Have you ever watched a documentary on tv about tribes living in the bush, and wondered to yourself how in the world these people keep such healthy white teeth? I’m sure I’m not the only one out there thinking these things, right?! And did you happen to notice the people casually chewing on sticks? Chances are, they may be using something called a Miswak (also known as Siwak), or “chewing sticks”.
I first learned about Miswak sticks from a friend of mine who’s from Egypt. After looking them up online, I was quickly impressed with the oral health benefits this natural toothbrush boasts. Study after study has shown that those who use the Miswak chewing sticks vs. those who use modern toothbrushes and toothpaste, have significantly healthier gums, less plaque and gingivitis, and have overall better oral health.
I don’t know about you, but I think this is awesome! No chemicals, no toothpaste, just a stick! How good is our Creator that He would provide us with such an amazing little thing to keep our mouths healthy?
So where does this twig come from, anyways? Well, the Miswak traditionally comes from either the branches or the roots of the Peelu Tree (or Arak tree). Although this is the most recommended source for making Miswaks, you can also make them from olive trees, and walnut trees. I have also read that over 300 species of trees and shrubs are used in East Africa for making chewing sticks, so it isn’t necessarily variety specific. (Though, you do have to be careful not to use a poisonous plant!)
Here are a few proven benefits of using a Miswak:
- It kills the bacteria which causes gum disease
- Fights plaque better than traditional toothpaste
- Leads to fewer cavities
- Freshens breath; kills odor causing bacteria
- Whitens teeth naturally
- Effectively cleans between teeth better than regular toothbrushes
- Contains natural flouride
- Also great for those who want to stop smoking!
- Safe for toddlers; safe to swallow
How to use a Miswak:
First, peel or chew the bark off about 1/2 inch from the end of the stick. Chew the wood on the end until the fibers begin to separate. Then brush your teeth with this fibrous end as you would a regular toothbrush (minus the toothpaste). As the brush end gets dirty or begins to come apart, break off or cut the end and start with a fresh tip. No need for water, though you should wash the end of the brush when finished if possible. You can also soak it in rosewater to cleanse.
Not only is it healthier, natural, and better for the environment, Miswak sticks can save you money too! This simple twig can replace your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouth wash, and teeth whitening products!!
Where can you buy Miswak? Unfortunately, they aren’t easy to find here in the US, but you can order them online. Amazon carries Miswak sticks (you can also get free shipping!), which is where I ordered mine from. If you have an Arabic store in your area, you might see if they carry them. Some Muslims use a Miswak as a part of their religion, so you may be able to find them locally if you know where to look.
What Does Miswak Taste Like?
I must admit, the flavor of the particular Miswak I purchased is not that great. It tastes musty… like a musty mushroom. I don’t like mushrooms, so it’s not exactly something I enjoy chewing on. Maybe I’ll get used to the flavor over time? I’d definitely be interested in trying other types of chewing sticks.
I keep threatening (in my mind only) to have my little girl use a Miswak the next time she chews her brand new toothbrush to frays. With a Miswak chewing and fraying is perfect! We’ll see how that goes over. Regardless of the earthy flavor, I still love the idea of sustainable toothbrushes.
Now… if only I could grow my own Miswak tree, along with the Soap Berry Tree I’d still love to plant! We do have a few black walnut trees on our land… hmmmm, think that would work?
Here are a couple of scientific studies on the effects of using these chewing sticks, for those of you who are interested:
Have you ever tried a chewing stick? Do you know of a good source for natural (stick) toothbrushes?
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.