Most people know that you should brush your teeth at least twice – once when you wake up and once before you go to bed. However, did you know that dentists recommend not rinsing after brushing your teeth? You’re not alone if this is news to you. To understand why rinsing after brushing is not recommended, we need to first understand how cavities form and how the fluoride in our toothpaste works.
Our tooth’s enamel (i.e the outer layer of the tooth) loses and gains minerals every day through the processes of demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization (i.e. the process of losing minerals) occurs when acids from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth attack the enamel. In contrast, remineralization occurs when minerals, such as calcium and phosphate (which are what the enamel is made out of, and is also found in saliva), or fluoride are redeposited to the enamel. Tooth decay and cavities form when there is significant demineralization and insufficient remineralization.
To encourage remineralization, dentists therefore recommend brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste and not rinsing after brushing, as the fluoride is more likely to remain on your tooth and remineralize the enamel, preventing cavities and tooth decay.