It may have been said in passing to you… a mind-blowing fact about brushing your teeth: You’re not supposed to rinse after brushing. The old-school knowledge was that doing so rinses away the fluoride, which helps fight cavities and prevents tooth decay. But that “fun fact” about hygiene and health is a bit out of date.
According to Michaela Tozzi, DMD, a dentist in Las Vegas who specializes in oral hygiene and cosmetic dentistry, doing a quick rinse after brushing your teeth is absolutely okay—and it can actually be really beneficial. “It’s a good idea to do so, as there’s bacteria in the toothpaste after brushing,” she says. “Rinse long enough so there’s no residue remaining in your mouth. Water is fine, but if you prefer mouthwash, use a non-alcohol based rinse.”
After 30 seconds of rinsing, spit it out. And, FYI, there’s no need to do a second rinse with water if you’re using mouthwash, as Dr. Tozzi says most bacteria has already been manually removed with the toothbrush and toothpaste.
There’s one exception, however. If you’re using toothpaste for therapeutic purposes—like “fluoride for sensitivity and enamel strength,” she says—you’ll want to do things a bit differently.
In that case, Dr. Tozzi says your routine should be the following: brush, rinse, and spit per usual. Then apply the toothpaste topically with your finger, and spit. “Do the same with a calcium-based toothpaste for demineralized and weakened enamel,” she says. You’ll still reap the benefits of rinsing while also ensuring you’re still getting the full benefits from the fluoride. Squeaky clean teeth, here you come.