Your Oral Health

What is your Dental IQ?

Test your knowledge in the field of dentistry. You will find the answers at the bottom of this page.

1. How many teeth do adults have if none are extracted?


2. How many “baby” teeth should the average 4 year old have all together?


3. What has been the major single factor influencing the decline in tooth decay over the past 40 years?

fluoridated water
fluoridated tooth paste

4. The average set of complete dentures should last 7 – 10 years.


5. If a tooth and its root are totally knocked out, what can you store it in while finding a dentist immediately?

saline (salt water)
your mouth
all of the above

6. It is normal to get gum disease and lose teeth as we get older.


7. There is no age limit on getting braces to improve/correct your smile, bite, speech, and function.


8. Everyone should have an exam by a dentist at least every…

6 months
1 year
5 years
when it hurts

9. The most important aspect of brushing your teeth is…

tooth paste brand
technique and frequency
tooth brush brand
an automatic tooth brush

10. Dentists can also help treat the following problem(s)

halitosis (bad breath)
snoring and sleep apnea
headaches/TMJ problems
all of the above

Answers to Questions

c – 32
b – 20
a – fluoridated water
a – true
d – all of the above
b – false
a – true
b – 1 year
b – technique and frequency
d – all of the above

If You Missed:

0 = You’re a Dentist!
1-2 = Dental Einstein.
3-5 = You get the idea.
6-8 = Brush and Floss More.
9-10 = See a Dentist, NOW!

Explanations to Answers

1 – Adults have a total of 32 teeth if no teeth have been extracted. There are 16 teeth on the upper arch and 16 teeth on the lower arch, including the 4 third molars ( a.k.a. wisdom teeth). Third molars start trying grow in from approximately age 16 to 21. Not all third molars need to be removed, but complications can result if crowded-out third molars are not removed by the late teens or early 20’s.

2 – “Baby teeth” are called deciduous or primary teeth. All 20 of the deciduous teeth have usually grown into the mouth by the age of 2. So at the age of 4, a child will have 20 deciduous teeth. Around age 5½ the first permanent molars begin to grow into the mouth behind the last deciduous molars, resulting in a total of 24 teeth present in the mouth. The “mixed dentition phase” is when children have both deciduous and permanent teeth, which is approximately from age 5½ to 12.

3 – The benefits of fluoride in drinking water were initially discovered in the early 1900’s with the efforts Dr. F.S. McKay right here in Colorado Springs. Dr. McKay discovered that while high levels of fluoride in the local drinking water caused brown stains in the children’s developing teeth, the teeth were more resistant to decay. Later it was determined that a lower level of fluoride (1.0 parts per million) did not cause the brown stain but still made the teeth enamel more resistant to decay. The first public water fluoridation program was established in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. We now have dramatic international scientific evidence demonstrating the reduction of cavities by more than 50% in communities that have fluoridated water!

4 – The average set of dentures will last 7 to 10 years. However, patients who wear dentures should not assume that they do not need to see a dentist for 7 to 10 years, or when they need a new set! Denture wears should have yearly follow-up exams with their dentist to: 1) Check the health of extraoral and intraoral soft tissues, 2) Check bony tissues, 3) Clean and check the integrity of the denture materials, and 4) Check the fit of the dentures. Frequently, denture wearers need to have their dentures relined every 2 to 3 years to help “tighten” the fit of the dentures, because the supporting bone continues to slowly shrink with time after teeth have been extracted.

5 – For immediate transport to the dentist’s office a knocked-out tooth can be stored in solutions of cool saline (salt water), milk, saliva, or simply in the injured person’s mouth. The tooth can initially be rinsed with cool water to remove dirt or blood, then placed in the chosen solution. But do not scrub the tooth. There are important little ligaments on the root surfaces that need to remain attached to the tooth to allow for reattachment to the bone in the socket.

If you cannot get to the dentist or emergency room within one-half hour, rinse the tooth with cool water and place the tooth back in the socket as best you can. The sooner the tooth is placed back in the socket, the better the chance for the tooth to reattach to the bone. Place cool, moistened gauze or a wash cloth around the tooth to help immobilize the tooth and control swelling, then transport the injured person to the emergency room or the dentist’s office.

6 – It is a misconception that as we get older it is inevitable that we will get gum disease. Research has found that gum disease is not entirely a function of age, but more a result of poor lifestyle habits which have added-up over time. The primary factor in causing gum disease is poor oral hygiene (including lack of regular professional care) and smoking. Thirty per cent of all persons between the ages of 19 and 25 already show signs of gum disease. Gum disease actually starts at a young age and becomes evident as we get older, and more difficult to treat.

7 – Most orthodontic treatment is still rendered to patients during their adolescent years. But orthodontic treatment can be initiated at any age as long as the teeth are healthy, the gums and bones are healthy, and the oral hygiene care is optimum. The number of adults seeking orthodontic care increases every year. Many people think adults have their teeth straightened only out of vanity or for cosmetics. But great benefits can be realized for adults in chewing function, TMJ comfort and periodontal health from the proper alignment of their teeth.

8 – At minimum, everyone should see their dentist yearly. Yearly checkups are adequate for very small children, adults who have never had a cavity and have healthy gums, or individuals who wear complete upper and lower dentures. Discuss with your dentist what would be the best checkup schedule for you to maintain your optimum dental health. You may be one of the fortunate few who only needs a checkup and cleaning once a year!

However, the standard exam and dental cleaning schedule is every six months. Some people need to see their dentist more frequently for special problems. The six-month checkup schedule takes into consideration that most people: 1) develop some cavities with time, 2) collect plaque and tartar on their teeth which needs to be cleaned off, 3) most people need remotivation and encouragement to take better care of their teeth for optimum dental health, and 4) dental problems which are detected earlier are easier, less painful and cheaper to treat.

9 – Contrary to all the commercial hype, tooth paste brand, tooth brush brand, and automatic (electric) tooth brushes have less or little effect in comparison to improved brushing technique and frequency of brushing. For the best result when brushing your teeth, use a soft-bristled tooth brush. Only use a small dab of tooth paste on the brush. Brush in little circles and only brush two to three teeth at a time. Do not scrub back-and-forth. You should be able to feel the tooth brush bristles along the gum line; angle the tooth brush slightly toward the gums as you brush to make sure you get the teeth clean all the way to gum line. Brush all the surfaces of the teeth, not just the surfaces that are easy to reach. Pay particular attention to the inside surfaces of the teeth. Use an egg timer to make sure you brush for a minimum of 3 minutes. Research shows that the best result is achieved when brushing for 5 minutes. Brush at least twice a day, in the morning and before going to bed at night. (Don’t forget to floss!)

10 – Bad breath is most frequently caused by oral health problems, such as: dental decay, gum disease, ineffective oral hygiene habits, and bacterial collection on the tongue and tonsillar tissues. Dentists are familiar with the causes of bad breath and can help you with these problems. Dentists can also evaluate factors which may be contributing to snoring, sleep apnea, headaches and TMJ problems. Initially, discuss your concerns with your general dentist. Your regular dentist may choose to diagnose and treat the problem within their own office; or, they may refer you to a specialist for treatment.