To Rinse or Not to Rinse?

What to do in your post-brushing ritual

Intan Nobury


Oct 18, 23

3 min read

Photo by Nataliya Melnychuk on Unsplash

Ahhhh... to rinse or not to rinse: the post-brushing dilemma. 

It’s Friday night. You’re in your PJ's. It’s raining outside. You’ve had your dinner with a nice glass of pinot and flossed out the shredded chicken from your teeth. You are ready for b-e-d! Plans with your friends have been happily rescheduled and you are ready to Netflix and chill. Skincare complete and teeth are brushed. But as you stand at the sink, you might be pondering the age old question: should I rinse after brushing my teeth? As a little girl when watching movies, I had always noticed that the character didn’t rinse post brushing their teeth and personally always thought that was gross. But as I got older, I’m wondering if I’ve been doing it wrong the whole time. In this blog post, we'll explore the pros and cons of rinsing post-brushing and offer some valuable insights to help you make an informed decision about your oral hygiene routine and care. 

Why We Should Rinse After Brushing

  1. The "Fresh Feeling": For many, rinsing with mouthwash or water after brushing provides an immediate sensation of freshness and cleanliness. It's a satisfying way to cap off your oral hygiene ritual.
  2. Extra Plaque Removal: Rinsing can help remove any loosened plaque and debris that brushing may have dislodged, leaving your mouth feeling extra clean.

Why We Shouldn’t Rinse After Brushing

  1. Fluoride Retention: Rinsing immediately after brushing may wash away the residual fluoride from your toothpaste, reducing its effectiveness in strengthening your teeth and preventing cavities.
  2. Minimal Exposure to Fluoride: Most toothpaste instructions recommend not rinsing after brushing to allow the fluoride to remain in contact with your teeth for an extended period. This can be especially important for preventing tooth decay.

Can we meet in the middle?

To rinse or not to rinse? The answer may be a compromise.

Use Fluoride Toothpaste: Choose a toothpaste with fluoride to provide your teeth with essential protection.

Brush Thoroughly: Spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth, covering all surfaces, and don't rinse immediately. Set a timer or if you have an electric toothbrush, most come with an in built timer.

Spit, Don't Rinse: After brushing, spit out the toothpaste but refrain from rinsing for at least 30 minutes. This allows the fluoride to work its magic.

Rinse with Mouthwash: If you still crave that fresh feeling, use an alcohol-free, fluoride-containing mouthwash separately, ideally at a different time of day from your brushing routine.

Ever seen that ad of that Mexican family choosing between hard and soft tacos, and the little girl comes in and says, “Por qué no los dos” (why don’t we have both)? Perhaps if you can’t decide between the two, you can rinse your mouth in the morning and then not rinse at night, letting the fluoride work its magic while you sleep.

Final Thoughts

The "to rinse or not to rinse" dilemma ultimately depends on your personal preferences and oral health goals. Remember that the key to maintaining a healthy smile goes beyond rinsing habits. Consistent brushing, flossing, regular dental check-ups, and a balanced diet are all crucial components of good oral hygiene. By striking a balance between your desire for freshness and your need for fluoride protection, you can customize your oral care routine to best suit your dental health and personal needs. Or, you could do both.

Written By

Intan Nobury

An appreciator of art, novels and high intensity sports. With a passion for work and a dangerous addiction to tea.