Causes and Ways to Overcome Bad Breath When Fasting

Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk. However, for some people, fasting can cause oral health problems, one of which is bad breath. This can be very annoying, but by knowing the cause and taking the necessary measures to address it, you can maintain your oral health during Ramadan.

Causes of Bad Breath When Fasting

  1. Dehydration as the Main Cause of Bad Breath

During fasting, the body loses a lot of fluids through breathing and sweat. One of the main causes of bad breath when fasting is dehydration, because dry mouth reduces the production of saliva, which functions as a natural protector against bacteria. As a result, bacteria reproduce more quickly, producing smelly compounds.

  1. Changes in Diet and Their Effect on Gastric Acid Production

A person's eating pattern will change significantly during the fasting month. When breaking the fast, people may consume a lot of food and drink. This may include fatty, spicy, or sour foods. Foods like this can cause stomach acid to increase. Increased stomach acid can cause bad breath, especially if not treated properly.

  1. Lack of attention to oral hygiene, including brushing teeth and cleaning the tongue

Bad breath when fasting can also be caused by a lack of habit of cleaning your tongue and brushing your teeth regularly. Bacteria grow in food debris on the surface of the tongue and between the teeth. These bacteria can produce odorous compounds that cause bad breath if not cleaned properly.

  1. Consuming Certain Foods That Can Increase Bad Smells in Your Breath

Some foods commonly consumed when breaking the fast, such as garlic, shallots and other strongly spiced foods, contain sulfur compounds that can be absorbed by the bloodstream and excreted through the lungs, causing a long-lasting unpleasant breath odor. Eating foods like this during fasting can cause bad breath.

The first step in dealing with bad breath while fasting is understanding the cause. By understanding the underlying causes, people can take preventive measures to maintain a healthy mouth during the holy month of Ramadan.

How to Overcome Bad Breath when Fasting

  1. Maintain Fluid Balance

It is important to drink sufficient amounts of water during breaking the fast and sahur so that the body remains hydrated. Water helps maintain sufficient saliva production to avoid dry mouth. Avoid drinks that can cause dehydration such as coffee, caffeinated tea, and carbonated drinks which can increase body fluid loss.

  1. Healthy Eating Patterns

Choose foods that are lighter and easier to digest when breaking the fast to prevent excessive stress on the digestive system which can increase stomach acid production. Avoid foods that can increase stomach acid production, such as fatty, spicy or strongly spiced foods which can worsen bad breath.

  1. Pay Attention to Oral Hygiene

Brush your teeth regularly, at least twice a day, especially after sahur and before going to bed at night, to remove food debris and plaque which can cause bad breath. Clean your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue cleaner to remove bad breath-causing bacteria that accumulate on the surface of your tongue.

  1. Use Mouthwash

Choose an antibacterial mouthwash that contains active ingredients such as chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride to help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth and keep breath fresh. Use mouthwash regularly after brushing your teeth to provide additional protection against bad breath.

  1. Avoid foods that can trigger bad breath

Limit consumption of foods that contain sulfur compounds such as garlic, onions, and other strongly spiced foods that can increase the unpleasant odor in your breath. Choose alternative foods that are lighter and do not contain sulfur compounds to reduce the risk of bad breath when fasting.

  1. Consult a Dentist

If your bad breath persists despite trying the steps above, consult a dentist to see if there is an underlying oral health problem.

Following the steps above can help you maintain oral health and comfort during Ramadan and reduce or even eliminate the problem of bad breath during fasting.


By paying attention to your diet and good oral hygiene, you can overcome bad breath while fasting and maintain your oral health during the month of Ramadan. Stay hydrated, pay attention to your diet, and diligently maintain your oral hygiene to experience the benefits of fasting without experiencing oral health problems.

Article written by drg. Mona Friska Sitohang (Dentist at EMC Cibitung Hospital).