How to tackle bad breath while fasting
Ramadan is the most blessed month of the year for Muslims, it’s a great opportunity to detox and cleanse our body spiritually and physically.
As we are abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset throughout the month of Ramadan, many people ask the question, “how can I prevent bad breath in Ramadan?” This is medically known as halitosis, a term used to describe an unpleasant odour exhaled through the mouth. Bad breath can lead to a decrease in self-confidence in social and intimate relations.
Bad Breath Fixes
The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him said: ” By the one in Whose Hand my soul is, the breath of the fasting person is more pleasant with Allah than the smell of musk.”
This narration exemplifies the blessing of fasting and that the breath of a fasting person is pleasing to God. However we must keep in mind that we have the responsibility of taking care of our health and nourishing our body.
How do we get bad breath?
Bad breath is predominantly caused by bacteria breaking down food that is left in your mouth. These bacterias release foul-smelling gases. There’s usually a large build up of these bacterias on top, to the back or underneath your tongue and in between your teeth. Other areas that lead to bad breath is bacteria in your gut!
Secondly, saliva is a natural antibacterial agent in our mouth and it helps eliminate bacteria and food from your mouth. When you are fasting from food and water, your flow of saliva is significantly reduced if you are dehydrated. This leads to dry mouth and bacteria flourish under under these circumstances. This explains why your breath smells in the morning, especially if you sleep with your mouth open. Hence it’s very important to floss and brush your teeth before you sleep.
How do we prevent bad breath while fasting?
1. Maintain good oral hygiene
Floss and brushing your teeth before you sleep and after you finish Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) to make sure no food is stuck between your teeth. Food that is stuck between your teeth is broken down by bacteria which releases a bad smell.
You can also maintain good oral hygiene throughout the day by using a miswak (also known as a sewak) which is a twig from a branch of the Salvadora persica tree, also known as the arak tree.
Benefits of the Miswak
- Kills bacteria that causes gum-disease.
- Fights plaque effectively.
- Fights against cavities.
- Removes bad breath and odors from the mouth.
- Creates a pleasant fragrance in the mouth.
- Effectively cleans between teeth due to its bristles being parallel to the handle, rather than perpendicular, which results in effective cleaning between the teeth.
- Increases salivation, thereby inhibiting dry mouth.
An investigation of whole miswak pieces embedded in a petri dish or suspended above the petri dish were able to kill bacteria that caused dental gum diseases .
The Wrigley Company conducted a study on the Miswak which was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2007 . Wrigley’s research concluded that mints laced with Miswak extract were 20 times more effective in killing bacteria than ordinary mints. After half an hour, the mints laced with Miswak extract killed about 60% of the bacteria where as the ordinary mints managed only 3.6%.
With its strong antibacterial properties and perpendicular bristles, the Miswak is a natural toothbrush, toothpaste and floss combined.
2. Stay hydrated!
It’s important to drink plenty of fluids in the hours when you are not fasting such as water, hibiscus tea and peppermint tea. Avoid too much coffee as it can dehydrate you, especially at suhoor (pre-dawn meal time).
Assist with intestinal health and increases the good bacteria in the gut. By assisting with your intestinal health, probiotics can be used to treat bad breath. When we eat processed and refined foods, it decreases the healthy bacteria in the gut so it’s important to nourish our body with good bacteria. Some examples of probiotics include: Live cultured yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi or simply taking one probiotic a day.
4. Organic coconut oil pulling
Coconut oil pulling is one of the best ways to remove bacteria, promote healthy teeth and gums and naturally whitens teeth. Oil pulling has been shown to be as effective as mouthwash at improving bad breath and reducing the microorganisms that may cause it .
How to do coconut oil pulling:
1. Make sure to oil pull either before you sleep or after you have finished suhoor (pre-dawn meal). This has to be done before you brush your teeth
2. Gently swish 1–2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth and between your teeth for 10–15 minutes. Make sure you don’t swallow any of the oil and do this gently or your jaw and cheeks will let you know you’ve swished a little too hard!
3. Spit out the oil in the trash, not the sink so it doesn’t clog up the plumbing and immediately rinse your mouth out with warm water. You can use salt water for added antimicrobial properties.
4. Finally, brush your teeth as normal and you’re done!
We would recommend oil pulling three to four times per week with coconut oil. It’s a great way to detox your mouth in Ramadan!
All the best with taking on these top tips to tackling bad breath this Ramadan. Remember that Ramadan is a month of fasting and abstaining from bad eating habits, may we make the most of this blessed opportunity!
1. Sofrata et al., 2008. Strong antibacterial effect of miswak against oral microorganisms associated with periodontitis and caries. J Periodontol., 79 (8) (2008), pp. 1474-1479
2. Asokan 2011. Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, India.
As we are abstaining from food and water from sunrise to sunset throughout the month of Ramadan, many people ask the question, “how can I prevent bad breath while im fasting?”
It’s important to first understand what causes bad breath first before we discuss solutions.
Number one cause is, if you have food stuck between your teeth, bacteria will break that food down, releasing unpleasant gases
And number 2 when you’re dehydrated the flow of saliva reduces, this leads to a build of bacteria in your mouth, causing a bad smell. This explains morning breath, especially if you sleep with your mouth open
1. Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth before you sleep and when you finish your suhoor or pre dawn meal. Another way prophet muhammad peace be upon him maintained good oral hygiene is by using the meswak twig.
Did you know, In 2008, they did a study where they hovered pieces of meswak just above a petri dish and they noticed it killed the bacteria that caused gum disease without physically being in contact with the bacteria. Now how cool is that!
2. Stay hydrated! Make sure to drink plenty of water from the time you break your fast till suhoor. And an excellent indicator is the colour of your urine, it should be a light colour and it shouldn’t be smelly!
For the coffee lovers out there, avoid too much coffee at suhoor as it will dehydrate you throughout the day
3. When we eat processed and refined foods it decreases the amount of healthy bacteria and increases the bad bacteria in our guts leading to bad breath!
So taking Probiotics will assist with the health of our guts. Some examples of probiotics include: Live cultured yogurt, kefir, kimchi or simply visit your local pharmacist who can prescribe you with a probiotic to take.
4. Organic coconut oil pulling is a great way to remove bacteria in your mouth causing bad breath and it also whitens your teeth! Simply take one teaspoon of organic coconut oil after you finish your Suhoor meal and gently swish it in your mouth for 10-15 minutes. Spit it out, brush your teeth and you’re done!