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 fast every day from early dawn to sunset. All physically, mentally healthy and mature Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and all other physical needs.
When it comes to oral hygiene and dental treatments, what should dental providers and fasting patients know about Ramadan?
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.
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.
What are your advice on oral hygiene for people who are fasting? Can they still brush, floss and use mouthwash as usual?
Toothpastes are 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.
Mouthwashes are commonly prescribed by dentists as an adjunct to oral hygiene. Some patients may be reluctant to use mouth wash for fear of unintentionally swallowing some. If this is the case, you can use it outside fasting hours as advised by your dentist.
Will dental treatments/procedures and administration of an aesthetic (injections) nullify 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.
Are there dental procedures that should be postponed by fasting patients if the treatment dates fall on Ramadan?
Dental treatments and preventative procedure (including restorations, scaling and extractions) do not invalidate the fast, but some patients are unwilling to have procedures done due to difference 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 on 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 to harm and is life-threatening, it’s allowable to break the fast.
When a dental problem occur during the holy month of Ramadan and medications are needed, you can discuss with your dentist. He or she may be able to adapt your medications and/or the dosage.
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 baking. 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.