Quiz: Do You Know Your Floss?

Estimated Completion Time
3 min
Quiz: Do You Know Your Floss?
Image: Nicholas Eveleigh/Iconica/Getty Images

About This Quiz

You know you should floss at least once a day to keep your smile healthy. But how much do you really know about this simple, effective tool? Take this quiz to test your flossing knowledge and know-how.
How much floss is produced each year?
3 million feet (914,400 meters)
3 million yards (2,743,200 meters)
3 million miles (4,828,032 kilometers)
Textile and health care product companies that produce dental floss spin out and sell an estimated 3 million miles (4,828,032 kilometers) of floss each year. That's nearly enough to stretch from the Earth to the moon and back six times.

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What is floss made from?
cotton thread
nylon and other synthetic fibers
Floss is often made from nylon or other synthetic fibers. Many manufacturers wax these fibers, or coat them with Teflon or other nonstick coatings so the floss will slide between teeth and gums with less effort.
silk thread

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What was the first commercially produced floss made from?
flax
silk
The first commercially produced floss was made from silk. Manufacturers continued to use silk for floss until the 1940s, when nylon and other synthetic fibers came into common use due to technological advances and the rationing of silk during World War II.
cotton

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Who first used floss?
Medieval traders learned about it during travels to the Far East.
An American dentist developed it in the early 1800s.
Native Americans spun floss from yucca plant fibers.
Dentist Levy Spear Parmly invented modern floss in the early 1800s, but reports suggest that Native Americans made floss from fibers of the yucca plant long before that time.

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Are there alternatives to floss?
Good brushing technique can do what flossing does.
Dental picks and intradental brushes can provide some of flossing's benefits.
For people who find flossing uncomfortable or difficult to properly perform, dental picks and intradental cleaning brushes can provide some of flossing's benefits. These tools are often less effective and more expensive, though.
Mouthwash can clean between teeth and gums just like floss.

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Can good dental care save you money?
No: The cost of dental checkups is equal to what you'd spend on emergency dental care.
Flossing and brushing every day can eliminate the need for dental checkups.
Yes: Between reduced dental care costs and the prevention of systemic disease, dental care can save you significant amounts of money.
According to some estimates, regular preventive dental care (checkups and cleanings) can reduce overall dental care costs by as much as a factor of 10. And since oral health is linked to systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, dental care is an investment that can pay for itself many times over.

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What does it mean when a box of floss is labeled "ADA-approved"?
The ADA has tested the floss and confirmed that it meets its effectiveness and safety standards.
The American Dental Association conducts independent, scientifically rigorous tests to evaluate dental care products. Its seal of approval on a package of floss means that the ADA tested a sample of the floss and found that it did a satisfactory job of cleaning the teeth, and that it should be safe for typical consumers to use.
The ADA produced the floss.
The ADA is a trade organization made up of product manufacturers; it does not test products.

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How much floss should you use in one session?
a piece equal in length to your forearm
one 2-foot (61-centimeter) piece per jaw
one 18-inch (46-centimeter) piece
The ADA recommends using one 18-inch piece of floss during a cleaning session. Wrap the ends around your fingertips to gain solid control as you clean.

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How often should you floss?
once a day
The ADA recommends flossing once a day, although some people find it easier to get into the habit of flossing every time they brush.
twice a day
after every meal

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Can you reuse floss?
Yes, if you rinse it in mouthwash between uses.
No: Floss frays and collects bacteria after one use.
Floss frays as you move it between your teeth, and can collect bacteria. It can't be cleaned or repaired, so consider it a one-time-use product.
Yes: If you wipe the floss after use and set it in a dry place, you can use it multiple times.

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What are the symptoms of gingivitis?
inflammation and pustules forming around the teeth
inflammation, bleeding and pain in the gums
inflammation and bleeding of the gums
While gingivitis commonly appears as inflammation and bleeding in the gums, it isn't always painful. If you notice redness or bleeding when you brush and floss, but it doesn't hurt, you should still contact your dentist.

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What causes plaque buildup?
Plaque buildup occurs when bacteria feed on food remnants on the teeth and gums.
Plaque is formed when bacteria in the mouth digest sugars from food remnants on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce plaque, a sticky, gel-like substance that can harden and become tartar.
Plaque is made up of collected food remnants in the mouth.
Plaque buildup is a genetic problem that only occurs in some people's mouths.

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What can happen if gingivitis is left untreated?
Gingivitis can lead to severe gum disease and tooth loss if left untreated.
While gingivitis is often not painful, and can be easily reversed with good oral care, it can lead to severe gum and tooth disease if left untreated.
Gingivitis can be uncomfortable, but it's more of an annoyance than a real health problem.
Gingivitis is a temporary problem that will clear up on its own over time.

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Are certain people at higher risk for oral disease?
People of Asian and African descent have lower risks for oral disease.
People of South American and Native American descent have lower risks for oral disease.
Genetic issues and lack of access to dental care are the primary risk factors in oral disease.
Certain people may be more genetically predisposed to dental problems, but the biggest risk factor for dental problems comes from lack of access to good dental care.

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Can pregnancy affect oral health?
Hormonal changes in a pregnant woman's body can affect her oral health.
The hormonal changes that take place in a pregnant woman's body can affect her entire system, including her susceptibility to tooth and gum problems.
Pregnant women do not have higher or lower risks for tooth or gum disease.
Men, not women, have higher risks for tooth and gum disease.

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What genetic factors play a role in oral health?
Genetics have nothing to do with oral health.
A genetic predisposition to fair skin can indicate sensitivity to tooth problems.
Genetic predisposition to soft tooth enamel and crooked teeth can affect oral health.
Genetic traits such as softer-than-normal tooth enamel or a propensity for teeth to grow in crookedly can affect a person's oral health.

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Can gum disease affect diabetes?
There is no connection between diabetes and oral health.
People with poor oral health have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Studies have shown that people with poor oral health are at a statistically higher risk of developing Type II diabetes. Research is still underway to determine how illness in the mouth can affect the endocrine system.
People with poor oral health have a lower-than-average risk of developing diabetes.

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Is oral disease linked to heart disease?
Several studies have suggested a link between oral disease and heart disease.
While the possible mechanisms (such as poor diet and overall health) that could tie heart disease to oral health are somewhat unclear, researchers have repeatedly found an apparent link between poor oral health and the possibility of heart disease.
There is no connection between oral disease and heart disease.
Oral disease is linked to nervous system disorders, not heart disease.

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What is tartar?
Tartar is the leftover food that gets stuck between teeth.
Tartar is an accretion of bone around the base of unhealthy teeth.
Tartar is an accretion of hardened plaque that forms around the teeth and gums.
Tartar is formed when plaque hardens on the teeth and gums. This hard substance builds up in layers, and can cause problems in the teeth and gums if left untreated.

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How is tartar removed?
The dentist can remove tartar with a metal scraping tool called a scaler.
While brushing and flossing can help prevent tartar from building up in the mouth, established tartar is best removed by a dental professional, who will scrape it off of the teeth and gums.
Brushing can remove built up tartar.
Flossing can remove built up tartar.

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