From Sahih al-Bukhari:
Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet said, "If somebody eats or drinks forgetfully then he should complete his fast, for what he has eaten or drunk, has been given to him by God." Narrated 'Amir bin Rabi'a, "I saw the Prophet cleaning his teeth with Siwak while he was fasting so many times as I can't count." And narrated Abu Huraira, "The Prophet said, 'But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak on every performance of ablution." The same is narrated by Jabir and Zaid bin Khalid from the Prophet who did not differentiate between a fasting and a nonfasting person in this respect (using Siwak). Aisha said, "The Prophet said, "It (i.e. Siwak) is a purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking the acceptance of God." Ata' and Qatada said, "There is no harm in swallowing the resultant saliva." Narrated Abu Burda: My father said, "I came to the Prophet and saw him carrying a Siwak in his hand and cleansing his teeth.
From Sahih Muslim:
Siwak: Preventive Medicine For Your Teeth
Islam Online, Cairo
One of the best ways to protect one’s teeth is the siwak, which was mentioned in several sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Siwak are the wicks that are used to rub inside the mouth, and they get their name from the Arabic word “yudlik,” which can be roughly translated to mean “massage” (i.e., massage the inside of the mouth). It means more than “tooth brush.”
The best type of siwak is that which comes from the araak tree. The siwak of the Prophet (pbuh) was from that tree. The siwak is a natural twig fortified with natural minerals that help clean , other inhibitors that prevent gums from bleeding, that kill microbes and germs and a scent that gives breath a naturally fresh smell. The siwak is an ideal, natural brush that has been endowed with more than any artificial could ever have.
Like a toothbrush, the wicks on the siwak clean between the teeth and do not break under any amount of pressure; rather, they are flexible and strong. The small wicks bend to the appropriate shape to get plaque and leftover food out from in between teeth while avoiding any damage to the gums.
The Prophet (pbuh) taught us more than 1,400 years ago to use the siwak our teeth and mouth and give it a nice scent. Anas quoted the Prophet (pbuh) as saying: “Whenever the Angel Gabriel would visit me, he would advise me to use the siwak.”
The leftovers of food found between teeth provide an excellent environment for the festering of millions of bacteria, which can lead to painful and bloody and cysts. In the worst cases, there can be inflammation of the jawbones.
Bacteria also produce damaging enzymes that eat away at the calcium of the teeth, which causes cavities. In severe cases, the bacteria produce gases that emit nasty stenches from the mouth. Recent studies have found that siwak has natural minerals that kill microbes and germs and remove plaque.
The Prophet (pbuh) used to rub the siwak over his tongue, teeth and gums. Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari said, “I visited the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the siwak was at the edge of his tongue.”
Chemical Breakdown Of A Siwak
Siwak has 19 beneficial ingredients in it. Most important among them are:
- Antibacterial acidic inhibitors that fight decay and diarrhea. They are natural disinfectants and can be used to stop bleeding. They disinfect the gums and teeth and close any
cuts that may have existed in the gums. On first usage, the siwak will taste harsh, and maybe even burn, because of a mustard-like substance found in it, but this is the ingredient that fights decay in the mouth and kills germs.
- Minerals such as sodium chloride, potassium, sodium bicarbonate and calcium oxides. These clean the teeth. For instance, theconsiders sodium bicarbonate to be a preferred ingredient in .
- Natural scented oils that taste and smell nice, give the mouth a nice smell. Theyabout 1% of the siwak.
- Enzymes that prevent the buildup of plaque that causes gum disease. Plaque is also the no. 1 cause of premature loss of teeth.
- Anti-decay and anti-germ ingredients that act as a penicillin of sorts, decreasing the amount of bacteria in the mouth, which means cleaner teeth and cleaner air when breathing through the mouth.
- Some researchers have found that tooth decay is rapid when a dry brush is used, and that wetting one’s toothbrush mitigates the damage. So the siwak should be dampened before usage. If there is no alternative, one’s saliva will suffice to dampen the stick. Siwak also has chemicals that cause the mouth to produce extra saliva, which is the mouth’s organic defense and cleaning mechanism.
