There is a very old and effective way of cleaning your teeth: dental sticks from a tree (Salvadora persica) called miswak (or siwak). Miswak sticks are used since thousands of years, are natural, and have antibacterial properties. They are still very popular throughout the Islamic world. Miswak sticks come as chewing sticks and as dental sticks.
Miswak dental sticks can be used to clean the teeth, as well as plaque in the interdental space. Traditional miswak dental sticks have softened bristles on either end. They are natural toothbrushes. Usually the roots of the Salvadora persica tree are used, because they can retain moisture much longer than the branches. The end of the miswak dental stick should be freshly cut to ensure hygiene. If the miswak stick gets dry it should be moistured by soaking in any water to soften the end bristles.
Regular use of miswak dental sticks is supposed to prevent dental caries, eliminate toothaches, and strengthen the gums. Miswak also creates a fragrance in the mouth, which eliminates bad breath (halitosis). Until the year 2000, the WHO (World Health Organization) recommended the use of the miswak, but then concluded that further research was needed to document the effect of the miswak. However, it is known from studies that the periodontal status of miswak users is better than that of toothbrush users1. Also, can thousands of years of experience from human culture be really wrong?
Miswak is used since more than 7000 years and is thus by far the oldest way of cleaning your teeth. Miswak is mentioned in the hadith (the traditions relating to the life of Muhammad). Beside other occasions, Muslims are taught that miswak should be used before sleeping and after waking up, before religious practice, and before entering any good gathering.