Should You Rinse After Brushing Teeth?

Should You Rinse After Brushing Teeth?

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH🔬 Evidence Based
Should You Rinse After Brushing Teeth?

It’s bedtime. You just finished brushing your teeth and you go to swish and rinse out all that toothpaste from your mouth; but have you ever questioned why you do that? Sure, we might want to rinse out the foam, food debris, and make our mouth cleaner, but how is the toothpaste supposed to work if we rinse it all away? 

Skipping the rinse after brushing helps fluoride work better. Just spit out the extra toothpaste and wait 10 minutes before eating or drinking.

Some observational studies show that dental patients who want to reap the full benefits of their toothpaste should not rinse it all when they are done brushing their teeth! The same may be true for mouthwash as well. For example, people with enamel hypersensitivity can benefit from not rinsing away their anti-sensitivity toothpaste after brushing, or anti-sensitivity mouthwash. Why? Because it allows the ingredients to soak into the porous tooth structure better. Yes, it’s usually okay to rinse after brushing. But if you don’t rinse after you brush, there could be some added benefits you may not have considered. 

Why Is It Better To Leave Toothpaste On Your Teeth And Not Rinse? 

There’s a good reason behind the benefits of not rinsing away all your toothpaste after you brush your teeth. Rinsing your mouth after brushing can wash away the fluoride's benefits, so it's advised to just spit out excess toothpaste instead. This helps keep fluoride on your teeth longer. Experts recommend waiting at least 10 minutes before eating or drinking after brushing. The American Dental Association points out that for professional fluoride treatments, patients are asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for 30 minutes to ensure the fluoride fully benefits the teeth.

By leaving a little toothpaste behind on your teeth and gumlines, it serves as an added preventative advantage for the following issues:

1. Sensitivity Prone Teeth

Whether your teeth are hypersensitive to cold water, acidic food, or even brushing your teeth, leaving anti-sensitivity toothpaste on your tooth surfaces after brushing can help to decrease sensitivity and allow the toothpaste to work more effectively. For anyone whose teeth are sensitivity-prone, dentists may recommend using prescription fluoride toothpaste at certain times, such as before and after whitening treatments. This can help to reduce hypersensitivity symptoms and provide more comfort when used as directed (like not rinsing after you use it.)

2. Cavity Prone Teeth

Does it feel like you have a new cavity every time you turn around? People with a history of frequent tooth decay or restorative will benefit from using fluoride toothpaste or prescription toothpaste as directed. Whether the high decay risk is from your diet, family history, or systemic health-related issues, you will almost always need to use some form of fluoride toothpaste. People with a high risk—such as those in braces or with gum recession—may require prescription strength toothpaste to ensure they are reaping the full benefits of the fluoride. These individuals can significantly benefit from leaving toothpaste to sit on their teeth after brushing, since it allows for more direct contact time between the fluoride and tooth surface. 

By just spitting out excess toothpaste without rinsing afterward, you’ll find that the fluoride ingredients work more effectively and you protect your teeth even better.

3. Dry Mouth (Xerostomia):

For anyone who suffers from severe dry mouth, you’ll definitely benefit by leaving a little bit of toothpaste behind after brushing instead of rinsing it all off. Products to help keep the mouth moisturized after brushing, such as Biotene, work more effectively when they’re left in your mouth after brushing. While fluoride is often the main ingredient to help reduce cavity risk due to dry mouth symptoms, there are also ingredients such as xylitol that can help stimulate salivary flow.

4. Oral Microbiome Balance

Looking to better balance your oral flora? A better-balanced oral microbiome can help your gum health and make your breath smell better. For improved periodontal health, probiotic toothpastes are a great choice! This is another toothpaste that can potentially work best by letting it sit inside your mouth so that the probiotic benefits work to their full potential. These probiotics can also be beneficial for gut health, and some are safe for swallowing. Be sure to always check with your dentist and follow the product’s instructions if you are unsure how to use it. 

Don’t Eat After Brushing Your Teeth

After you brush your teeth and spit out the excess toothpaste, it’s best to avoid eating and drinking right away. When you eat or drink, the pH balance (acid level) of your mouth changes. While your mouth’s acid level can change, it can affect your tooth enamel and contribute to erosion, plaque accumulation, and unwanted bacteria growth. It’s best to wait at least 20 minutes after brushing if you want to reap the full benefits of brushing and the toothpaste you’re using. 

Brushing Correctly To Prevent Tooth Decay

Preventing tooth decay start with great brushing! Start with a soft bristle brush, as recommended by the American Dental Association, because it's gentle on your gums and effective at cleaning your teeth. Use fluoridated toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay and strengthen your teeth. When brushing, don't forget to gently scrub the gum line to ward off gum disease, and pay extra attention to the chewing surfaces where food particles like to hide. Developing good brushing habits, like brushing twice a day for two minutes, will help you maintain a healthy mouth and prevent dental problems.

Rinsing After Brushing

Some people refuse not to rinse their teeth because they don’t like the feel of toothpaste in their mouth. That’s ok! If you must rinse after brushing, try rinsing with a mouthwash that also provides oral health benefits, such as one containing fluoride, antibacterial properties, and a neutral pH. After rinsing with a mouthwash, it’s best to not rinse out with water and to avoid eating for at least 20 minutes as well. That way the mouthrinse can actually do its job. If you can’t stand the idea of brushing without rinsing, other oral care products can help, like special lozenges and mouth sprays.

What the Research Says

While there is no evidence-based research on the benefits of not rinsing your teeth after you brush, there is observational data that supports the idea of not rinsing after brushing. The preventative benefits are both dentist and hygienist rerecommended! Many toothpaste instructions will also not include rinsing after using them in their directions; rather, they will instruct you to spit out excess toothpaste when done brushing. The same goes for mouthwash; many instructions do not include rinsing with water after use.

Current research doesn't provide clear guidance on the exact duration toothpaste should remain on your teeth, and concerns about fluoride ingestion or swallowing fluoride are common.

Rinse After Brushing Teeth?

Whether you suffer from sensitive teeth, have a high risk of tooth decay, or just want to reap the full benefits of your toothpaste, try to avoid rinsing your teeth for at least a few minutes after brushing; it can be beneficial for your oral health. To learn more about what toothpaste and oral hygiene routine you should use, it’s important to always talk to your dentist and dental hygienist. By discussing your own dental health needs, they can help direct you to the best products, discuss how to use them to their full potential, and you’ll get the most out of your time (and investment.)

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Last updated onFebruary 27, 2024Here is our process

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