Oral Exam: How Much Do You Know About Dental Health?

There’s more to a pretty smile (and healthy mouth) than a twice-daily scrub with a toothbrush

Deborah Skolnik Health June 26, 2015

family brushing teeth

How can you best protect your family's pearly whites? Brush up on your dental knowledge and keep those cavities away.

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teeth xray fillings

Question 1 of 11 Score: 0

How long does the average amalgam (silver-colored) filling last?

When the side of a filling no longer fits snugly against the tooth, saliva and debris can seep inside. This is called leakage, and it can lead to discoloration, sensitivity or even more decay. The best way to prevent this: Get regular checkups so your dentist can keep tabs on your fillings.

empty plate cropped

Question 2 of 11 Score: 0

Which of these should you eat after a meal to help protect your teeth?

Cheese is rich in calcium and phosphates and beneficial to teeth in several ways. It encourages the production of saliva, which helps to rinse food particles and plaque from teeth and contains substances that help to neutralize acids caused by bacteria. All it takes is a small cube after you eat.

jelly beans

Question 3 of 11 Score: 0

True or false: As you age, you become less cavity-prone.

Although the risk of cavities is high for children and teens, older adults are also prone to cavities, especially around the tooth roots. That's because with time, teeth wear down and gums can recede, making it easier for bacteria to do its dirty work.

dentist with tools

Question 4 of 11 Score: 0

How can you tell if you have a cavity?

Only a dental professional can tell if you have a cavity. Cavities can form beneath the surface of your teeth, where you can’t spot them, or be too small for you to see. And some symptoms that may seem to be cavity related actually may be caused by something else, such as a tooth fracture, sensitive teeth, arthritis or tooth grinding.

bathroom sink

Question 5 of 11 Score: 0

What’s the best way to store your toothbrush?

After you brush, rinse your toothbrush and place it upright to air-dry. A dry brush will breed less bacteria. If you can, keep your brush in a separate holder from other brushes and as far away from the toilet as possible so it doesn’t become contaminated by bacteria-laden spray after someone flushes.

baby open mouth

Question 6 of 11 Score: 0

When should a child have his first dental check-up?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends kids visit the dentist within 6 months of sprouting that first pearly white (usually around 6 months) or by age 1. Don’t wait that long to start caring for your tyke’s teeth though: Starting when he’s around 3 months old, use a clean strip of gauze or a washcloth to wipe his gums and tongue after feedings.

elderly man brushes teeth crooped

Question 7 of 11 Score: 0

Which of these conditions make you more prone to tooth decay?

The lack of saliva in a dry mouth can leave teeth prone to cavities. (Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications, such as antihistamines or painkillers, or health conditions, including nerve damage and HIV.) So can heartburn, thanks to the back-flow of stomach acids into the mouth, where they can damage tooth enamel.

cigarette smoke

Question 8 of 11 Score: 0

Smokers are ___ as likely to develop gum disease as nonsmokers are.

Smoking doubles the risk for gum disease with a one-two punch: It impairs the immune system’s ability to fight the infection, then makes it harder for your gums to heal. (Time to kick the habit.)

dog long tongue

Question 9 of 11 Score: 0

How often should you brush your tongue?

Brushing sweeps away bacteria, food and dead cells, freshens breath and improves digestion by boosting saliva production. It even can make food taste better by cleaning off taste buds. To use a tongue scraper, stick out your tongue a little and open wide. Holding the scraper by its two ends, position it at the back of your tongue and run it gently over your tongue.

toothache woman

Question 10 of 11 Score: 0

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by:

Other sources of sensitivity include bleaching and worn-out fillings. If your teeth are sensitive, see your dentist; he can help pinpoint the cause and recommend treatment options, such a toothpaste for sensitive teeth or another desensitizing agent.

color toothbrushes

Question 11 of 11 Score: 0

How often should you replace your toothbrush?

It's also a good idea to trade in your toothbrush after you've been sick or if you notice the bristles have become frayed. And, of course, if you accidentally drop it in the toilet.

family brushing teeth

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