The aim of the study was to determine whether rinsing with a mouthwash after brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste affected oral fluoride (F) retention and clearance compared with an oral hygiene regime without mouthwash. In this supervised, single-blind study, 3 regimes were compared: (A) brushing for 1 min with 1 g of 1,450 microg F/g NaF toothpaste followed by rinsing for 5 s with 10 ml water; (B) as A but followed by rinsing for 30 s with 20 ml of 100 mg F/l NaF mouthwash, and (C) as B but rinsing for 30 s with a non-fluoridated mouthwash. Twenty-three adults applied each treatment once in a randomised order, separated by 1-week washout periods, and used a non-fluoridated toothpaste at home prior to and during the study. Whole saliva samples (2 ml), collected before each treatment commenced and 10, 20, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min afterwards, were subsequently analysed for fluoride by ion-specific electrode. The mean (SD) back-transformed log (area under salivary F clearance curve) values were: A = 2.36 (+3.37, -1.39), B = 2.54 (+2.72, -1.31) and C = 1.19 (+1.10, -0.57) mmol F/l x min, respectively. The values for regimes A and B were statistically significantly greater than that for regime C (p < 0.001; paired t test). These findings suggest that use of a non-F mouthwash after toothbrushing with a F toothpaste may reduce the anticaries protection provided by toothbrushing with a F toothpaste alone. The use of a mouthwash with at least 100 mg F/l should minimise this risk.