How can you get rid of your “plastic smile” and smile confidently when you meet people? Here’s an unusual answer for that question. You can do that by chewing sticks! That’s right!
These “chew sticks” that can help maintain good oral health are called miswak sticks.
What Is Miswak?
The miswak or siwak is a teeth-cleaning twig that has been in use for more than 7000 years. This stick is made from the Salvadora persica tree. Miswak is basically a pencil-sized stick 15 to 20 cm long with a diameter of 1 to 1.5 cm from Arak (Salvadora persica) or the Toothbrush tree. These sticks are popular in many Arabian countries, India, Pakistan, and parts of Africa.
But, in areas where it 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 a teeth-cleaning aid.
Despite the widespread use of miswak since ancient times, very little scientific attention has been paid to its oral health beneficial effects.
Benefits Of Miswak
Studies have shown that the use of miswak sticks is more beneficial for oral hygiene than the use of toothbrushes. It was proved that the correct use of miswak was more effective than toothbrushing for reducing the plaque and gingivitis.1
1. Possesses Variety Of Natural Components
Miswak is composed of different components. These include silica, tannic acid, resins, sodium bicarbonate, alkaloids, essential oils, vitamin C, calcium, and fluoride.2 These components have their own unique functions that make miswak useful.
- Silica acts as an abrasive material that removes stains and deposits from the tooth surface.
- Sodium bicarbonate has mild abrasive and germicidal effects.
- Tannic acid has an astringent effect on the mucous membrane.
- Resins serve a physical function and form a layer over the enamel which protects it from microbial action.
- Alkaloids show bactericidal effects and stimulate the gingiva.
- Essential oils have antiseptic effects and stimulate the flow of saliva.
- Vitamin C helps in healing and repair.
- Calcium and fluoride ions promote remineralization of tooth structure and have mild antibacterial action.
2. Fights Effectively Against Plaque
Miswak has substances that possess plaque inhibiting and antibacterial properties against several types of cariogenic bacteria that are frequently found in the oral cavity. Thus, the growth and production of this bacteria are inhibited.3
3. Prevents Gum Disease
The use of miswak not only fights plaque but also prevents gum diseases. The alkaloids present in miswak exerts a bactericidal effect and stimulatory action on the gingiva. It can reduce gingival inflammation.
4. Promotes Whiter Teeth
The presence of silica is one of the reasons why using miswak can make teeth whiter. Silica acts as an abrasive material to remove stains from the teeth, making it whiter. The resins found in miswak form a protective layer around the enamel and protects against caries.4
How To Use Miswak
- Chew the bark off of one end of the twig – Chew one end of the twig and stop when you have exposed about half an inch of the wood underneath. Spit out the bark.
- Chew the center until it turns soft and forms bristles – Start chewing on the wood that you have exposed. Make it soft so that it forms fibrous bristles.
- Soak the tip in water – Ideally, miswak is not used with toothpaste or any other dental products, although you may use them if you like. Traditionally, you can just dip the bristle end of the twig in water so that the miswak is not dried completely.
- Hold the miswak twig with your thumb and brush – Hold the miswak stick with your thumb underneath it and brush your teeth by gently moving the bristle end up and down, scrubbing the surface. Do not apply extra pressure.
- Cut off bristles after every few days – Make sure you cut the bristles off once they are worn out with a knife or with your bare hands.
So, now that you know the benefits of miswak and how to use it, why don’t you give it a try and spread the word with your smile!
|↑1||Al‐Otaibi, M., M. Al‐Harthy, A. Gustafsson, Anders Johansson, Rolf Claesson, and B. Angmar‐Månsson. “Subgingival plaque microbiota in Saudi Arabians after use of miswak chewing stick and toothbrush.” Journal of clinical periodontology 31, no. 12 (2004): 1048-1053.|
|↑2||Dahiya, Parveen, Reet Kamal, R. P. Luthra, Rahul Mishra, and Gaurav Saini. “Miswak: A periodontist’s perspective.” (2012).|
|↑3||Almas, Khalid, and Zuhair Al-Zeid. “The immediate antimicrobial effect of a toothbrush and miswak on cariogenic bacteria: a clinical study.” The journal of contemporary dental practice 5, no. 1 (2004): 105-114.|
|↑4||Al Sadhan, Ra’ed I., and Khalid Almas. “Miswak (chewing stick): a cultural and scientific heritage.” Saudi Dental Journal 11, no. 2 (1999): 80-87.|