Dental hygiene is one of the foundations for good health. Bacteria in the teeth and gums can eventually make its way down into other organs of the body and cause all types of dis-ease. Humans have long known about the importance of dental health, and have come up with some pretty useful methods to keep the mouth sanitary and free of bacteria. One of these methods is the miswak stick.
Miswak is a pencil-sized stick 15 to 20 cm long with a diameter of 1 to 1.5 cm. It is believed miswak stick use dates back 7000 years in India, Pakistan, most of the Arabian countries, and some African countries. The stick is derived from the roots and branches of Salvadora persica tree, also known as the Arak tree. The berries and leaves of the Salvadora persica are also known to contain medicinal properties. In areas where the tree is not available, sticks from other local shrubs/trees like orange (Citrus sinensis), lime (Citrus aurantifolia), and neem (Azadirachta indica) can also be used as teeth-cleaning aids.
Most of the studies paralleling the miswak versus a toothbrush have shown a superior or comparable effect of miswak over toothbrushes (the toothbrush was first patented in 1887, and has not changed significantly from the original design). Miswak has shown the ability to strengthen the gums, prevent tooth decay, halt further decay that has already set in, and eliminate toothaches. In addition to this, miswak is reported to created a fragrance in the mouth, eliminate bad breath, and improve taste-bud sensitivity.
So if you prefer the holistic approach, go ahead and give the miswak a try. It is 100% biodegradable and does not require water or toothpaste. As miswak is currently being sold and packaged with the same branding as toothbrushes, complete with carry cases and other accessories, this ancient practice of dental hygiene may be reestablishing itself as the go-to method for a fresh, clean, bacteria- free mouth.