Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer and reflection. Ramadan 2021 began in the evening of Tuesday 13th April and ends in the evening of Wednesday 12th May. According to the teachings in Islam, the fasting during this month is considered as one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims do not consume food and water between sunrise to sunset. During this month, Muslims consume a pre-dawn meal called Suhur, and break their fast by having Iftar. But how do you care for your dental health if you are fasting?
- Brush your teeth 30 minutes after Suhur and Iftar:
These meals are very important meals taken at dawn and at night respectively. In view of this, one must endeavour to brush the teeth about half an hour after eating. After having a meal, there is an increase in the acidity in your mouth and it takes about 30 minutes for the saliva in your mouth to neutralize this. Brushing immediately disrupts this process and you may end up brushing these acids all over your teeth and this will cause teeth wear. Since timing is of the essence during fasting, one must incorporate this into the schedule so as to reduce the chances of this happening.
- Use miswak:
Miswak is a slim root harvested from the arak tree (Salvadora persica) and it has been used as a tooth cleaning aid before the introduction of the toothbrush and toothpaste. It is also known to have anti-bacterial properties. Miswak can be used during the daytime when fasting and it helps to clean the teeth as well as freshen up the breath. To prepare miswak for use, commence by washing it under running water, and peel off about two centimeters of the bark-like outer layer. To make it softer, you can soak it in water. Many people also chew the miswak until the fibers separate.
- Drink plenty of water at Suhur and Iftar:
It is important to drink a lot of water during Iftar and Suhur to keep you hydrated and also to keep your mouth moist. Eating water-based vegetables such as cucumbers and lettuce offer a high fiber content for mastication and provide adequate hydration to your mouth and body as a whole. Salty foods should be avoided since they increase sodium levels in the body and lead to dehydration.
- Cut down on coffee and other caffeinated drinks:
Stay away from coffee, tea and energy drinks during this period. They lead to dry mouth, sleep problems and make you more thirsty during the fast. Dry mouth is a contributing factor to bad breath (halitosis). Limiting these caffeinated drinks at Iftar and Suhur will go a long way to help you fast without experiencing the aforementioned problems.
- Floss and clean your tongue with a tongue scraper to prevent bad breath:
Flossing is an integral oral care practice which helps to remove food residues and plaque deposits in between the teeth. Did you know that you miss about 35% of the surfaces of the teeth if you brush your teeth and you do not floss? The dental floss is available as the regular floss, floss pick and water floss. You can decide to use any of them depending on your manual dexterity. You should also use a tongue scraper to scrape coatings off your tongue at least twice daily because the tongue is known to harbour a lot of germs which cause bad breath.
If you happen to have any dental emergency during Ramadan, please do not hesitate to see your dentist before it worsens. There are clear exemptions from fasting, and being unwell is one of them. Ramadan Kareem!
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Credit: Dr Michael Awua-Mensah
(@Dr_Awua on Instagram)
Dentoc Dental Clinic
Adjiringanor (East Legon)
A member of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA)