Oral Care

How fasting affects your oral health

While fasting can have health and spiritual benefits, it can also have an impact on your oral health. When you’re not eating or drinking, your mouth produces less saliva, which can lead to bad breath and other oral health problems. Here’s expert advice on what you can do to maintain a healthy mouth and fresh breath when you fast. Saliva is your natural ‘mouthwash’. It helps wash food and plaque from the mouth and contains antibacterial agents. Fasting reduces the amount of saliva you produce. As the mouth becomes drier the bacteria that cause bad breath flourish.

Limiting water intake during the day exacerbates the problem as dead cells, plaque and debris is not being rinsed away. Fasting can also cause ketosis, when your body begins to break down fat cells for energy which releases ketones which can also make breath smell.

Bad breath is a common concern for people who fast, but there are simple steps you can take to combat the problem. Dirna Grobbelaar, our oral hygiene advisor, and a member of the Oral Hygienists Association of South Africa (OHASA) share expert tips to maintain a healthy mouth and fresh breath when you fast:

  1. Brush your teeth correctly at least twice a day: Gently brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes before fasting begins and after, to remove food debris and plaque.
  2. Clean between the teeth: Use floss or interdental brushes to remove plaque and food trapped between your teeth. Not sure which to use? Here’s expert guidance.
  3. Clean your tongue: The tongue is one of the most common sources of bad breath. Gently use a GUM Tongue Scraper to remove food debris or bacteria on the tongue.
  4. Use alcohol-free mouthwash: Alcohol will further dry out the mouth, so use an alcohol-free mouthwash. Dentyl Dual Action is ideal because it contains antibacterial CPC and essential oils that hydrate and soothe while providing superior plaque-fighting capabilities. Rinsing with Dentyl has been shown to freshen breath for up to 12 hours.
  5. Avoid ‘smelly’ foods: When breaking your fast, avoid foods that are known to make the breath smell like onions and garlic.
  6. Drink plenty of water before and after your fast: During non-fasting hours, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Aim to drink at least 8-10 cups of water a day.
  7. Limit caffeine and sugary drinks: Try to avoid caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee during non-fasting hours as they have diuretic effects, which can lead to dehydration. Sugary drinks can also contribute to bad breath by promoting bacterial growth in the mouth. Instead, opt for water or herbal teas.
  8. Avoid smoking: Whether you fast or not, smoking will make your breath smell unpleasant. It can also lead to gum disease and other oral health problems.

If you are planning to fast, remember your oral hygiene is a priority. If you have any concerns or questions about your oral health consult your dentist or oral hygienist.

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