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Woman brushing her teeth and holding a cup of water in front of a bathroom mirror.Woman brushing her teeth and holding a cup of water in front of a bathroom mirror.

Should You Rinse After Brushing Your Teeth? Answering Dental Care FAQs

By: BeSeen Team

Date: February 23, 2024

Brush, spit, rinse. It’s the three-step routine you’ve followed when brushing your teeth for decades. However, social media is now abuzz with #dontrinse rebels, challenging the age-old dental regimen. So, should you rinse after brushing your teeth? Get the answer to this and other oral care queries straight from the pros. Brace yourself for insights that might just revolutionise your toothbrushing game! 

#1: Are You Supposed to Rinse After Brushing Teeth? 

Close-up of woman’s hand putting toothpaste on her toothbrush.
The type of toothpaste you use might lead you the answer.

Think of why you rinse in the first place. It’s natural to want to spit and rinse out a minty froth from your mouth after brushing to get all that gunk out. However, experts say that spitting alone is sufficient. 

The Australian Dental Association advises, “After brushing, spit out the toothpaste foam but do not rinse your mouth with water. Not rinsing your mouth allows a layer of the fluoride toothpaste to sit on the teeth for longer, increasing protection.”

You may wonder, what happens if you don’t rinse after brushing? Dr Edmond Hewlett, advisor for the American Dental Association and a professor at UCLA School of Dentistry, shares his two cents:

“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.”

Fluoride is a crucial element in dental care. Besides preventing cavities, it helps strengthen dental enamel and reduces the bacteria-produced acid on your teeth.

Ultimately, reconsidering rinsing is about maximising the effects of fluoride on your teeth. By not washing it away immediately, you’re allowing this tooth decay-busting active ingredient to work a little longer.

#2: How Long Should You Wait to Rinse After Brushing? 

If you’re worried about swirling around toothpaste in your mouth all day, fret not. Dr Hewlett explains that your saliva will clear it out eventually. Not ready to cut your brushing routine short that quickly? Do what’s comfortable for you! Should you choose to retain your rinsing practice, Dr Hewlett advises you to wait at least 15 minutes before washing your teeth (or drinking water!).

#3: Should You Brush Before or After Breakfast? 

Woman having breakfast in bed.
Don’t be so quick to clean your teeth! After breakfast, wait at least one hour before brushing teeth.

Experts lean into brushing before breakfast – or specifically, right upon waking. Dr Apoena de Aguiar Ribeiro, a paediatric dentist and microbiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shares with The New York Times that bacterial levels are at their peak upon rising from bed.

If you skip brushing and proceed to consume a breakfast high in sugary carbs (pancakes, waffles, toast, etc.), you’re creating an environment for bacteria to flourish. “When this happens, they release acids that can wear down the protective enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to cavities,” Dr de Aguiar Ribeiro explains.

However, if you’re conscious of your breath or stains after breakfast and still want to brush before heading out, you still can. Just take precautions to safeguard your morning smile. The American Dental Association recommends waiting an hour after eating before toothbrushing, so consider this in your schedule.

#4: Can Hard-Bristled Brushes Clean Teeth Better?  

Not exactly. “Hard bristles can be harsh on your gums and may cause them to pull away from your teeth,” reveals a study by the Journal of the American Dental Association. The recommendation is to choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and to use it twice daily, for at least two minutes each time, for maximum effectivity. And don’t forget to replace it every three months.

#5: Should You Use Mouthwash Before or After Brushing?  

According to the American Dental Association, you can use mouthwash before or after brushing. It depends on the product you purchased or your doctor prescribed; always check the label to follow the recommended dose, frequency, and time in the mouth. But remember, using mouthwash should only complement your oral hygiene routine and never replace brushing or flossing entirely. 

#6: Can You Get Professional Dental Cleanings More Than Twice a Year? 

The Australian Dental Association advises seeing your dentist and having professional cleanings every six months. Want to be extra and go more frequently? It depends on your circumstances and your doctor’s recommendations. If you’re at risk for gum disease, they’ll likely ask you to visit more often.

Your doctor can also suggest other types of dental cleaning, like scaling and root planing, when needed. Additionally, they’ll check for issues making it difficult for you to reach the nooks and crannies of your mouth. If they identify teeth misalignments, they can recommend orthodontic treatments like ClearCorrect aligners to help you achieve more effective oral hygiene.

Now you know if you should rinse after brushing your teeth and if you can still brush after eating breakfast. Stay proactive in caring for your oral health by seeking expert advice and perusing guides such as this. Every question answered brings you one step closer to your dream smile!

 

References:

American Dental Association. (n.d.-b). Erosion: What You Eat and Drink Can Impact Teeth. Mouthhealthy.org.

Brushing teeth – Australian Dental Association. (n.d.).

Mark, A. M. (2021b). Keeping your smile healthy. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 152(10), 876.

Mouthrinse (Mouthwash). (n.d.). American Dental Association.

Seo, H. (2022, November 1). Brushing teeth: Is it better before breakfast or after? The New York Times.

“Spit don’t rinse” for better oral health. (2020, January 13). Oral Health Foundation.

Teague, K. (2023, June 6). Should you rinse after brushing? Experts say no. CNET.

Toothbrushes. (n.d.). American Dental Association.

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