Take the Toothpaste Quiz

Find out how you score in your knowledge about a product you use daily. The correct answers are listed below.

True or False?

  1. All toothpaste brands use the same ingredients.
  2. All toothpastes are more effective after a professional dental cleaning.
  3. All forms of toothpaste (gels, powders, pastes) are okay as long as the brand contains fluoride.
  4. Children should use the same brand of toothpaste as adults.
  5. Parents should be brushing their child's teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride when the child is two.
  6. How you brush is more important than the toothpaste you use.

Answers

  1. FALSE. Toothpaste ingredients can differ significantly from brand to brand, and each ingredient performs a different function. Ask your dentist which toothpaste he or she recommends; if you don't have time to consult a dentist before buying, look for a brand that contains fluoride, which makes teeth less susceptible to decay.
  2. TRUE. A professional dental cleaning allows the toothpaste ingredients to make contact with a clean tooth surface, which makes brushing more effective.
  3. TRUE. As long as your toothpaste contains fluoride, it doesn't matter if it is in paste, gel or powder form, or if it contains flavoring. The important point is that the toothpaste contains fluoride, which prevents tooth decay. (Please note, however, that powder toothpaste can be abrasive; check with your dentist before using toothpaste in a powder form.)
  4. FALSE. The American Dental Association advises parents to have children use toothpaste that contains fluoride. However, too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition that can stain, or even affect the formation of, permanent teeth. Very young children often swallow toothpaste; they also receive fluoride in sources other than toothpaste, including drinking water, formula and juice. To prevent children from developing fluorosis, adults should buy toothpaste specially designed for children, particularly those under four years of age, and supervise them when they brush their teeth. Encourage toddlers to spit out toothpaste and rinse after brushing, especially if they're using toothpaste with flavoring agents (which young children may decide is edible). If, at any time, you're considering giving a child toothpaste or any other dental health product (such as mouthwash) that is not specifically designed for children, be sure to consult your dentist first.
  5. TRUE. Toothpaste with fluoride may also be used earlier, if the child's physician or dentist recommends it.
  6. FALSE. Both the toothpaste and correct brushing work together to remove plaque. Here's one way to correctly clean your teeth (unless recommended otherwise by your dentist): Put a pea-sized dab of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush and, using gentle pressure, brush at a 45-degree angle, inside, outside and between the teeth, in small circular motions.
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