In my 4 decades of existence on this planet, the very first time I came across the instruction that ‘one should never rinse the mouth with water immediately after brushing the teeth’ was 2 weeks ago!
I stumbled on a tweet from Leo that surprisingly escaped Twitter’s new-fangled algorithm that ensures that all I see are tweets from Twitter Blue subscribers and those I do not follow, and somehow landed on my timeline. Thankfully.
I was honestly zapped at the suggestion not to rinse after brushing.
“What else are we supposed to do?”.
“How would I drink my coffee?”.
“How long would I have to stay on with that excessively minty taste in my mouth first thing in the morning?”.
These, and more, were some of the questions that immediately came to my mind after I read that tweet in total disbelief. But considering Leo found this in his late-30s and my stumbling on this in my 40s, it’s probably apparent this method is not all that common, at least in India.
I immediately did what anyone else would do in my situation: Google.
Even a simple query like ‘should I rinse after brushing my teeth?’ gets you tons of results that point categorically to ‘No!’.
I queried ChatGPT too, as is in vogue these days, and there, the advice was a bit mixed 🙂
But, back to Google.
Quite a few official pages of famous toothpaste brands recommend that we do not rinse our mouth with water to thoroughly remove all traces of toothpaste (as I have been doing forever/since I started brushing).
Here’s Sensodyne’s US page.
And Colgate’s advice on Twitter is straight to the point!
And here is UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recommending the same.
Check any video on YouTube that points to this advice and you’d also notice tons of people expressing shock that they hadn’t known this ever, they were never told by any dentist they have been visiting for years, and most importantly, they have never seen any toothpaste brand advertise this.
That is quite interesting. Brands that sell toothbrushes and toothpaste have never advertised this tiny nuance even as they go on and on about oral hygiene, good brushing techniques, and so on.
The Indian pages of both Sensodyne and Colgate have no mention of rinsing at all, incidentally.
So, two questions:
1. Why don’t toothpaste brands advertise something that is supposedly the right way to brush teeth even as they talk about it on their websites and particularly when so many people are clearly not aware of this technique? And when this can clearly and obviously improve the efficacy of their products?
2. Why are Indian toothpaste brands not talking about it at all?
When I read the reason behind this advice, I figured that you are not supposed to rinse because the fluoride in the paste is supposed to stay on the teeth and work on remineralizing the enamel. Rinsing immediately removes the fluoride away from the teeth.
But this reason poses an interesting conundrum in the Indian scenario.
If you consider the top/most known/advertised toothpaste in India, besides Colgate, Closeup, and Sensodyne, the others (like the entire range from Dabur – Dabur Red, Meswak, Babool; Vicco, Himalaya, etc.) are all non-fluoridated toothpaste and they either mention this on the pack, or do not mention but don’t list fluoride in the ingredients! Surprisingly, Patanjali Dant Kanti doesn’t call out specifically that it is a non-fluoridated toothpaste and actually lists the fluoride content!
So, if there is no fluoride in many Indian toothpaste brands, to begin with, the advice of not rinsing wouldn’t even matter since that is based on the presence of fluoride in the toothpaste.
Even so, why don’t the actual fluoride-based toothpaste brands take any initiative to inform people about rinsing (or not)?
For an advice so widely offered by dentists, toothpaste brands (around the world), and even official Government health websites (like in the UK), why is this rinsing technique so less known/unfamiliar to so many people?
Given that most people find it later in life (because their parents didn’t know it either and just taught what they knew, to their children) if it is really such a useful/effective technique in the overall brushing routine, wouldn’t it be a substantially big message to communicate on behalf of toothpaste/toothbrush brands?
And yet, we do not see any toothpaste/toothbrush brand taking the initiative to use it in their marketing and advertising, whether in India or outside India.
I’m adequately baffled.