You already know that brushing your teeth twice a day is considered the best dental hygiene practice. But did you know you should skip rinsing your mouth after? I used to rinse thoroughly after brushing my teeth to remove any remnants of toothpaste left in my mouth. But this method isn’t the best and I only found out last year while scrolling through TikTok.
Instead, I now spit out as much toothpaste as I can without swishing with water so I can allow the toothpaste to do its work just a little longer. However, I wasn’t sure why I was doing this — or what the benefits were — until I spoke with an expert.
I talked to Dr. Edmond Hewlett, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association and professor at UCLA School of Dentistry, to find out why you shouldn’t rinse your mouth with water after brushing your teeth. Here’s the answer.
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Fluoride is an important ingredient in toothpaste that helps make the enamel harder and more resistant to acids that cause cavities. Hewlett says it’s the most well-established effective ingredient in toothpaste, so make sure yours has fluoride in it.
When you brush your teeth, you’re cleaning any film and bacteria from food and sugary drinks. When you go a step further and skip rinsing, you’re leaving the fluoride from the toothpaste in your mouth for a longer time, giving you a better effect from the fluoride.
Wait at least 15 minutes after brushing to drink water. After brushing your teeth, Hewlett explains, your saliva will clear the toothpaste out so you won’t taste it all day.
If you’re just finding out about this tip, you may be thinking you’ve been undoing all your hard work of brushing every day. But that’s not true. Hewlett says as long as you brush the standard two times a day for two minutes each time, the fluoride will remain in your mouth to help protect your teeth.
You’re still doing what you need to do to have good oral health to protect your teeth. The idea of not rinsing is just an extra step to help the fluoride be even more effective.
“When you measure a person’s fluoride levels in saliva, if they don’t rinse, there’s more fluoride,” Hewlett said. But it’s not going to be a waste of your time if you do rinse. He said research is still being done to determine the difference it makes in the long term to prevent cavities.
Check that your toothpaste contains fluoride.
There are different risk levels for getting cavities per person, Hewlett said.
“If you typically don’t get cavities, then you should continue using fluoride toothpaste. The decision to rinse or not to rinse after brushing probably won’t make a difference.”
On the other hand, for those who struggle with cavities, not rinsing is probably a better decision. Additionally, you should get help from your dentist to find out why you’re getting cavities regularly — for instance, it could be your eating habits, snacking on sugary foods or not brushing your teeth regularly. If you’re at higher risk for cavities, you should do everything you can to help prevent them.
It’s OK as long as you use a mouthwash that also contains fluoride so you can still get the same effect. Otherwise, without fluoride, it’s similar to rinsing with water.
Here are some additional tips for keeping your oral health up to par.
For more, here’s the best time to brush your teeth in the morning.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.