Fears regarding ways of maintaining good oral hygiene and dental care during the fasting month of Ramadan increases due to the long duration of fasting during the day, which usually reaches up to 15 hours and affects the health of the mouth and teeth. Methods of oral and dental care do not differ much from other months; however, there are important issues that should be taken into account during the holy month to comply with the rules of fasting in Ramadan and to keep pace with the changes the body undergoes during the period of fasting.
In an interview with Dr. Rania Al-Haridi, dentist and scientific program manager of AEEDC Conference & Exhibition, she spoke to us about the best ways to take care of your oral health and teeth in Ramadan and the need to visit a dentist in this holy month like the other months of the year. Dr. Al-Haridi said: “First of all, I would like to congratulate all Muslims for the commencement of Ramadan, may God shower us with his blessings in this holy month. During the month of Ramadan, one should consider the fact that the body stays refrained from food and water for a long period of time, which causes lower saliva secretion in the mouth. Saliva plays an important role in cleansing the teeth and getting rid of bacteria. Lack of saliva in the mouth, accompanied with bacteria formation due to it; allow the formation of a white layer above the tongue that shields anaerobic bacteria underneath, creating an unpleasant odor. Therefore, a visit to the dentist is obligatory during the month of Ramadan when needed, just like any other month of the year.”
Dr. Rania went on saying: “Nevertheless, we find that most of the people avoid visiting dental clinics during their fasting hours, as statistics had showed number of patients visiting dental clinics after Iftar is much higher than those visiting during the day and this is due to the fear of breaking their fast inadvertently during the treatment.”
In this context, Dr. Al-Haridi commented: “Visiting the dentist during the fasting hours doesn’t necessarily break your fast if precautions are taken and no liquid is swallowed. Nowadays, precautions can be taken by highly improved medical suction devices which work on getting rid of any liquids, saliva, or blood during the treatment.”
Dr. Al-Haridi completed by saying: “With regard to the process of tooth extraction, suction plays an important role in the disposal of fluids, but in certain cases, complications might arise leading to severe bleeding; therefore, it will be preferable for these cases to postpone the treatment till after Iftar.”
“On the other hand, regarding anesthetic needles used during treatment sessions, patients should note that these kind of needle injections would not break the fast as it is given in the muscle and
not in the blood vessels and thus are not considered nutritious and won’t enter the blood circulation. Patients shouldn’t also swallow any components of dental fillings, since many of them contain aromatic materials and ones with distinctive taste like the ‘cloves’.
When asked about cosmetic treatments Dr. Al-Haridi replied: “Cosmetic treatments such as installing faceted ceramic, tooth whitening, and preventive treatments like cleaning are all preferably postponed to after Iftar because these kind of treatments are totally dependent on water and aren’t usually very urgent.”
On the other hand, Muslim clerics at General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments (GAIAE) in the United Arab Emirates commented about the same topic saying that visiting the dentist during the fasting hours is acceptable, as long as no fluids are swallowed; however, if the dental treatment is not really urgent then the visit is preferable to be postponed till after Iftar.
In conclusion, Dr. Rania shared with us a list of her own tips for a brighter smile in the holy month of Ramadan.
Tips for oral healthcare during the month of Ramadan:
• Brush your teeth twice a day, after Iftar and Suhoor. You can brush your teeth during the day without any toothpaste, provided you don’t swallow anything.
• Use meswak, which is known for its several benefits such as the fluoride and several herbal components that kill the bad bacteria.
• Use the mouthwash for a good breath twice a day, preferably after Iftar.
• Clean your tongue by its special brush twice daily.
• Drink plenty of fluids before Suhoor to preserve the moisture of the mouth preventing unpleasant odor.