Photo by [The Guardian Nigeria News]
Islam teaches us that the breath of a fasting person is one of the most beloved scents to God and is akin to the scent of musk. However, in reality, the breath of a fasting person can be pretty unpleasant, not only to others but to themselves.
For this reason, many Muslims are insecure and hesitant to engage in any form of conversation with anyone. Therefore, to combat this issue, special care of oral hygiene is encouraged during this time. Speaking to Salaamedia’s Mariam Mia, dental surgeon Dr Faheema Ismail provides valuable tips on how best to do that.
Do’s and Don’ts of Oral Hygiene in Ramadan
Oral hygiene should be second nature, something which happens unconsciously, naturally and effortlessly. The basic rules to oral hygiene should be general knowledge, which is to brush twice a day, use mouthwash and floss after meals.
Therefore, many opt to brush their teeth before or after the morning meals and right after the evening. Still, no matter how much care is taken, limiting or controlling lousy breath throughout the day is difficult.
In Ramadan, brushing your teeth can be quite a dilemma. Many Muslims fear that any trickle of water might jeopardise their fast. There is also the added responsibility of avoiding inconveniencing people. So, what can we do?
Dr Ismail recommends brushing and flossing after meals, as this has proven effective in limiting bad breath and using the miswak throughout the day. But with using any product such as mouthwash and the miswak, caution is advised not to overdo it. In addition, people should avoid eating foods that cause bad breath.
“As Muslims, our cleanliness is half of Iman. So our oral hygiene plays such an important role. We should revive the sunnah and try to use our miswak. That’s what we can use during the day while we’re fasting.”
South African Communities Lacking Basic Oral Necessities
Numerous schools across the country have invited Dr Ismail as a guest to educate young people on proper oral hygiene or give them career guidance. She said visiting the schools, speaking to the children and seeing the smiles on their faces brings her great joy and satisfaction.
However, some of the communities were underprivileged and lacked basic oral necessities. As heartbreaking as it is, those are the communities she tries to assist the most.
“A simple thing like a toothbrush and toothpaste which we take for granted, a lot of the rural schools that I’ve been to … Can’t even afford [that]. They’re actually sharing it amongst their family members, which for me, is something which shouldn’t be happening. Every person should be entitled to a toothbrush and toothpaste. Unfortunately, I haven’t had sufficient funds to provide for everybody toothbrushes and toothpaste, but wherever I could, I tried to get funds to at least give a few of the areas where I visited these necessities. And just to see them receiving a toothbrush and toothpaste really brought tears to my eyes because it’s something which I also took for granted.”
Dr Ismail’s love for community and helping others stems from visiting her father’s decades-old surgery in Soweto, South of Johannesburg. Her passion for serving communities is something which is engraved in her.
A few years ago, she launched the ‘We Care for Oral Health Campaign in Africa’, where she educates and empowers the youth in underprivileged areas nationwide and across the continent.