FlipFact of the Day: Right after you brush your teeth (most likely with a fluoride toothpaste), what do you do next? If your answer revolves around immediately rinsing your mouth with water… you’ll definitely want to read this.
Fluoride (F−) is the simplest anion of fluorine, and it can prevent tooth decay (also called cavities or dental caries). When applied to teeth topically and frequently in low concentrations, fluoride can accelerate the growth of larger enamel crystals. In addition to starting the tooth’s remineralization (or deposition of minerals), the larger crystals also make the tooth less susceptible to future decay. According to experts, there are several ways by which fluoride protects the teeth from cavities: by reducing the solubility of enamel in acid, by reducing plaque organisms’ ability to produce acid (which causes teeth to demineralize or lose minerals), and by promoting remineralization in tooth areas that have already started losing minerals.
Here’s the thing, though: For fluoride to work its dental magic, it has to stay on your teeth for a while. And when you rinse with water immediately after brushing, you wash away the concentrated fluoride from the toothpaste that’s supposed to be left on your teeth, thereby diminishing its anticaries (cavity-preventing) effect. Instead, you should just spit out the excess toothpaste after you brush.
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