Should you rinse your mouth after you brush? Study recommends no-rinse tooth brushing practice in oral health education programs

Rinsing with water after brushing is part of the oral health habit of most people. However, previous studies suggested that post-brushing rinsing with excessive water may compromise the caries-reducing effect of fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride toothpaste is the most widely used topical fluoride preparation in preventing and controlling dental caries.  Dental caries, known as tooth decay or cavities, continues to be a major health problem in both developed and developing countries. According to the Department of Health there is an 87.4% prevalence rate of dental caries among Filipinos.

Dental caries are caused by excessive sugar consumption and inadequate exposure to fluoride. It occurs when a sticky acidic film called plaque builds up on teeth and begins to break down the surface of the enamel. Inappropriate diet, smoking, alcohol, dry mouth, and poor oral hygiene increase the risk of tooth decay.

The World Health Organization recognizes the benefits of fluoride to oral health. Enamel is remineralized by fluoride which decreases the acid production of plaque and helps children develop their adult teeth. To further investigate this, a study published in Philippine Journal of Health Research and Development tested the Fluoride Toothpaste Utilization Formula1 and explored if rinsing after tooth brushing affects dental caries prevention.

According to the study by Michael Antonio F. Mendoza of the University of the Philippines Manila, increase in the effectiveness of fluoride toothpaste is observed the longer the teeth are exposed to fluoride. The study recommends promoting a no-rinse tooth brushing practice in oral health education programs. Dental experts also recommend that after brushing, one should only spit and one must avoid excessive rinsing with water to enhance the effectiveness of fluoride toothpaste.

“Further evaluation of the formula, particularly the rinsing variable, must be done to properly quantify the effects of fluoride and assess the other factors associated in tooth brushing with fluoridated toothpastes”, the researcher stated. However, he added that it is important to note that WHO and the Fédération Dentaire International (FDI) advocate a two-minute no-rinse tooth brushing twice a day using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

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1Fluoride Toothpaste Utilization Formula considers the amount of toothpaste used during brushing, frequency of use, and a rinsing variable to quantify the effect of rinsing after tooth brushing and to evaluate fluoride utilization.