Tooth brushing is the cornerstone of great dental hygiene. To maximize its benefits, you have to do it properly and regularly. Experts in oral health recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once more before bedtime. Since the enamel of your teeth has to be scrubbed clean without being worn away, you have to avoid brushing with excessive force and use a toothbrush with soft bristles.

But proper tooth brushing doesn’t end there. What do you do when you’re done? Do you rinse out your mouth with water or gargle with mouthwash? According to dentists, neither option is good for your teeth.

Spitting as a Third Option

According to the Oral Health Foundation, rinsing your mouth with water after brushing detracts from tooth protection. Instead, they recommend that you spit out the excess foam. Although this seems a little gross to some people, there’s good reason behind this recommendation.

The most important ingredient in your toothpaste is fluoride. This chemical strengthens the enamel coating of your teeth, which makes them resistant to tooth decay from the bacterial acids your mouth generates.

If you rinse after brushing, either with water or with mouthwash, you wash away the toothpaste fluoride coating on your teeth. Spitting out the foam could be a little uncomfortable, but it retains the fluoride instead of removing it, thereby enhancing your teeth’s protection. By doing so, you can reduce tooth decay by as much as 26 percent.

Even though spitting instead of rinsing is more beneficial to your oral health, researchers found only 23 percent of people do so. You might think that using mouthwash in place of water would be acceptable, but this will also strip away the fluoride. Experts say you should use mouthwash at a different time to prevent fluoride loss. This is only one dental hygiene faux pas that people sometimes commit.

cup full of different colored toothbrush

Dental Hygiene Faux Pas

Another way people misuse mouthwash is by thinking that it can replace regular flossing. Mouthwash alone can’t remove food detritus from the gaps between teeth. Without flossing, food debris can turn into plaque and tartar after eight to 12 hours. These hard substances require a professional to remove. If damage has set in, visit your dentist or a reputable orthodontist.  But the best course of action is still to prevent tooth damage.

People could also make mistakes in their flossing. You may think that a floss pick is a good enough substitute for string floss, but it’s not as effective and could spread bacteria. Some people also stop flossing when they see blood in their spit. Although you might be alarmed, dental hygienists say that instead of stopping, you should floss more. Unhealthy gums tend to bleed if you touch them, but regular flossing will improve its constitution, which could lead to fewer bleeding incidents.

Proper dental hygiene practices build better oral health, but it’s by no means the only factor. Healthy diet and lifestyle choices also play an important role. Once you combine these things, you can look forward to a future of healthy teeth and dazzling smiles.