Children's Health and Wellness

Brushing Up on Healthy Teeth

Keeping your teeth healthy sounds simple: Brush and floss after every meal and see your dentist twice a year. The trouble is, simple as that sounds, you may need to know more. It's not that dental health is hard; it's easy. But give this true-false quiz a try to see just how much you know about keeping your teeth their brightest, whitest, and healthiest.

1. You must brush and floss your teeth after every meal to prevent gum disease and cavities.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is Although it can't hurt, brushing after every meal is not absolutely necessary. Once a day would be enough if you took the time—five to 10 minutes—to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth. But most people don't have the time or the inclination to spend that much time. So a good rule of thumb, say the experts, is to brush twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste and floss thoroughly once a day. Brushing and flossing before bed, in particular, removes leftover food and debris that enable bacteria to multiply in the humid confines of your mouth at night, when your flow of saliva is at its lowest. A. True B. False 2. Brushing your teeth with an up-and-down or side-to-side motion cleans your teeth most effectively.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is A somewhat circular pattern, known as the Bass Technique, has been shown to remove plaque most effectively. This is because it picks up the material and sweeps it out. The other methods simply move the material and push it against other surfaces. You should hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line to clean your tooth surfaces and allow the bristles to reach just beneath the gum line. A. True B. False 3. You can floss your teeth by simply placing the floss between your teeth and pulling it through.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is Proper flossing consists of placing the floss tightly against the side of each tooth and sliding it up to the top edge and back down under the gum line. You'll miss a lot of plaque if you just slide the floss in and pull it through. Also, there are different kinds of floss—tape, regular and fine, waxed and unwaxed, as well as a variety of flavors—to make it easier to floss between dental work and tight spaces.A. True B. False 4. Toothbrushes with angled heads and bilevel bristles are better than those with straight handles and unilevel bristles.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is It all depends. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to toothbrushes. The best brush for you depends on your dental health history and the problem areas in your mouth. It also depends on the spaces between your teeth, your manual dexterity, and even how big your mouth is. Check with your dentist if you have questions about what type of toothbrush to use. In any case use a brush with soft bristles, say the experts.A. True B. False 5. Motorized toothbrushes clean your teeth better than manual brushes.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is It depends. Unless you're physically unable to manipulate a toothbrush and don't take time to brush thoroughly, chances are a motorized toothbrush, which can cost as much as $100, won't make much difference. Cleaning your teeth is usually a function of brushing technique rather than of the equipment you use. But if you have arthritis or other conditions that limit your movement, motorized brushes can help your brushing efficiency.A. True B. False 6. Brushing too much can cause your gums to recede.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is No documented evidence shows this is true. Some experts say using the wrong brushing technique can lead to gum recession and tooth abrasion.A. True B. False 7. Along with brushing and flossing, use a dental rinse to remove plaque.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is Dental rinses that purport to remove extra plaque have not been scientifically proved to do so. But those that contain fluoride can help prevent cavities and freshen your breath. Fluoride, which is the only substance proved to prevent tooth decay, strengthens tooth enamel. Prescription mouth rinses are effective in reducing certain bacteria in plaque. These are typically antimicrobial and include chemicals such as chlorhexidine gluconate.A. True B. False 8. Toothpastes that contain baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can help reduce plaque acids that are the byproducts of plaque bacteria.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is This is actually true. Baking soda neutralizes acids in the plaque. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide combine with saliva to produce oxygen, which kills the plaque bacteria. Similarly, certain toothpastes can help reduce or eliminate stains. These generally work only on stains caused by cigarette smoke, coffee, and tea, which are usually confined to the outer surface of teeth. Deeper stains, such as those caused by some medications or medical conditions, require more extensive treatment that only your dentist can provide.A. True B. False 9. You should see your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is It depends. If you're healthy, two times a year is a good starting point. But if you have a history of gum disease, if you smoke, or if you have a systemic disease such as diabetes, you should probably see your dentist more often because these can aggravate gum disease. Also, certain medications pose a higher risk for gum disease and cavities because they reduce the flow of saliva. On the other hand, people with excellent hygiene, good nutrition, and little or no history of dental disease may not need to be seen so often.A. True B. False 10. If your parents lost all their teeth to tooth decay or gum disease, you will, too.You didn't answer this question.You answered The correct answer is Absolutely false. Dental disease is one of the few diseases in the world that can be totally prevented and cured. All it requires is taking the time to brush and floss your teeth properly, avoid snacking on sugary or starchy foods, and see your dentist regularly for examinations, teeth cleaning, and guidance.A. True B. False Your score was:
Print Source: Clinical Protocols for Caries Management by Risk Assessment. Jenson, L. California Dental Association Journal. 2007; 25; 10:714-23.
Print Source: Created for Wellness Library
Online Source: American Dental Associationhttp://www.ada.org/sections/scienceandresearch/pdfs/patient_20.pdf
Online Source: American Dental Associationhttp://www.ada.org/sections/scienceandresearch/pdfs/patient_78.pdf
Online Source: American Dental Associationhttp://www.ada.org/sections/scienceandresearch/pdfs/patient_82.pdf
Online Source: Brushing Your Teeth, American Dental Associationhttp://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth.aspx
Online Source: Flossing, American Dental Associationhttp://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing.aspx
Online Source: Gum Disease, American Dental Associationhttp://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/g/gum-disease.aspx
Author: Sinovic, Dianna
Online Editor: Sinovic, Dianna
Online Medical Reviewer: Eakle, W. Stephan DDS
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/7/2013