Forget about your Toothbrush! Try Miswak
Benefits of Miswak (Chewing Stick)
A Miswak or Siwak is probably an alien thing to the western world. But, it’s a twig which a majority of people from Muslim countries use daily to brush their teeth. Although it might sound outdated to use twigs from trees for cleaning your teeth, studies conducted on the Miswak prove otherwise.
Studies have inferred that Miswak is better than toothpaste for preventing gum disease. It is being known as chewing stick in the western world and is being looked upon as a form of alternative medicine. So, let’s analyze this “wonder twig” keeping documented scientific studies as proofs.
But first of all, why would anyone think of using a tree twig to clean their teeth? The fact is ancient man did not have the facility of a toothbrush and many cultures have used Miswak for oral hygiene. The use of Miswak is well spread in the Muslim population of the world, and is a common entity in Muslim countries. The reason for common use of Miswak by Muslims can be attributed to religious beliefs. The last messenger of Islam used it frequently and also instructed his followers to do the same and hence the practice continues widely in Muslim countries. There are 70 benefits of Miswak as suggested by Islamic Literature and many of these have been scientifically proven and the rest haven’t been studied yet.
You might be wondering what exactly a Miswak is in the first place. The Miswak is obtained from the twigs of the Arak tree (Peelu tree) although a few other trees can also be used to obtain it such as walnut and olive.
A few important benefits of Miswak
- Kills Gum disease causing bacteria.
- Fights plaque effectively.
- Fights against caries.
- Removes Bad breath and odor from mouth.
- Creates a fragrance in the mouth.
- Effectively clean between teeth due to its parallel bristles.
- Increases salivation and hence inhibits dry mouth (Xerostomia)
Scientific Studies on Miswak
Although the 70 supposed benefits of Miswak range widely, the main one we are examining is its effect on oral health. So, let’s throw some light on scientific studies conducted on Miswak.
The Wrigley Company made a study on Miswak which was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study found that mints laced with Miswak extract were 20 times more effective in killing bacteria than ordinary mints. A small testimony to this fact is that after half an hour, the mints laced with Miswak extract killed about 60% of the bacteria where as the ordinary mints managed only 3.6%
In the August issue of Journal of Periodontology (2008) appeared a study conducted by Swedish researchers on Miswak. The study apparently found that suspended Miswak pieces in a petridish (medium for culturing bacteria) were able to kill bacteria that cause periodontal disease with out being in physical contact with the bacteria. The researchers suggested that Miswak might be giving antibiotics as gases trying to explain this phenomenon.
A study which compares toothbrushing and using Miswak (Miswak ing!) can be seen on Pubmed (U.S National Library for Medicine Service). The study concluded that Miswak was more effective than toothbrushing in reducing plaque and gingivitis provided it was used correctly. Similar studies found on the same website and elsewhere vouch for the effectiveness of Miswak over toothbrush.
A study conducted by a group of dentists at King Saud University concluded that using Miswak was at least as good as tooth brushing, if not better. There have been plenty of published studies on Miswak and infact entire books published which study its oral and systemic benefits.
Now, with all those studies chucked at you, you couldn’t help but wonder why it is so effective. This can be attributed to its strong antibacterial properties. Another important aspect to consider is that its bristles are parallel to the handle rather than perpendicular which means effective cleaning between the teeth. Now, that’s one natural toothbrush cum toothpaste cum floss.Tootbbrush V/s Miswak
Oral Health Prev Dent. 2003;1(4):301-7.
1 ) Comparative effect of chewing sticks and toothbrushing on plaque removal and gingival health.
Department of Cariology and Endodontology, Institute of Odontology, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden. email@example.com
TThe aim of the study was to compare the effect of the chewing stick (miswak) and toothbrushing on plaque removal and gingival health.
Swed Dent J Suppl. 2004;(167):2-75.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
The participants comprised 15 healthy Saudi Arabian male volunteers aged 21 to 36 years, attending the Dental Center at Al-Noor Specialist Hospital in Makkah City in Saudi Arabia. The study was designed as a single, blind, randomized crossover study. The Turesky modified Quigley-Hein plaque and Löe-Silness gingival indices and digital photographs of plaque distribution were recorded at baseline, one week after professional tooth cleaning, and again following three weeks use of either the miswak or toothbrush. Professional tooth cleaning was repeated, and after a further three weeks use of either the miswak or toothbrush (using the alternative method to that used in the first experimental period), plaque and gingival indices, and digital photographs of plaque distribution were recorded anew.
