What did you use to clean your teeth this morning? Electric toothbrush? Perhaps you haven’t considered using a stick from a tree? Yes, it’s the Miswak.
The ancient tool for mouth hygiene has been proven to be the most effective out of several modern devices despite its lack of significance for hundreds of years.
Prophet Muhammad’s (s) only toothbrush was a twig extracted from the Salvadora Persica tree, its place of origin being the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Americas. This became known as the Miswak.
There were other methods of tooth cleansing during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s) in the 7th Century, such as the hair bristle and Ox bone toothbrush of China’s Tang Dynasty (Medibank) and the basic herb flavoured cloth used in the West; however Prophet Muhammad (s) emphasised the profoundness of the chewing stick in oral hygiene strongly throughout his teaching.
He insisted his Ummah use it several times throughout the day, especially before prayer.
It can be used with other devices such as toothpaste and dental floss as these can also assist in maintaining oral hygiene.
One hadith states that “Miswak is a means of the purification of your mouths and the pleasure of your Rabb.” (Sunan Ibn Majah).
From this we can infer that use of the miswak to clean our teeth is not only an act of Taharah (cleanliness), but also an act of Ibadah (worship).
The Miswak is also scientifically proven to be more effective than modern toothbrushes.
Numerous studies have been done in which the performance of the Miswak was tested against that of regular brushes, electric brushes and fluoride toothpastes.
An article (Eur J Dent 2016) states that recent have studies proved; “The presence of calcium and chlorides in miswak inhibit the bacterial attachment on to the enamel surface hence providing a protective medium.”
The article also mentions that another study indicated “Miswak (S persica) has comparable or at times greater chemical and mechanical capability in plaque removal.”
Hence, retaining the practice of using the Miswak will not only revive a forgotten Sunnah, but will reduce the need for expensive dental treatment while allowing us to get closer to Allah!