Should you Rinse After Brushing - Debunking the Myths

General Medical Topics

woman brushing her teeth over the bathroom sink

If you rinse your mouth after you’ve finished brushing, you’re not the only one. Most people think it’s best to wash away toothpaste, but it’s not considered best practice. We debunk this and other myths about cleaning your teeth.

Myth #1 Rinse your Mouth After Brushing

Most finish the teeth-brushing process by rinsing their mouth with water. But, water washes fluoride toothpaste off teeth. The most benefit of fluoride toothpaste is to leave some on your teeth. Just spit out the excess toothpaste in your mouth but don’t rinse. The remnants of fluoride toothpaste will help keep your teeth protected from bacteria and plaque.    

Step-by-Step Guide to Brushing Your Teeth

You’ve no doubt been brushing your teeth almost every day since your first teeth appeared, but are you actually brushing correctly? Follow along for tips on the best techniques. 

  1. Place toothpaste on a soft bristle brush and open it wide to start your two minutes of brushing. Begin on the outer surfaces of your teeth, making sure you brush each tooth with a circular motion or short brush strokes. Take your brushing below the gumline by holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to ensure you brush away the bacteria and plaque that can cause periodontal disease.  

  2. Next, move to the inside surfaces of your teeth using the same short brush strokes. A 45-degree angle of the brush will help you get into the nooks and crannies. 

  3. Finally, don't forget the flat or chewing surfaces of your teeth. Short back and forward strokes will help remove bacteria and any remaining food. 

  4. If you choose, give your tongue a brush to remove some of the bacteria that live on your teeth. You can read more about tongue brushing here 

  5. Spit out the remaining toothpaste but don’t rinse your mouth. If you’ve always been a rinser, it can take some time to get used to a no-rinse process.

Brushing with Braces

If you have braces, brushing will take a little longer. The same technique applies, you just have more to brush. Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the top of the brackets, use a small circular motion to move the brush along the top half of your teeth. This will clean the teeth, brackets and wires. Brush the inside of your top teeth and all the flat surfaces. Repeat on the bottom arch using the same brush, angle and motion. 

If you think there’s still food caught between your teeth, use an interdental brush. They’re ideal for getting into any small gaps that your toothbrush can’t reach. When you have finished thoroughly brushing your teeth and braces, move on to flossing to ensure you’re removing bacteria between your teeth.  

Myth #2 Use Mouthwash After Brushing

Like toothpaste, some mouthwashes contain fluoride (Colgate Neutrafluor 220) to help protect teeth. But if you have just brushed your teeth, they’re already protected by your fluoride toothpaste. It’s best to use mouthwash at a different time of the day when your teeth aren’t freshly brushed. If you aren’t brushing after your midday meal or snack, make this the time that you use mouthwash. 

Myth #3 Hard Bristle Brushes Can Remove More Plaque

It’s true that when plaque is left on teeth, it becomes rock hard. It requires a dentist to chisel it off your teeth’s surface.

But the job of the toothbrush is to ensure plaque isn’t left on teeth, and a soft bristle brush is fine to do that. Using a hard bristle brush can damage the enamel that coats the surface of teeth. Once damaged, enamel can’t repair itself. 

Gums are also susceptible to injury from a hard bristle brush and vigorous brushing. Gums can bleed and recede exposing the sensitive teeth roots and making a person more susceptible to gum disease. Therefore, it’s best to use a soft bristle brush and gentle pressure to ensure you’re not damaging your teeth or gums while still removing bacteria and plaque from your teeth. 

Myth #4 Only Electric Toothbrushes Are Effective

Electric toothbrushes have grown in popularity in the last decade. Many people have converted to electric brushes and can’t go back to a manual toothbrush. There are a few advantages of using an electric toothbrush, such as a built-in timer which helps with knowing how long you’re brushing your teeth. Kids are also more likely to use an electric toothbrush than a ‘boring’ manual one. 

Electric brushes can remove more plaque, and it makes brushing teeth with braces a little easier with all the surfaces brackets create for bacteria to thrive. Also, electric toothbrushes do much of the work for you so a person with limited mobility can benefit. 

However, plenty of people are still using manual toothbrushes effectively. If you’re someone who can focus and be diligent about brushing all surfaces of your teeth, a manual toothbrush can do the job just fine.   

Myth #5 Flossing is Only Required Occasionally

The toothbrush can’t reach between teeth so any food debris or plaque there isn’t brushed away. The only effective way to clean between teeth is by flossing and this should be done every time you brush your teeth. 

You’ll need at least a 30 cm length of floss to wind the ends around your two middle fingers. Hold the floss taut between the thumbs and forefingers then run the floss up and down the sides of your teeth. Gently take the floss into the gum line. Floss between every tooth and the last teeth at the back of your mouth. Wind the floss between your fingers to ensure you’re using a fresh piece of floss each time.    

Staying on top of your oral hygiene by implementing small changes can be highly beneficial for your teeth and overall oral hygiene. If you'd like to discuss any concerns related to oral hygiene, make a call to your nearest clinic or contact us online and chat with one of our specialists.   

If you'd like to discuss how to brush your teeth effectively with braces, don't hesitate to make an appointment for a demonstration with one of our specialists by calling your clinic or getting in contact online.