Self -Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 6

Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering these questions. Write your answers in your Study Diary and discuss them with your Tutor at the next Study Support Meeting. You can check your answers with the Notes on the Self-Assessment Questions at the end of this Module.

SAQ 6.1 (Learning Outcomes 6.1 and 6.2)

Which of the following statement is false? In each case, explain why it is incorrect.

A  The structures of the oral cavity enable us to speak, chew and swallow.

B  Humans normally produce two sets of 32 teeth.

C  The mouth is the entrance to the digestive and respiratory systems.

D  The palate is the floor of the oral cavity.

E  Saliva helps to keep the mouth clean.

F  Teeth are dead structures made from enamel and bone.


A is true. The structures of the oral cavity enable us to speak, chew and swallow.

B is false. Humans do normally produce two sets, but only the second (permanent) set has 32 teeth. The first set (milk or baby teeth) has only 20 teeth.

C is true. The mouth is the entrance to the digestive and respiratory systems.

D is false. The palate is the roof of the oral cavity (not the floor).

E is true. Saliva helps to keep the mouth clean.

F is false. Teeth are living structures with dentine, pulp and blood vessels inside them; only the upper surface of a tooth is covered with hard dead enamel.

SAQ 6.2 (tests Learning Outcomes 6.1, 6.3 and 6.4)

  • a.What is plaque and what conditions promote its formation on our teeth?
  • b.What are the consequences of plaque forming on the teeth?
  • c.What can be done to prevent it?


  • a.Plaque is a sticky bacterial growth around the teeth. The conditions that promote its formation are high-sugar high-fat diets and poor oral hygiene.
  • b.Plaque destroys the tooth enamel by producing acids which allow decay to penetrate the teeth. If plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar, which causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. Plaque, tartar and gum disease increase the risk of tooth loss through decay.
  • c.Reducing the amount of sugars and fats in the diet, and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables, helps to reduce the development of plaque. Regular brushing and flossing of the teeth also removes plaque and promotes oral health.

SAQ 6.3 (tests Learning Outcomes 6.1 and 6.3)

Habtamu was born and grew up in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia. He is now ten years old and his teeth are yellowish in colour. His friends say he has natural ‘gold’ teeth, but most of them also have yellow or brown patches on their teeth.

  • a.Why are Habtamu’s teeth yellow? What is this condition called?
  • b.What problems could result from it in the future?


  • a.Habtamu probably has yellow teeth because he has been drinking water containing a high concentration of fluorides all his life. His friends also have yellow teeth. This condition is called fluorosis.
  • b.Fluorosis leads to weakening of the teeth, which are likely to develop ‘pits’ (holes) and cracks where decay can get in. Habtamu will probably suffer from a lot of tooth decay, and broken or lost teeth.

SAQ 6.4 (tests Learning Outcomes 6.1, 6.2 and 6.4)

Imagine that you are invited to talk about promoting oral health in a primary school in your village. After the lesson, you ask the students to make a poster with the most important messages about oral health. What messages would you expect to see on the poster made by the children?


The messages you would expect to see on the school poster should include:

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, especially after meals.
  • Use traditional tooth sticks or a soft bristle toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink milk. It contains calcium to build strong teeth and bones.
  • When you grow up, don’t smoke or chew tobacco, or chew khat, or drink alcohol.

Summary of Study Session 6