Should you rinse after brushing teeth?
Strangely enough, there is a lot of confusion around whether or not you should rinse your mouth immediately after your are done brushing your teeth, or whether it is better for your oral health if you wait a little while before rinsing.
In this article, we aim to give you a clear and practical answer that you can put into practice in your daily oral health routine straight away – so without further ado, let us get down to business.
This is the best oral care routine if you want to strengten your enamel and avoid tooth decay
Surprisingly, many adults are still unclear on what their daily oral care routine should look like, so before it makes sense to talk about whether or not you should rinse your mouth right after brushing your teeth, it is important to cover a few basics first.
Start with dental floss or interdental brushes
Before you brush your teeth, use floss or interdental brushes to lift and loosen any food particles and hardened plaque that may have gotten stuck or built up between your teeth, as well as between your teeth and your gum line.
Dental floss enables you to reach places in your mouth that the bristles of your brush simply cannot. And if you find that your teeth are too tight together for you to fit a piece of floss between them, use interdental brushes instead.
Always use fluoridated toothpaste
Using fluoridated toothpaste is key if you want to protect and strengthen your tooth enamel, as well as your overall dental health.
Fluoride is an amazing mineral with the ability not only to deep teeth clean, but to help remineralise and strengthen them. This is vitally important, as dental decay is only able to occur when your teeth’s enamel has become compromised, typically through everyday wear and tear.
Trace amounts of fluoride are found naturally in some of the foods that you eat on a daily basis, and in most places it’s also added to the drinking water and oral health products. However, fluoride has the greatest impact on your teeth when it is applied to them directly.
The ideal toothpaste to use is one that contains concentrated fluoride as the main active ingredient. Baking soda is another effective ingredient that provides a thorough clean and is tremendously beneficial for better oral health.
Use a soft-bristled electric toothbrush
While we are on the topic of which implements to use for toothbrushing, it is recommend that you use a soft-bristled toothbrush as opposed to one with harder bristles. A lot of people mistakenly think that hard-bristled brushes are more effective, but they can wear down your teeth’s enamel and even leave abrasions on the teeth.
Instead of using a manual toothbrush, it is also better to use an electric one whenever possible.
Apply light pressure and use small circular motions
Just as important as using the right itools is using the proper technique.
Brushing your teeth the right way is important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums in the long run. Many don’t know this, but brushing your teeth incorrectly can actually harm them, usually through wearing down and weakening the enamel.
The best way to brush your teeth is by moving your toothbrush in small and tight circular motions while applying light pressure. It is easy to be too forceful when you want to clean your teeth thoroughly, but pressing hard can easily erode the enamel and do more harm than good.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day, for two minutes each time. Make sure that you brush all of your teeth, and that you brush all three sides of the teeth, meaning the fronts, the backs, and the chewing surfaces.
Should you use mouthwash?
Using a mouthwash that prevents dental decay can help prevent tooth decay, but don’t use mouthwash (even a fluoridated one) straight after brushing.
Rinsing with mouthwash right away can wash away the highly concentrated fluoride contained in the toothpaste.
Instead, it may be a better idea to use mouthwash at a different time than after toothbrushing, for example after lunch.
It’s best to not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash.
Let the excess toothpaste sit for 30 minutes
If you rinse your moth immediately after brushing your teeth, you are also washing away any lingering fluoride.
The fluoride in your toothpaste plays an important role in both cleaning and strengthening your teeth, so the more and the lower exposure your teeth have to the fluoride toothpaste you are using when you brush your teeth, the better.
This is why you shouldn’t rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash immediately after brushing – because you want the remaining fluoride to work its magic on your teeth for longer.
Ideally, you should wait thirty minutes between brushing and rinsing your mouth.
Pros and cons of rinsing after brushing
Is there more than one angle from which to view the question of whether or not to rinse your moth after brushing your teeth?
Absolutely. So let’s quickly tally up the pros and the cons of rinsing after brushing, so that you’re better equipped to decide for yourself if it is time to make a change to your routine.
On the pro side is the fact that leaving the remaining toothpaste on your teeth for longer is the way to go when the goal is cleaner and healthier teeth.
If your teeth are particularly sensitive or prone to chipping, cracking or decay, strengthening your enamel has to be a priority.
On the other hand, leaving the toothpaste in can feel uncomfortable and the taste of fluoride in your mouth might bother you. Besides, if you have a lot of excess toothpaste left over after brushing and you end up swallowing it, it could result in an upset stomach.
The best approach might be to find some kind of balance. You could for example spit out any excess toothpaste once you are done brushing, but resist the urge to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash immediately.
Takeaway: Why there is no rush to rinse leftover fluoride toothpaste from your teeth
Many experts, including the U.K.’s Oral Health Foundation, recommend only spitting out any excess toothpaste after you’re done brushing instead of rinsing with water or mouthwash.
Rinsing your mouth with fresh water immediately after brushing might be an instinctual habit, but unfortunately, when you rinse immediately after brushing, you’re not only getting rid of the fluoride taste but also much of the benefit of applying fluoride to your teeth.
The best approach is to leave the fluoride on your teeth instead of rinsing it off, particularly if you know that your teeth are prone to cavities, chipping, cracking or breaking.
Having said that, you will have to find a balance that works for you in your everyday life. It may not be realistic for everyone to endure the taste and feeling of fluoride toothpaste long after you are done brushing, but if you are one of the people who really can’t stand it, leaving the toothpaste in for just a little bit longer than you normally could still make a difference – see, an improvement – to your oral health in the grand scheme of things.
If you would like to learn even more about how to improve your daily oral hygiene routine, we recommend reading these articles next: Should You Use Mouthwash Before Or After Brushing? and Should You Floss Before Or After Brushing?