay’s teeth over the years. Tartar is essentially remnants of food that cling to the surface of the teeth, and in Jay’s case it had become so thick over 20 years of neglect that it needed to be obliterated with a scaler to reveal the teeth themselves.
But the tartar had only been hiding the full extent of the deterioration of Jay’s teeth. Indeed, it would take a C.T. scan to reveal the real damage. And only then did a picture begin to emerge of the horror that his mouth had become.
The scan revealed that because of so many years of decay, Jay would need 11 of his teeth extracted. But it wasn’t all bad news for the young man: the scan results also revealed something positive that offered him some hope for his future.
Dr. Russell learned that, despite Jay’s decaying teeth, his roots and bones were relatively healthy. This meant that he was a surprisingly good candidate for implants, despite the shocking appearance of the contents of his mouth. However, Dr. Russell initially declined to offer the treatment to his patient.
That was because Jay’s lifestyle and food choices weren’t conducive to taking care of implants, which can be expensive and require a lot of maintenance. In fact, Dr. Russell would only perform the procedure with a promise from Jay that he would abandon his bad habits and adopt a new dental hygiene routine.
“It’s sort of, change your lifestyle time,” Dr. Russell told Jay on Embarrassing Bodies. “Cut down on the [soda], or just stop. Cut down on the [candy], start brushing your teeth, start trying to floss – especially once we’ve got things cleaned.” But, then again, old habits can be the hardest to break.
Jay had never had a toothcare routine to speak of. Incorporating one, then, would mean that he would have to radically alter the lifestyle he had had for the past 20 years. It was a huge commitment. Would he be able, or indeed willing, to change overnight?
Jay, however, was determined. And when he told Dr. Russell that he was willing to make the necessary changes to his habits, Russell committed to fixing Jay’s teeth. But if it hadn’t been hard enough for the 21-year-old to visit the dentist to begin with, he now had to face his biggest fear.
Namely, Jay had to climb into the dentist’s chair to endure some pretty gruesome work. First off, metal screws were inserted into his gums: these implants serve as the roots of each tooth. In the space of two hours, he had this process performed on 11 of his decaying teeth.
But Jay then had to wait two months for the work to heal before the next stage of the process. At the next visit to the specialists, artificial teeth were then attached to the screws with dental cement. These implants were custom-made for Jay, even going so far as to imitate the original color of his teeth.
And the results were stunning. What’s more, the visibly happier young man would take on a whole new look to complement his newfound smile. He now has a stylish haircut, and he has shaved off the beard that he no longer needs to hide his pristine teeth.
But could he keep them that way? After all, teeth do require regular cleaning. A lack of attention to dental hygiene, moreover, can lead to a buildup of plaque, which in turn can cause tooth decay and gum disease. And a similar lack of cleaning can cause damage to implants as well.
Well, according to Jay himself, he’s turned over a new leaf and now takes good care of his new teeth. As he told Embarrassing Bodies, “Now I’m brushing twice a day and flossing every day. I’m doing a lot more to keep the teeth that I have now. I’m a much more happier person. I’m definitely going to be going forward to fulfill my dreams.”