Rulings on aspects of work of dental hygienist
Fatwa No: 348787

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu, Shaykh. Praise be to Allaah, I am a dental hygienist who left the practice, but I have questions regarding that job in case I wish to return to it in future. So I want to know if it is correct for a Muslim or not. In dental clinics, there are products which contain alcohol, like disinfectants (used to clean dental clinic surfaces and the patients' chair) and mouthwash. We also use disclosing tablets, fluoride treatment materials, polishing pastes and other materials in different procedures, and these might contain haram or harmful ingredients, and Allaah knows best. Hence, can I do such a job in which I may have to use such products to clean clinic or dental instruments or operate on patients and use products that I may have to give to patients for use in the clinic and their for home (like mouthwash) while these are not suitable for Muslims? If I work in a clinic, the organization decides and gives materials to use; my suggestion/choice may not be considered. I have the opinion that alcohol is not impure; however, ethanol must be avoided as the skin absorbs it, and I avoid toxic alcohols, praise be to Allaah. Also, if in Ramadan, a Muslim woman comes to get her teeth cleaned while she is fasting, will I be sinful if I do so while she is fasting? Blood will most probably enter her throat, and bleeding always takes place while doing this. Please also note that, being a Muslim woman, I definitely do not wish to be operated on by a male dental hygienist tor my tooth cleaning; hence, if there are no women who practice, then Muslim women may have to go to male dental hygienist to get their teeth cleaned. And is it permissible to work in a hospital in which both male and female doctors work but that I treat female patients only? Please advise, Shaykh. May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

Your question includes several matters:

The first matter: The ruling on using substances that contain some alcohol: Alcohol is the substance that causes intoxication in wine, so it is forbidden to use what contains alcohol unless this alcohol is transformed in a manner that no trace of it remains.

The resolution of the Islamic Fiqh Council reads, “It is permissible to use medicine containing a percentage of alcohol that dissolves and which is important for the medical industry while there is no alternative for it, provided that it is prescribed by a trustworthy doctor. It is also permissible to use alcohol as an antiseptic for external body wounds, as a bacteria killer, and in creams and lotions for external use.

The same thing applies to cases in which the alcohol is not transformed but there is a necessity or a dire need for the use of this medicine while there is no other alternative medicine; in this case it is permissible to use it.

Nasri Raashid Qaasim said in his book Al-Mustakhlas min An-Najas wa Hukmuh, “If making certain medications depends on mixing it with some alcohol and the specialist in making the medications said that alcohol must be mixed with this medication and there is no other medication that serves the same purpose, then being treated with this medication in this case is permissible or even a necessity.

The second matter: the ruling on using something that causes harm: the basic principle is that harm is forbidden; Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “There should be no harm nor reciprocal harm.” [Ahmad]

This is when harm is a certainty or when one predominantly thinks that there is harm. However, if there is doubt, then this is not taken into account because it does not exist in principle. And if there is harm but there is a preponderant benefit, then this harm is not taken into account.

Al-'Izz ibn 'Abdus-Salaam said in Qawaa’id Al-Ahkaam, “If it is not possible to avoid the harm and attain the benefit at the same time, then if the harm is greater than the benefit, we repel the harm and do not care about missing the benefit … but if the benefit is greater than the harm, then we work to achieve the benefit while bearing the harm.

The third matter: The ruling on working in a place where there is mixing between men and women. We have already explained its ruling and conditions in fatwas 83953 and 82399, so please refer to them.

Allah knows best.

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