Compared to toothbrushing, the use of the miswak resulted in significant reductions in plaque (p < 0.001) and gingival (p < 0.01) indices. Image analysis of the plaque distribution showed a significant difference in reduction of plaque between the miswak and toothbrush periods (p < 0.05).
2) It is concluded that the miswak is more effective than toothbrushing for reducing plaque and gingivitis, when preceded by professional instruction in its correct application. The miswak appeared to be more effective than toothbrushing for removing plaque from the embrasures, thus enhancing interproximal health.
The miswak (chewing stick) and oral health. Studies on oral hygiene practices of urban Saudi Arabians.
Department of Cariology and Endodontology, Institute of Odontology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
The miswak, a traditional chewing stick for cleaning teeth, is made from the plant Salvadora persica. For religious and cultural reasons, miswak use is firmly established and widespread in Saudi Arabia and most other Muslim countries. Only recently has scientific evaluation of the miswak been undertaken. The aims of the thesis were: 1) to explore current oral hygiene habits and oral health awareness among urban Saudi Arabians in relation to age, gender and educational level (papers I and II); 2) to compare mechanical plaque removal and gingival health after miswak use and toothbrushing (paper III); 3) to compare the effect of miswak use and toothbrushing on subgingival plaque microflora (paper IV). In papers I and II, structured interviews were conducted with 1200 regular patients at two centres in the city of Makkah, providing dental care for university and military staff and their families, respectively. Consecutive patients were stratified according to gender and age, into 6 age groups from 10 to 60 years, with 50 male or female subjects in each group at each centre. Oral hygiene habits were correlated with the subjects' age, gender, and educational levels and analysed statistically by a generalized linear model and ANOVA. In papers III and IV, the subjects comprised 15 healthy Saudi Arabian male volunteers aged 21 to 36 years, attending the Dental Center at Al-Noor Specialist Hospital in Makkah City. A single-blind, randomised crossover design was used. The Turesky modified Quigley-Hein plaque and Löe-Silness gingival indices and digital photographs of plaque distribution were recorded in Paper III and in Paper IV plaque was sampled for DNA-testing. Inhibition zones around miswak material were examined on agar plates with Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and the leukotoxicity of this bacterium was analysed in a bioassay with macrophages +/- miswak extracts (paper IV). In papers I and II, 73% of the subjects used a toothbrush and 65% used a miswak daily. There were significant differences between genders and age groups, and between the centres. Regular miswak use was more prevalent among men (p < 0.01), while women used a toothbrush more often than a miswak (p < 0.05). For the majority (88%) of the individuals, oral hygiene began late, after the age of 7 yrs. Oral hygiene habits were strongly correlated to educational level (p < 0.001). The miswak was preferred by less educated people. Tooth brushing started earlier among the better educated (p < 0.001). In paper III, compared to tooth brushing, use of the miswak resulted in significant reductions in plaque (p < 0.001) and gingival (p < 0.01) indices. In paper IV, A. actinomycetemcomitans was significantly reduced by miswak use (p < 0.05) but not by tooth brushing. These results were supported by the in vitro observations that extracts from S. persica interfered with growth and leukotoxicity of A. actinomycetemcomitans. It was concluded that oral hygiene practice is introduced very late, is strongly correlated to educational level, and that more women prefer toothbrushing to miswak use. It was further concluded that miswak use was at least as effective as toothbrushing for reducing plaque and gingivitis, and that the antimicrobial effect of S. persica is beneficial for prevention/treatment of periodontal disease. There is clearly a need for further oral health education in Saudi Arabia. Because of its close association with Islam, maximum benefits may be achieved by encouraging optimum use of the miswak. Oral hygiene may be improved by complementing traditional miswak use with modern technological developments such as toothbrushing and by tailoring oral hygiene recommendations to educational level.
- [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
- [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE].