Bad breath is a particularly relevant issue for Muslims around the time of Ramadan due to the fasting required during daylight hours. The causes of bad breath, or halitosis, are wide ranging and can be dealt with in a variety of ways. The Koran, the Hadith, and other Islamic writings give some suggestions as to what the devout Muslim should do to combat this common problem.
The Koran has several references to oral hygiene, with many passages recommending the use of a "miswak." A miswak is made from cutting the root of the arrack tree and soaking it in water. Once the root has soaked for several hours it is scraped and chewed on to produce a fibrous ending, not unlike modern toothbrushes. Mohammad, the founder of Islam, used the miswak to sweeten his breath during fasting, according to saudiaramcoworld.com. This is still done in Arabia today.
During the period in which Muslims controlled the Iberian Peninsula, a man by the name of Al-Zahrawi (sometimes referred to as "Albucassis") wrote an influential work on cosmetics. If bad breath was the result of eating strong foods like onions and garlic, Al-Zahrawi prescribed nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, or chewing on coriander leaves. He also wrote that you could solve the problem by eating cheese that had been seasoned with powdered cloves and fried in olive oil.
There may be two main causes for halitosis during Ramadan: systemic and local causes. Systemic causes include things like smoking, disease, or an upset stomach, which cannot be dealt with easily. Local causes such as poor hygiene, cavities and gum disease, however, can be dealt with by a more rigorous oral hygiene regimen. Some suggestions to deal with bad breath include brushing the teeth after every meal, flossing, using antibacterial mouthwash, and drinking up to three glasses of water in the morning.
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