An attractive smile is one of a person’s most striking and most appealing features.
A beautiful smile is an age-old beauty standard that has stood the test of time when so many other characteristics of beauty have come and gone.
In terms of oral health, most of us know the most important rules to adhere to when it comes to maintaining a beautiful smile.
Things like brushing twice a day, regular visits to the dentist and periodic changing out of our toothbrushes are all good oral hygiene habits that most of us follow to keep our mouth and gums healthy.
But it turns out that there is one rather large oral health habit that many of us are doing wrong.
“Spit, don’t rinse”
It’s a part of the tooth-brushing process that you probably give very little thought to: rinsing your mouth after brushing.
A whopping 2/3 of us do it, according to a poll from the Oral Health Foundation: swirling a bit of water around our mouth immediately after brushing to give that final rinse and get the toothpaste remnants and taste out of our mouths.
But it turns out we’ve been doing this seemingly inconsequential step all wrong.
Dental practitioners and specialists alike say that by rinsing, you’re basically negating all of the most important advantages of brushing your teeth in the first place.
After all, it isn’t the act of brushing itself that provides your teeth and gums the majority of the benefits, it’s the toothpaste.
The fluoride effect
Rinsing out your mouth after brushing your teeth also rinses out the ingredients from the toothpaste, most importantly: fluoride.
Fluoride is the principal ingredient in toothpaste that strengthens the enamel of the teeth, replaces lost minerals, works to prevent tooth decay, and assists in reducing the levels of acid the teeth produce.
The moment water rinses away the fluoride, all of those defensive and protective benefits wash away with it.
And it isn’t just water that’s to blame here: mouthwash unfortunately has the same effects.
While using mouthwash is a great way to stave off bad breath and keep the mouth feeling clean and fresh, you should definitely wait a while after brushing before reaching for the listerine to maximize the benefits of both products.
What to do instead
So what’s a tooth-brusher to do instead? Simply spitting the toothpaste out post-brushing is the most universally agreed upon way to reap the benefits of your toothpaste.
Spitting without rinsing will rid your mouth of any excess toothpaste whilst still allowing the fluoride to efficiently do its job.
Make sure to wait at least half an hour after brushing to drink water or other beverages.
You should be adhering to the “spit, don’t rinse” both times you brush your teeth each day, but this process is especially important at night time.
During the night your mouth produces less saliva than during the day which leaves your teeth more vulnerable to acid created by bacteria in the mouth.
Fluoride effectively reduces the amount of acid in your teeth and can pick up the slack left behind by the lesser amounts of saliva in the mouth.
This is why brushing your teeth at night to remove food from the teeth is essential so as not to allow bacteria to go wild overnight.
Skip the rinse and allow the fluoride the longest possible time to protect the teeth overnight and do its job while you sleep.
But what about all that excess toothpaste?
One of the most common objections people have when trying to convert to the “spit, don’t rinse” technique, is that it feels as if they have a lot of leftover toothpaste in their mouth after brushing.
This is an easy fix, as all you need to do is reduce the amount of toothpaste you use.
If you generally apply a line of toothpaste to the entire length of your brush, try opting for a pea-size amount insead.
You’ll find that you still have more than enough toothpaste to work up a good lather but won’t be left with quite as much excess paste in your mouth after spitting.
You won’t miss the rinsing aspect as much and the fluoride will have plenty of time to do its job most efficiently.
Other top tips for pearly whites
If you’re already a convert to the no-rinse method, make sure you’re following these other top tips for healthy teeth and gums to make sure you’re maximizing your teeth-brushing potential:
2 minutes is the optimal time for teeth-brushing
A tooth-brushing session should ideally last at least 2 minutes and yet the average person brushes their teeth for a mere 45 seconds.
Anything less than 2 full minutes does not give the fluoride enough time to appropriately attach to the enamel of the tooth.
So even if you aren’t rising, if you aren’t dedicating enough time to the actual tooth brushing process, you’re missing out on the benefits.
Set a timer if you need to and make sure you’re hitting all areas of the mouth including the sides of the teeth and the ones in the back of your mouth for the best clean.
Don’t forget your tongue
The tongue can be a breeding ground for bad-breath causing bacteria.
A tongue scraper is the optimal tool to use to clean the tongue but even the bristles of your toothbrush can do the job if need be.
You should be cleaning your tongue every time you brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and potential gum infections.
Skipping the mouth rinse after brushing your teeth might be a tough habit to break, but at the end of the day it can make a huge difference in reducing the possibility of tooth decay and in keeping your entire mouth healthy and clean.
Seeing the dentist regularly and brushing twice a day are two very important aspects of good oral hygiene and you can maximize the benefits of these habits by adopting the “spit, don’t rinse” method post-brushing!