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Quiz: The germs in your mouth

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The number of bacteria in your mouth is closest to the population of which of the following?

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The number of bacteria in your mouth is closest to the population of which of the following?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

A typical human mouth contains billions of bacteria. If you haven't brushed your teeth lately, you might well have more bacteria in your mouth right now than there are people living on planet Earth. Scientists have identified more than 700 different species of mouth-dwelling microbes.

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A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's.

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A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

There's no basis for the claim that a dog's mouth is "cleaner" than a human's. Both humans and dogs have mouths that are full of bacteria, and both contain roughly the same number of bacteria. There are more than 100 different germs in dog (and cat) saliva that can make you unwell.

If you drop food on the floor, it won’t collect germs if you pick it up within five seconds.

If you drop food on the floor, it won’t collect germs if you pick it up within five seconds.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

While it’s true that the longer food is on the floor, the more germs it will pick up, the 'five-second rule' is arbitrary. Food starts to pick up germs from the moment it hits the floor. You’re better off throwing it away and eating something else.

Anyone who kisses someone with gum disease will always get it.

Anyone who kisses someone with gum disease will always get it.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Periodontal disease is not contagious. While bacteria that lead to gum disease can pass through saliva, gum disease typically develops if your teeth and gums aren't healthy. If your mouth is not healthy, you increase your risk through repeated and prolonged exposure to someone with periodontal disease. The British Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. Antibacterial mouthwash can also help reduce plaque-causing bacteria that may cause an early, mild form of gum disease called gingivitis.

If you find yourself without a toothbrush, it's a good idea to borrow a friend's.

If you find yourself without a toothbrush, it's a good idea to borrow a friend's.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

You should never share a toothbrush with someone else. Oral experts warn that this practice can involve the exchange of body fluids, putting sharers at an increased risk of infections.

Which of the following items can transfer potentially dangerous microbes between people?

Which of the following items can transfer potentially dangerous microbes between people?

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Studies have shown that germs may be present on lipstick (including “tester” lipstick at cosmetics counters), lip balm, drinking glasses, wind instruments and many other items that may be shared.

Don't share such personal items if you want to avoid picking up potentially harmful bacteria, viruses or other microbes.

To protect your toothbrush from harmful germs, you should:

To protect your toothbrush from harmful germs, you should:

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Dental experts recommend rinsing your toothbrush with tap water after you use it, then leaving it out to dry. Keeping it in a closed container creates an ideal moist environment for the growth of bacteria. Using a dishwasher or a microwave can damage your toothbrush.

The British Dental Health Foundation suggests similar handling for retainers or dentures, although additional disinfection with a denture cleaner or ultrasonic cleaner may be recommended. Ask your dentist about the proper way to care for any particular dental devices that you may be using.

To avoid the build-up of bacteria, the NHS recommends replacing your toothbrush every month.

To avoid the build-up of bacteria, the NHS recommends replacing your toothbrush every month.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The NHS recommends replacing your toothbrush or electric brush attachment every three months -- or sooner if the bristles are frayed. The main reason for replacement is to make sure your toothbrush is in good working order -- not because of bacteria.

Antiseptic mouthwashes can kill the germs that cause bad breath.

Antiseptic mouthwashes can kill the germs that cause bad breath.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

The British Medical Association says certain mouthwashes contain chemicals that kill bacteria and there’s good evidence that they work. Some studies suggest bad breath can improve after using an antibacterial mouthwash for two to four weeks. There is some benefit from one-time use but it only usually lasts a few hours.

Of course, bad breath can be caused by other things, such as eating garlic and other fragrant foods, as well as poor dental hygiene. Certain medical conditions also can cause bad breath. In these cases, a mouth rinse may help mask your bad breath, but it won't address the cause of it.

Drinking green tea may help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Drinking green tea may help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Research published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention suggested that green tea is associated with healthier gums and lower chances of tooth loss, but more research is needed.

All bacteria are bad for the health of your teeth and gums.

All bacteria are bad for the health of your teeth and gums.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

While some bacteria are bad for your teeth and gums, others are critical to keeping them healthy. In fact, some helpful organisms in your mouth secrete substances that kill bad bacteria. Researchers are exploring a potential new kind of toothpaste based on a mouth bacterium that creates enzymes that prevent plaque formation.

Most of the bacteria in your mouth live in plaque.

Most of the bacteria in your mouth live in plaque.

  • Your Answer:
  • Correct Answer:

Most of the bacteria in your mouth are part of a sticky film on your teeth known as plaque, which is the main cause of tooth decay. A single tooth can host 500 million bacteria. This is, of course, why you brush, floss and rinse your teeth.

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Your Score:   You correctly answered   out of   questions.
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Good work! You know how to deal with those germs in your mouth.

Not bad, but you can do better. Brush up on the germs in your mouth and try the quiz again.

Keep trying. Brush up on the germs in your mouth and take the quiz again.

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