The Miswak – Nature’s Best Toothbrush (Plus Benefits)
Did you know that the Miswak may be the oldest toothbrush on earth? It is believed to have been used more than 7000 years ago, especially in Muslim regions such as North Africa, Central Asia, Horn of Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Caucasus, Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia.
Miswak has remained prominent and relevant in the Arabic culture due to its availability, effectiveness, affordability, and medical properties.
Are there different types of Miswak? Is there any interesting history of Miswak? What exactly are the health benefits of the natural toothbrush? Let’s find out.
History of Miswak
Many archeological studies around the world confirm that the early man has always tried out various oral hygiene measures, such as chewing sticks to clean both the mouth and teeth.
The history of Miswak goes way back to ancient civilizations such as Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations. They invented toothbrushes by finding herbal sticks, fraying their ends, and chewing the ends. These events occurred about 3000 to 3500 B.C, and the twigs used as toothbrushes are what are known as miswaks today.
Before Islam emerged as a religion, people from Arab countries were already using the miswak to keep their teeth shiny and white. Over time, Islamic people gave the miswak an elevated status, as it was believed to enhance ritual purity.
In fact, a lot of Muslims believe that the Arak Miswak is a prophetic recommendation from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The prophet used the Miswak himself and therefore made it popular in the Muslim culture.
The Arak tree (also known as the (salvadora persica tree) is an evergreen tree that is small in size compared to other trees. Due to its therapeutic benefits, the twigs of the Arak tree are the best for making the miswak.
The fibrous branches of the Arak tree have a strong taste as well as an aromatic fragrance. The tree can tolerate harsh weathers such as desert climate, coastal climate, as well as wetlands, thereby making it accessible across different regions of the world.
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The hadith advocates the Miswak to be used in various situations among Muslims. They include:
- Before participating in religious practices
- On Fridays
- Before reciting prayers
- During fasting
- Before embarking on a journey
- When one is feeling thirsty
- During reading holy texts
- Before going to sleep
- After completing a journey successfully
- Before entering a house
- When one is experiencing hunger
- Before joining a gathering
- After waking up
Therefore, Islam has largely contributed to the spread and use of chewing sticks particularly the Miswak in many parts of the world today. Additionally, scientists have found that the Miswak is as effective in cleaning teeth as a toothbrush with toothpaste.
Today, both the modern toothbrush and the traditional Miswak (chewing twigs from the desert Miswak plant Salvadora persica) are frequently used in Arabic and Islamic countries.
Types of Miswaks
There are many types of miswaks that one can use to clean their teeth. Originally, the salvadora persica trees were mainly used to make miswaks.
However, there are other tree alternatives that can be used in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Levant regions.
As long as the tree is not poisonous or hazardous, it can be useful in making miswaks. The other trees suitable for making different types of miswaks include:
- Walnut trees
- Olive trees
- Palm trees
- Peelo trees
- Bitam trees
- Any bitter trees
According to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, there are trees that are not permissible to be used as miswak because they may lead to diseases. Such trees include:
A miswak stick from a bitter or sour tree is always recommended because it rids the mouth of bad odors.
Benefits of Miswak
The miswak wouldn’t have lasted all these centuries in the dental industry if it did not provide some great health benefits to its users.
Miswak contains the following ingredients that allow it to have many benefits to its users:
- Vitamin C
- Alkaloids (trimethylamine and salvadorine)
- Essential oils
Some of the health benefits of miswak include:
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Miswak Gets Rid of Bacteria
The human mouth hosts hundreds of different types of bacteria. However, not all the bacteria in the mouth are bad.
Some of the bacteria are actually vital for maintaining good oral health and assisting in the digestion of food. On the other hand, there may be bacteria in the mouth whose sole aim is to cause erosion and harmful breakdown of the tooth enamel.
The miswak stick has antibacterial effects, which allows it to control the levels of bacteria in the mouth, thereby keeping the good bacteria active and the bad bacteria at bay.
Most studies carried out by WHO (World Health Organization) have shown that individuals who use the miswak stick regularly experience fewer issues related to dental hygiene.
On the other hand, people who use standard dental products experience more oral hygiene issues compared to those who use miswak sticks.
Miswak Can Help Relieve Pain in Gums
Do your gums hurt every time you brush your teeth? If they hurt, then the miswak stick may be just what you need.
Miswak contains an analgesic natural substance that helps to reduce the pain caused by inflammation of gums or untreated gum disease.
The stick will release the analgesic substance in your gum and numb the pain. After this, your gums will be able to heal much more comfortably and faster.
Also, it will allow you to clean your teeth with much ease without wincing from the pain.
Miswak Protects from Plaque
Plaque build-up is one of the common reasons why people visit a dentist. Luckily, one of the best benefits of miswak is protecting the teeth from the buildup of plaque.
When the layers of bacteria covering the gum and teeth over time build-up, they form plaque. If left untreated, plaque can lead to yellowing of teeth, loss of teeth, and gum disease.
Earlier, we mentioned that the miswak stick has antibacterial properties. The antibacterial properties prevent the bacteria from building up into layers that result in plaque.
Although brushing your teeth regularly can help to fight off plaque, normal toothpaste does not have the same natural antibacterial properties as the miswak stick.
Miswak Helps Fight Dental Decay
One of the most well-known benefits of miswak is its ability to fight against tooth decay and cavities. If you eat too many sugary foods, then the miswak may be your best bet against fighting the development of cavities and tooth decay.
When you use the miswak, your mouth produces a lot of salivae, which in turn helps to fight the decaying of teeth naturally. On top of that, the miswak stick contains several natural chemicals that work together to strengthen the enamel of teeth. The natural chemicals include:
- Sodium chloride
- Calcium oxide
- Sodium bicarbonate
The above natural ingredients in the miswak stick make it effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay without using special dental treatments or expensive toothpaste.
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Miswak Fights Bad Breath
Bad breath can cause frustrations, especially in social settings. One of the better benefits of miswak is that it can improve the overall breath of the mouth. Its antibacterial properties allow it to fight off the bad bacteria that cause malodor or halitosis (bad breath).
Although normal toothpaste can also help get rid of bad breath, the results are temporary, because the bad breath will likely return in the course of the day due to the bacteria. The miswak stick on the other hand deals with the problem by eliminating its source, which is the bad bacteria.
However, sometimes the cause of bad breath is not bad bacteria in the mouth, but rather a gum disease or unbalanced diet.
In such cases, the miswak stick is still the best alternative for fighting bad breath. This is because the herbal stick will cause the mouth to generate more saliva, which when mixed with the antibacterial properties of the miswak stick, help to minimize bad breath.
Miswak Helps Prevent Cancer
In addition to all the above benefits of the miswak stick, it can also help keep you from developing cancer. The stick contains natural anti-carcinogenic properties that lower your risk of developing particular types of cancer.
Although there is no proof of its effects in people who already have active cancer, miswak is still recommended to help avoid developing cancer in the first place.
Miswak Helps Whitening of Teeth
The best part about balancing bacteria in the mouth is that it may cause you to have whiter teeth. If you desire to have whiter teeth, then the miswak stick may prove more cost effective and healthier compared to using other oral chemicals to bleach your teeth.
As the miswak stick helps prevent plaque from building up, it also breaks down stains left by tea, coffee, tobacco, and other types of food products. People who do not practice good oral hygiene and take coffee regularly or smoke frequently may have yellow stains in their teeth, and could really use the miswak stick.
Do you have any questions about the miswak stick? We would love to hear from you. Reach out to us today and let us know what we can do for you.