Why You Shouldn't Rinse After Brushing

Why You Shouldn't Rinse After Brushing


As part of my standard consultation process when I see patients, I ask about their daily routine oral health care.

Most of the time, I receive the same response. This typically revolves around how many times they brush a day and for how long. Occasionally, a patient might mention mouthwash, a topic that deserves its own discussion (keep your eyes peeled for that). However, it's these conversations that lead to the revelation of the next golden rule, one that often surprises everyone involved. 

It's at this point that I dive a little deeper into their routine and ask when exactly they use mouthwash. And, predictably, almost everyone replies, "after brushing." In this article, we'll explore the surprising truth behind why you shouldn't rinse after brushing your teeth and why the “spit don’t rinse” model is the way to go.

The Purpose of Toothpaste

Before delving into the "no rinsing" approach, it's essential to understand the role of toothpaste in your oral care routine. Toothpaste isn't just a flavorful paste that helps you brush away the remnants of your last meal. It's a carefully formulated product designed to deliver specific oral health benefits.

For example, one of the primary functions of toothpaste is to provide fluoride, a key ingredient for strengthening tooth enamel and preventing tooth decay. 

For as long as most of us can remember, the post-brush rinse has been an integral part of our oral care routine. We instinctively reach for a glass of water or mouthwash to rinse away any remaining toothpaste, debris, and that lingering feeling of freshness. It feels like the natural thing to do, as if it completes the ritual of brushing and leaves our mouths refreshed and clean. 

The problem is that this habit isn’t necessarily helping your oral health at all. While it feels like the right thing to do, it’s actually counterproductive and can reduce the impact of the beneficial  ingredient in toothpaste.

Why You Shouldn't Rinse After Brushing

Fluoride Retention

One of the primary reasons for not rinsing after brushing is to allow fluoride to remain on your teeth for an extended period. Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria and the foods and beverages you consume. When you rinse immediately after brushing, you may wash away a significant portion of the fluoride before it has a chance to work its magic.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t only pertain to rinsing with water. Rinsing with mouthwash right after brushing can have the same effect. 

Prolonged Contact

Leaving a thin layer of toothpaste on your teeth without rinsing allows the active ingredients in the toothpaste to have prolonged contact with your enamel. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitive teeth, as it provides more time for the toothpaste to work its desensitizing effects.

The Golden Rule: Spit, Don’t Rinse 

So, what's the recommended approach to maximize the benefits of your oral care routine? After brushing your teeth, spit out the excess toothpaste, but don't rinse immediately. Instead, let the remaining toothpaste sit on your teeth for at least 30 minutes. During this time, you can go about your morning or evening routine, but avoid eating or drinking to ensure the toothpaste remains undisturbed. 

The bottom line is that even the smallest changes to your oral care routine can make a significant difference. Embracing the ‘spit, don’t rinse’ technique is a simple way to improve your teeth. 

By allowing toothpaste to remain on your teeth for an extended period, you can enhance fluoride retention, strengthen enamel, and protect your teeth for longer.