ramadan and oral health

Ramadan and Oral Health: What You Need to Know

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Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is the month of fasting for Muslims.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all throughout the Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from the consumption of food or drink every day from early dawn to sunset. All physically and mentally healthy adult Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and all other physical needs.

A vast number of Muslims who fast during this sacred period also defer dental treatments due to a fear of breaking the fast. Even among health professionals, a certain amount of uncertainty prevails about the implications of treating a patient who is fasting.

So, does going to the dentist break your fast? And can you brush your teeth while fasting.

To help clear all doubts about undergoing dental procedures and maintain oral hygiene while fasting, this article focuses on what dental providers and fasting patients know about Ramadan.

SEE ALSO: How Do You Keep Your Mouth Fresh During Ramadan?

Our specialist prosthodontist gives us an insight on oral health and dental procedures during the Holy Month. In terms of dentistry, which acts are permissible and which ones would nullify the fast? Find out below.

What do people gain from fasting?

Fasting allows learning self-restraint from indulgence in everyday pleasures, developing self-control and self-discipline, purifying the mind and the body, and empathizing with the poor and hungry.

Aside from the spiritual gains attained while abstaining from food and drink during Ramadan, fasting has countless health benefits, too. From improved weight management and healthier blood cell regeneration to better heart function and vascular wellbeing, different methods of fasting (intermittent fasting being a popular one) have been proven to alleviate several health issues and is increasingly becoming a go-to method for keeping young, fit and healthy.

Health-wise, fasting involves powerful therapeutic processes that can help people recover from mild to severe health conditions. Fasting can lower blood sugar, cholesterol and (systolic) blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension.

Can You Brush Your Teeth or Floss While Fasting?

Toothpaste while fasting is allowed during the holy month of Ramadan, although some scholars of Islam consider the use of toothpaste to be highly undesirable because deliberate or accidental swallowing of them will nullify the fast.

You can always brush and floss thoroughly before sleeping at night and I recommend brushing after Suhoor (pre-dawn meal). Brushing twice daily is sufficient for oral disease prevention.

Can You Use Mouthwash While Fasting?

Mouthwashes are commonly prescribed by dentists as an adjunct to oral hygiene. Some patients may be reluctant to use mouthwash for fear of unintentionally swallowing some. If this is the case, you can use it outside fasting hours as advised by your dentist.

Does Going To Dentist Break Your Fast?

Some patients think that actions that take place during dental procedures will nullify their fast but local anaesthetics (injections) are permissible forms of treatments for those who are observing Ramadan. However, when patients are reluctant, it is best to re-schedule or delay treatments especially if there is no acute pain/discomfort.

If you’re wondering if dental treatments and preventative procedures invalidate the fast, the answer is no. In that case, does extraction break fast? Since an extraction may be performed to prevent infection from spreading, it comes under the purview of a preventable treatment, and therefore, is permissible.

If your question is, does getting a filling break your fast, the answer will depend on some factors. All dental work including fillings, tooth extraction, root canal or any other procedure should not break your fast as long as you do not swallow water. If you feel it will be difficult to avoid swallowing water and the procedure is urgent, the fast can be broken and made up after Ramadan based on medical grounds. Otherwise, it would be best to schedule the appointment after Ramadan.

Are there dental procedures that should be postponed by fasting patients if the treatment dates fall during Ramadan?

Dental treatments and preventative procedures (including restorations, scaling and extractions) do not invalidate the fast, but some patients are unwilling to have procedures done due to differences in their views.

Patients who require immediate or advanced treatment, like those who suffer from deteriorating chronic illness or those who face dental emergencies, could break the fast. If it is possible, the dentist can delay or re-schedule treatments for their patients.

What’s your advice to patients who are taking medications and who want to fast?

Oral medications are not permissible and invalidate the fast. If you fall ill and avoiding medication could result in harm and is life-threatening, it’s acceptable to break the fast.

When a dental problem occurs during the holy month of Ramadan and medications are needed, you can discuss it with your dentist. He or she may be able to adjust your medications and/or the dosage as per the hours of fasting.

What are your health tips for people who are fasting?

  • Don’t skip Suhoor.
  • Don’t overeat during Iftar (dinner).
  • Avoid eating fried foods, salty foods and high-sugar foods.
  • Drink as much water as possible.
  • Keep your meals healthy.
  • Whenever possible, opt for steaming, grilling or baked food.
  • If you use oil for cooking, settle for healthy options like canola oil.
  • Drink plenty of water (drink of choice), juices, milk, and soups.
  • Cut down on coffee, tea, soda, and all other caffeinated drinks – they have diuretic effects and thus dehydrate the body.
  • Refrain from smoking as it can reduce saliva production, so the bad breath can occur. 

Related Articles

Sources

  • Management of Muslim Dental Patient While Fasting. Faizal C Peedikayil1, Abraham Thomas2, MC Naushad3, Arun Narayanan4
  • Management of Muslim Dental Patient While Fasting. Darwish S., Br Dent J 2005;199:503-4
  • Tips for healthy Ramadan Fasting. Alvin Chumari for Health Xchange, with expert input from the Department of Dietetics at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group
  • Psycho-Social Behaviour and Health Benefits of Islamic Fasting During the Month of Ramadan. Ahmad S, Goel K, Maroof KA, Goel P, Arif M, Amir M and Abid M
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