Vigorous rinsing of the mouth will aid in the removal of food debris and loosely adherent plaque. Although water rinsing does not remove attached plaque, it may help return the mouth to a neutral pH following the acid production that results from ingesting fermentable carbohydrates. Rinsing or use of an irrigator is also helpful for individuals with orthodontic appliances.

For maximum effectiveness, a technique should be adopted whereby fluid is forced through the interproximal areas of clenched teeth with as much pressure as possible in order to loosen and clear debris. Use of the lip, tongue, and cheek muscles aids in forcing the fluid back and forth between the teeth prior to expectoration.

Rinsing has a limited impact supragingivally and is not efficient in subgingival penetration. It has no impact in reducing clinical parameters associated with gingival inflammation. However, the use of a therapeutic agent enhances the effect of rinsing. Antimicrobial rinsing has been utilized as part of a full mouth disinfection approach to improve oral tissue health.See Chapter 6 for a detailed discussion of the impact of chemotherapeutics.