The holy month of Ramadan is an important time for many Muslims, and sees believers abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.
How do believers ensure that their oral health is maximized during this time? There are a few extra things we can do during these times to make sure we avoid dental issues, yet abide by the principles of the fast.
It seems obvious to say this, but do not forget to brush your teeth after Iftar and Suhoor. You can use interdental brushes, floss and mouthwash to remove food, and ideally your mouth should be as clean as possible after you have finished eating, and before periods of sleep. Make sure you enter the fast with teeth as clean as they can be.
Think about what foods you are eating
Try and avoid brushing your teeth straight after eating acidic foods, such as orange juice and vinegars, as the acid in the food can soften the teeth and make them more susceptible to erosion. Eating cheese can neutralize this. Avoid sugary foods and especially sugary and fizzy drinks. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water per day to keep yourself hydrated and help wash away food particles. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee as they have diuretic effects.
These increase the risk of caries or tooth decay, and can cause long term problems for your teeth. Tooth decay can lead to fillings being required, and it is always best to try and prevent this.
Can I swallow my saliva?
Saliva is produced constantly in the mouth, and helps the teeth and gums stay healthy. Brushing teeth during the fast is not in itself forbidden, but can create increased saliva. It is not forbidden to swallow your own saliva, and a gentle brush may help to remove plaque. Some believers feel uncomfortable using toothpaste during the fast, due to the minty taste. Mouthwash is definitely not permitted during the fast due to the risk you may swallow some.
Will dental treatments/procedures and administration of an aesthetic (injections) break the fast?
Some patients think that actions that take place during dental procedures will nullify their fast but local anesthetics (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.
Can I take prescribed dental medicines during a fast?
Sometimes your dentist may give you a prescription for a dental problem, such as an infection of the gums or teeth. If you are ill during Ramadan you may be able to make up the days of fasting later. Your dentist may be able to help you by adjusting the prescription to make it as short a duration as possible and according to the fasting timing.
Ramadan is a holy month where utmost care and priority should be given to your oral health.