Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a month of fasting and religious focus for Muslims. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam where Muslims refrain from consuming food and drinks, including water, from early dawn to sunset. Fasting teaches self-control and self-discipline, purifies the mind and body, and allows one to empathize with the poor and hungry. Ramadan poses many oral health challenges and it’s important that those who fast take proper care of their teeth and gums.
Tips to maintain good oral health during Ramadan:
- Brush, floss, and use mouthwash after suhoor and iftar
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water after iftar because hydration allows the mouth to salivate which reduces the acidity and minimizes cariogenic bacterial activity
- Eat a decent amount of fruits and vegetables, as they are an excellent source of hydration
- Cut down on the number of cigarettes smoked since nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco, leads to periodontal disease, bad breath, and other harmful effects towards one’s general health (Ramadan is a great opportunity to quit smoking)
- Avoid sticky food such as candy since it increases mouth acidity and bacterial activity resulting in decay
- Use a tongue scraper because it eliminates anaerobic bacteria that stick to the posterior third of the tongue and are the main cause of bad breath
- Chewing mint leaves or parsley is a natural solution to refresh the mouth
Among people’s biggest concern is the fact that fasting causes bad breath, which is usually caused by dehydration, gum disease, tartar buildup, or leftover food in between teeth and on the tongue.
As noted in the British Dental Journal, fasting causes “an increase in the concentration of sulphur containing compounds present in the oral cavity with time when a patient is fasting causing a marked malodour, which may be misdiagnosed as being associated with poor oral hygiene or oral disease. The odour may reduce with debridement with dentifrice or when the individual breaks their fast.”