Teeth have always been fascinating to me, and I considered going to the dentist regularly an integral part of maintaining beautiful chompers. I loved getting my teeth industrially cleaned, as well as the cool, little toys I would get after each visit.
Even now as an adult without the toy incentive, a trip to the dentist has me smiling from ear to ear. As far as I’m concerned, going to the dentist is to teeth brushing what going to a nail salon is to manicures — a professional version of something you can do well enough at home.
When it comes to getting things done professionally, you have an expectation that it’s being done the best way it can possibly be done. As someone who likes to save money by learning as much as I can from said professionals, I take extra care to pay attention to what they’re doing.
Something I just recently noticed about my dental appointments is that there always seemed to be a lot of toothpaste in my mouth after the cleaning. No matter how many times I rinsed or how much water I used, my teeth felt coated with the stuff, and I thought there was something wrong about that until I remembered: These are professionals. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.
Apparently you’re not supposed to rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth. According to Dynamic Dental Care, you’re merely supposed to spit the toothpaste out, not rinse with water. The reason you aren’t supposed to rinse out the toothpaste is its active ingredient: fluoride, xylitol, etc. (depends on what you use and what your views on fluoride are).
Fluoride, for example, purportedly works to prevent tooth decay by remineralizing and strengthening teeth. The longer it’s on your teeth, the more time it has to prevent tooth decay, which is why spitting out your toothpaste but not rinsing is integral to oral health.
"As helpful as toothpaste is, it shouldn’t be swallowed in a concentrated form."
As helpful as toothpaste is, it shouldn’t be swallowed in a concentrated form. According to the Oral Health Foundation and The Fluoride Action Network, swallowing toothpaste can lead to dental fluorosis, especially if done while teeth are developing (such as when you’re a child).
Dental fluorosis is irreparable damage to tooth enamel that presents itself as fine white lines or flecking on the tooth’s surface. This disease can cause your teeth to erode and crumble.
This possibility may be terrifying, but it’s still best to not rinse out your toothpaste. By instead spitting out the toothpaste but not rinsing right away, it mixes with your saliva, thus diluting the amount of fluoride enough to make it both effective and relatively harmless. By not rinsing the toothpaste out, it sticks to your teeth longer, allowing it to work in all of the nooks and crannies of your mouth. An excess of fluoride can ruin your enamel, but the consistent presence of just the right amount can give you stronger, whiter teeth.
All of this information blew my mind. I have always loved my teeth, so I was all set to do what needed to be done to make them better. I immediately stopped rinsing my mouth after brushing.
It took some time to get used to. Keeping the toothpaste in my mouth felt so weird. It made my tongue feel thick and gross. One habit that really helped me get used to it was using a tongue scraper after I brushed my teeth. That tool is also solidly integral for oral hygiene.
All-in-all, my teeth routine takes me a good ten minutes, but you have to put in the work if you want to see results. As Annie said, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!