This is one of the latest controversial questions among Nigerians now as regards the oral health. Generally, most people rinse their mouth with water either warm or hot or cold after brushing their teeth for many obvious reasons. The question that come to mind is “how else are you meant to remove or mask that strong minty taste of our toothpaste and or how else do you clear your mouth of leftover toothpaste? Well, rinsing your mouth after brushing may not be the proper thing to do. Frankly, it is generally perceived that if one should rinse out your mouth with water after brushing, one is getting rid of the fluoride which protects your teeth from the mouth.
Fluoride helps to re-mineralize the enamel, helps young children develop the adult teeth and decreases the acid production of plaque.
So, if fluoride does all of this good stuff, then why would you want to wash it out of your mouth with water? As with everything there are two sides to the argument, let’s look at them both.
Argument 1: Why you should NOT rinse your mouth with water after brushing?
As we’ve already mentioned, rinsing with water after brushing flushes away the fluoride that is so beneficial to your teeth. However, the majority of people brush their teeth for less than a minute, which doesn’t give the fluoride toothpaste very much time to work on your teeth. If you don’t rinse, then the fluoride has more time to get to work protecting your teeth. The result? Healthier, cleaner teeth which are less prone to cavities.
Argument 2: Why you should rinse your mouth with water after brushing?
Some people out there will tell you that ingesting toothpaste will harm your stomach and cause irritations. They will also tell you that you must rinse out your mouth after brushing in order to wash away all of that bacteria that came off your teeth during brushing. This makes as much sense as the argument for not rinsing with water after brushing, so what should you do?
What does science say?
A study conducted on the factors relating to fluoride retention after brushing, confirms that there “might be a relation between the caries activity and the retention of fluoride after tooth brushing, and that mouth rinsing with water after the brushing should be reduced to a minimum in order to get the maximum beneficial effect of the daily fluoride exposure through the dentifrice.” It seems that not rinsing with water after brushing leads to less cavities occurring.
Another study conducted over three years on the effect of post-brush rinsing behaviour on dental caries revealed “Previous studies have indicated that rinsing the mouth with a cup of water after tooth brushing may compromise the caries-reducing effect of fluoride toothpaste. It is concluded that post-brushing rinsing with water, under the conditions of this study, does not significantly affect the caries-reducing effect of a fluoride toothpaste.”
It looks like the scientists can’t agree on this one either.
The big question: to rinse or not to rinse?
If you do choose to rinse your mouth, should you be rinsing with cold, warm, or hot water? Does it make a difference? It really does not matter what temperature the water is when you rinse your mouth unless you have a sensitivity. Some people have sensitive teeth and are very aware if the water is hot or cold. For these individuals, rinsing with a warm water is the best option.
A better recommendation instead of stating whether one should or should not rinse after brushing should be to use less toothpaste. Toothpaste, like soap, suds/ foams up when it interacts with your teeth and water. If you want less toothpaste slurry in your mouth after you are done brushing, reduce the amount of toothpaste on your brush. For example, if you normally place an entire line the length of your brush, cut that amount in half and only use a line over half your brush. This way you will not create the suds and will not need to rinse after you spit out the last bit of toothpaste from brushing. Just wipe your mouth of excess on the sides, and away you go.
If you do not like the taste of the toothpaste and that is your primary reason for rinsing your mouth with water, then try a bunch of different toothpaste to see which one fits your individual style better. There are many flavoured versions out there that you may like better than your current toothpaste. Most common in the market are mint toothpastes, but there are other toothpastes in the market too.
Another factor may be whether you are using a paste toothpaste or a gel toothpaste. One does not suds up as much as the other, requiring you to use less water. If you have not tried this, experiment a little and see whether you like a paste or a gel tooth cleaner better. When looking at the ingredient list on a tube of toothpaste, you are looking to see whether the cleaner has surfactants listed. A surfactant is going to be listed as sodium lauryl sulphate and this is the chemical that creates the suds when you are brushing. If you find a toothpaste that does not have this ingredient, you will have much less suds and no need to rinse with water after brushing.
If you are at higher risk of cavities than the average person then don’t rinse. Keeping more fluoride in your mouth for longer can only be beneficial. But remember to brush your teeth for at least the recommended two minutes. This will give the fluoride more time to do its job.
Close up photo of tooth brushing with toothpaste
On the other hand, if you don’t overeat sugar, don’t have bad crowns or fillings, bad oral hygiene or lots of cavity-causing bacteria then it’s not going to make a big difference whether you rinse or not as your teeth are not as susceptible to cavities in the first place.
The choice is yours!