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Poor dental hygiene and bad teeth
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Questions in the Dental Health forum are answered by Dr. Jerome Tsang. Topics covered include bridges, cavities, crowns, and x-rays.

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Poor dental hygiene and bad teeth

Hello. I am turning 24 in a few weeks, and have treated my teeth poorly all my life. I probably have been brushing my teeth once every few months for the past 7 years. I had a root canal done in high school on one tooth that died and created an abcess (abscess), which was excruciating. Now, one of my front teeth is half dark, almost as if the color has vanished. Based on what I've read online, it means the tooth is dying, if that's true then I imagine once the whole tooth loses its color the infection will hit the gum and I'll experience the same pain again. Can someone confirm this?

Also, I see no point in making a conscious effort to change my habits if it's already too late. If I start brushing 3 times a day regularly 7 days a week, even if it takes a decade, will it help my healthy teeth survive into the ages? I can't approach girls because of my teeth and it's very depressing.
540545_tn?1377626518
Well, great hygiene will be necessary to maintain whatever health you have left of your teeth.  Unfortunately cavities don't go away by brushing alone.  You'll need to see a dentist to get all your cavities and gum disease taken care of.  Once that happens, regular brushing flossing etc will help maintain your health.
18 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
So you think it's a cavity and not an infection? How much do you think it's going to cost? I'm a poor college graduate trying to figure out how to make lots of money.

Here's another discrepancy. When I had the excruciating pain infection years ago, and the got the root canal done, that tooth still has its color. This is strange because the front tooth is half grey but there's no pain.

Another fear I have is all my teeth falling out or needing to be extracted.
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540545_tn?1377626518
Well your teeth will discolor if they have a root canal.  That's fairly normal.  What I'm hoping it isn't is that its discoloring due to a cavity underneath the tooth, making it look discolored.  

You won't be able to know until you are properly diagnosed by a dentist.  Are there any local dental schools nearby?  You may want to contact your local dental society to see if there's any "free" clinics that support dental care.  Or you can look into purchasing some dental insurance through your college?  Or any combination of the above.
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Avatar_m_tn
I live in NYC, so I'm sure there are some good dentists in the area.
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Avatar_m_tn
My mom told me I have dental insurance with "delta." And I think you misunderstood. The tooth that underwent the root canal still has its normal color, whilst this greying tooth in the front is painless.
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540545_tn?1377626518
Oh that's great.  Is it DeltaCare or Delta Dental?  I actually went to NYU for dental school.  You may want to look into it although it takes more time to get things done, it is done in a very thorough manner due to the oversight of the student dentist's by their faculty.  

Or if you want a personal referral, I do know of a few dentists in that area.  

The tooth that's greying without a root canal is worrisome.  It may have a pretty large cavity that's causing the discoloration.  Also, definitely start brushing and flossing to preserve your teeth and try to stabilize it as much as you can.  Even if it doesn't undo any of the damage over the years, it'll slow down the progress of damage until your dentist  can take care of it all.

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Avatar_m_tn
Hey thanks a lot Jerome. You've given me some hope. I mean I'm not sure how many teeth there are I imagine at least 20, so two dead isn't that large of a percentage. Yeah you seem to have some pretty solid credentials so it's a privilege to be getting advice from you. A personal referral would be great. I have to be honest though, I'm afraid of seeing a dentist not because of any procedure, but because of how badly he's going to tell me teeth have come along.

Also I was wondering... what do you think was the fate of the teeth of our long late ancestors when toothpaste didn't exist? My assumption is they didn't brush
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Avatar_m_tn
So I've been looking up cavities as I've never had one. If indeed I have a cavity, according to what I've read, they're basically going to cut off the dead part, the grey part, which is going to make me look really ugly. Replacing the missing part with gold is going to make me look even worse. Isn't there a way for them to do it so it looks normal?
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540545_tn?1377626518
Ya let me know which type of insurance you have.  If you have DeltaCare (which is a HMO) you'll need to pick a provider inside your network..  If you have a DPO/PPO, then you are more free to go anywhere.

You have 32 teeth including your wisdom teeth.  

Gold is one type of material they can use.  There's also composites (white plastic), amalgam (metal alloy) and porcelain (white/clear glass).  Depending on how large the cavity is, you may need a "crown" or "cap" as they refer to it. You may also need a root canal.  It depends on how deep that cavity goes.

I know it isn't great to know going to a doctor you may receive bad news but its best to take care of things and be proactive about it.  As they say, focus on the solution, not on the problem,

Life span was a little shorter back then.  Also, processed food and sugar wasn't as easy to get so cavities were a little more rare at the time.  But I did hear from someone that tooth infections were the #1 killer in the past but I haven't found any actual research that states that.  But interesting none the less.  
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Avatar_m_tn
I have dental dental does that work?
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Avatar_m_tn
Delta dental*
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540545_tn?1377626518
Yep.  I believe that to be a PPO insurance which you can go anywhere you want.

Here's a friend of mine who owns her own practice in Brooklyn.  She'll give you an honest opinion of what you have going on.

https://www.************/SmilingVillageDentistry
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Avatar_m_tn
I would be glad to take care of you and address all of your dental concerns.
My practice is actually located in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Here is our email address: ***@****
We accept Delta PPO insurance and are open on Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon

Whenever you are ready feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for the referral Dr.Tsang!
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm ready to see a dentist to see if the tooth needs to pulled out.
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540545_tn?1377626518
Well, you should definitely go see Dr. Voraragsa and get it evaluated.  The sooner you address the issue, the better outcome it will have if it can be saved, which I hope it can be done.
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Avatar_m_tn
Alright I'll give it a shot, thanks for all your help
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Avatar_m_tn
All the contact info you've sent is censored out. Can you email me the info?
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540545_tn?1377626518
Did you receive it?
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