Ramadan Mubarak to all our Muslim patients and faithful around the world. May you be healthy and strong throughout this season of spiritual significance.

For any individual fasting (whatever your reason- regardless of faith), it is very important to know that you need to give attention to your oral health. During fasting periods or lengthy duration without eating any food, the body has very little or no glucose available to use. To get energy, the body begins to use fat stored in the body because glucose (from eating) is unavailable. This usually results in production of ketone bodies- characterized by a mildly unpleasant odor released when someone speaks or breathes out; hence one of the major reasons for bad breath or mouth odor during fasting periods. Of course due to lower saliva flow, the mouth tends to be dry and magnifies any odors coming out.

So what extra measure do you need to take while fasting to ensure you are comfortable and less distracted ? Here are a few tips just for you.

  1. Water is your new best friend. If your fasting permits a drink of water in the course of the day or fasting period, take sips of water intermittently during the day. If your fasting includes abstinence from water, then rinsing your mouth with fresh, plain water every 3-4 hours (for Muslims, this is possible during ablutions for your daily prayers) will go a long way to keep your mouth rehydrated. This will keep your mouth fresh and reduce mouth odour.
  1. Be sugar-wise. I am always amazed (and concerned) how much carbonated drinks are consumed during fasting period. It is a natural phenomenon that due to a lack of glucose for a long time, the body has sugar cravings as your fasting progresses. A lot of people take sweetened carbonated drinks in order to give the boost a quick dose of much needed glucose. Some people take chocolates or sweets to (randomly and in binge quantities) to neutralise this sugar craving. But trust me, one thing you do not want to have during a prolonged fasting period is toothache from cavities or finish the fasting period with more dental cavities than when you started your fast. To supply your body or replenish your glucose stores, take foods containing natural sugars such as dates, sugar cane, and fruits. If you must have a chocolate bar, do it after eating your main meal because it will be less harmful to your teeth at this time and also you would be able to brush shortly after.