Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
Are you allowed to brush your teeth when fasting? If not, how do you get rid of bad breath so people are not uncomfortable around you?
Thank you/ Jazākumullāhu Khayran for your question. May Almighty Allāh accept your fasting.
Brushing the Teeth in General While Fasting
Brushing the teeth during fasting is permissible and an established practice of the Prophet Muḥammed (peace and blessings upon him).
Rabī’ah (may Allāh be pleased with him) states, “I seen the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) on countless occasions, brushing his teeth with the siwāk (tooth stick), while he was in the state of fasting” (Tirmidhī)
‘Abd Al Raḥmān Ibn Ghanam (may Allāh’s mercy be upon him) says, “I asked Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal (may Allāh be pleased with him), ‘Shall I brush my teeth while in the state of fasting?”, He replied, “Yes”. I asked, “Which time of the day?”, He replied, “Throughout the day.”, I objected, “The people dislike brushing the teeth during the day and they say the Messenger of Allāh said, ‘The smell emanating from the mouth of the one fasting is better with Allāh then the smell of musk.’” Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal then said, “Subḥān Allāh (Glory be to the Alimighty), the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) instructed people to brush the teeth, and it is not from the command of the Prophet that people deliberately leave their mouths dry (and filthy). There is no goodness whatsoever in that but in fact there is bad in it.” (Ṭabrānī, Talkhīs)
Brushing With Tooth Paste
Brushing the teeth with toothpaste would also be permissible with the condition that, the tooth paste and its remanence are not swallowed. Some contemporary scholars have listed the brushing of the teeth with tooth paste, as a ‘makrūh’ (disliked) action, due to the fact that it is very difficult to avoid the lasting taste that remains after brushing.
Swallowing tooth paste or its taste while in the state of fasting would invalidate the fast.
Ibn Abbās (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Ikramah (may Allāh be pleased with him) have stated “The fast is invalidated by what enters the internal stomach cavity.” (Bukhari)
My humble suggestions, to rid any offensive odour of the mouth, are one of the following:
- Brush your teeth with tooth paste just before the beginning time of the fast, at dawn, after the suhūr (pre-dawn meal).
- Use the sunnah siwāk (tooth stick) without tooth paste throughout the day.
- Use the toothbrush during the day, with very little tooth paste applied on the toothbrush. Ensure the mouth is rinsed properly thereafter, so no remanence or taste of the paste is swallowed.
The Prophet of Islam, Moḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) has stated, “Were it not for the hardship that I would be placing upon my people, I would have ordered them to engage in siwāk for every prayer.” (Bukhārī and Muslim)
And Allāh Knows Best