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CONTINUE DENTAL CARE EVEN WHEN FASTING – EXPERT

13/03/2024 09:33 AM
From Nurqalby Mohd Reda

Is one allowed to undergo dental treatments while fasting? This is a question that often arises among Muslims during the month of Ramadan.

The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) has already issued a clear directive on this matter. According to its guidelines, dental procedures will not invalidate fasting provided the patient does not intentionally swallow any substance during the treatment.

Even oral hygiene practices such as brushing teeth, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash do not nullify fasting so long as no substance is ingested on purpose.

Commenting on this, Universiti Malaya Faculty of Dentistry lecturer Associate Prof Dr Nor Azlida Mohd Nor said Muslims should dismiss the perception that receiving dental treatments during Ramadan will cancel their fast.

 

EXPLAIN CLEARLY

 She said dental practitioners and religious teachers need to provide a better understanding and clearer explanations about undergoing dental treatments during Ramadan, stressing that such procedures do not affect a person’s fasting ritual.

“Jakim itself has already issued guidelines on fasting for (dental) patients but there are still a few Muslims who are confused and hesitant about undergoing dental treatment while fasting.

“In my opinion, dental practitioners can play a role in explaining to their patients that dental procedures do not invalidate their fasting and that these procedures are indeed permissible,” she told Bernama.    

The procedures include fillings, teeth cleaning, root canal treatment, veneer application, and taking X-rays and dental impressions. Treatments that require the use of local anaesthesia, including minor surgeries involving the removal of the wisdom tooth as well as tooth extractions, can also be performed.

“Dental treatments that require anaesthetic injections don’t invalidate fasting because they don’t pass through the (oral) cavity and they don’t reach the open cavity (if it does, it can cause the fast to be cancelled).

“Numbing gel, meanwhile, is used for local applications only. If a patient swallows their own saliva, their fast is not considered broken. However, the fast is cancelled if they intentionally swallow the numbing cream or any substance mixed with their saliva,” explained Dr Nor Azlida.

 

TREATMENT PROCEDURES

She also said while dental practitioners are always attentive and considerate when performing any treatment on fasting individuals, the patients, however, are advised to communicate any discomfort they experience during the treatment process, including signalling their desire to spit when they feel water or fluid accumulating in the mouth.

“There are procedures, such as dental fillings, that use a motorised hand tool that sprays distilled water in the mouth… however, another device is used to suction the water accumulating in the mouth during treatment. Dentists can use two types of suction devices – the regular one or the high-volume suction.

“The dental assistants (at the clinic) also ensure suctioning is done properly to make sure the patient feels comfortable. Therefore, (fasting) patients need not worry as the use of such devices prevents them from inadvertently swallowing water or any substance,” she added.  

She said dentists also have another alternative – that is, the use of a rubber dam – when performing dental filling procedures to avoid the risk of patients swallowing water or feeling any discomfort if water accumulates in the mouth during treatment.

Dr Nor Azlida also pointed out that in the event a complicated procedure has to be performed such as wisdom tooth surgery or placing dental implants, the patients will be categorised as sick and allowed to break their fast.

This is because the procedures in question may likely require patients to take medication such as antibiotics or pain relievers after treatment. In such situations, patients are advised not to refuse treatment on the grounds of wanting to continue fasting.

“Declining treatment not only harms the patient but also prolongs their suffering. If possible, private dental clinics should schedule treatments after iftar (breaking of fast) to make it more convenient for their Muslim patients,” she said.

 

ORAL HYGIENE

 According to Dr Nor Azlida, dental health practices and oral hygiene should not be neglected during Ramadan as the mouth tends to become dry during fasting and can cause unpleasant breath.

“We recommend brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste before going to bed and after sahur (pre-dawn meal) as well as maintaining routine dental care such as flossing and using mouthwash,” she said.

“Eating balanced and nutritious meals and also drinking enough water (during iftar and sahur) are important to avoid dehydration.”

 

Translated by Rema Nambiar

 

 


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