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Meswak and Oral Health Care During Ramadan

Maintaining good oral health practices ensures a healthy life of a person
12:00 AM Mar 20, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
meswak and oral health care during ramadan
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Ramadan forms an integral part of our religious life and gets equally enriched with age old traditional and  cultural ethos. In Kashmir, waking people up at Seher by beating drums  to community eating at Iftaari these times immemorial practices in Kashmir add soul to this month.one of the practices that existed in Kashmir countryside was the traditional use and availability of Meswak (chewing stick).people would cut freshly prepared MESWAKS from the traditional VIR (willow tree) and place it on shops ,around the bus stops ,at doorsteps of mosques with a predisposition of earning spiritual rewards and also helping people stay hydrated and keep mouth fee of microbes primarily that develops because of prolonged phases of dryness induced by fasting.

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Meswak, a traditional chewing stick from the traditional stem of salvadora persica, has been used in many parts of the world as natural dentifrice for cleaning teeth .This practice is not only religious and scientific but closely associated with one's culture.

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During Ramadan as one has to abstain from eating through day ,that leads to dehydration exposing oral cavity to microbes so the use of Meswak has shown to possess anti bacterial anti cariogenic and anti plaque properties by enabling you to stay hydrated ,prevent tooth decay and also keep you busy throughout the day hours.

During the month of Ramadan, people associated with diabetes and other systemic diseases often get apprehensive and worried about maintaining their oral health while they are fasting.

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Maintaining good oral hygiene is not only a Physiological but a Psychosocial and religious obligation that forms an essential part of life that needs to be prioritized for overall longevity of life .

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During Fasting hours bad breath (HALITOSIS) is a common problem encountered by people. The use of tongue cleaners, dental floss and interdental brushes to remove the impacted pieces of food after meals is an easy way to get rid of the bad odour.

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In Kashmir, especially at iftar we have a habit of consuming acidic and frizzy juices that softens the enamel layer of teeth leading to erosion and people often complain of sensitivity and withering of teeth surfaces at younger age.

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Thus it's recommended to brush near 30 mins after consumption of such beverages both at sehri and iftar to prevent hypersensitivity and chemical abrasion of teeth.

Similarly consumption of fruits and dates have proven to be good for oral tissue and enamel layer of teeth but care must be taken to eat a handful of 2-4 dates and rinse thoroughly to prevent dental caries.Remember a stitch at times saves nine and the stitch here is a controlled diet and dental brushing .

For Geriatic patients wearing dentures and also Fasting, need to put extra precautions in cleaning their dentures at sehri and iftar to prevent harbouring of bacteria throughout day and need to periodically keep a check on their dentures and if need arises must get them replaced if there is food impaction around the borders of dentures.

Our  holy prophet SAW while highlighting the importance of oral health emphasized and narrated "if i had not found it hard for my followers i would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak after every prayer"(sahih bukhari).

Needless to say that while we boost our spiritual wellbeing it's also essential that we progress towards a healthy lifestyle during this month, and maintaining an active and good oral health practices ensures a healthy life of a person.

BY Dr Tahir Ahmad, MDS, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

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