The first toothbrush in history – The Miswaak


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 12 October 2017| 21 Muharram 1439

Miswak is a twig used for cleaning one’s mouth and teeth. It’s said the practice was used thousands of years ago by ancient empires from the Babylonians, the Greek to the Romans and the Egyptian civilization.

The miswak twig can be extracted from many trees except for those that are poisonous or harmful, such as pomegranate tree and the myrtle tree.

But it’s preferred to get miswak from bitter tree branches as Palm trees, olive trees or the roots and branches of desert trees preferably from Arak trees, Arabic for Salvadora persica.

Dr. Majed Almadani, a dentist, said that Miswak is a perfect natural toothbrush that provides many health and beauty benefits.

“It contains an extraction like toothpaste, and I recommend one uses it aside of a normal toothbrush,” Almadani said. “This extraction has natural anti-bacteria that help prevent tooth decay and gum diseases. Extracting it prevents the gum from bleeding and reduces the treatment of Oral Cancer.”

Using a miswak has the same effect as using toothpaste.

“It contains fluoride that is important to the oral health and it contains other ingredients that help protecting the tooth enamel layer, removing/fighting plaque and teeth colouring,” Almadani said. “Miswak contains ‘silica,’ which is an ingredient that helps teeth bleach.”

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) recommended the Arak miswak and he used this kind specifically which made it famous among Muslims.

Arak is an evergreen small tree that has several therapeutic functions and the best way to benefit from it. One should clean the leaves, boil them and use the water when cooled as mouthwash.

Boiling the Arak roots can help with respiratory and digestive disorders. It’s extraction is used to treat ulcers, but soaking arak twigs in water can help healing uterus cirrhosis, reduce tumors and delay menstrual cycle.

Miswak purifies the mouth, inhibits dry mouth and increases salivation, help healing oral tissue, kills the build up of bacteria in the mouth and clears the throat aside from protecting the teeth from germs and strengthening the gums.

Hussain Abdullah Al-Abdali is a street peddler who can always be found at Al-Nada gold market in Al-Balad in Jeddah. He has been selling the miswak for over 40 years.

“I used to work with my father ever since I was four years old, he taught me everything I need to know today about the business of miswak,” Al-Abdali said. “My father used to extract miswak himself from different locations in the Kingdom and he also used to clean it, dry it under the sun then cut it. He used to gather around 3,000 miswak and put it in canvas bags to sell it in Makah in place called Haraj Al-Masaweek.”

Al-Abdali said that the miswak coming from sandy soil trees are better than miswaks coming from the valleys.

“Extracting miswak from Arak roots is better than taking it from the branches, green miswak has the least benefits of them all,” he said. “The best miswak is brought from Al-Laith west Saudi Arabia, and especially the spicy kind called Abo-Hanash. But that kind of miswak is decreasing in the market and vendors are bringing lower quality miswak from Yemen

And you can store fresh miswak, wrap in aluminum foil in the fridge, to preserve its components.”

The miswak seller demands authority to monitor unprofessional miswak sellers who display fake and unreal products.

“This kind of business is fading with time and you cannot see many Saudis practicing it,” Al-Abdali said. “It is sad to see this product being sold by factories and not Saudis who know about it the best,” said Al-Abdali. “I also ask the authorities to give us a better opportunity and support us by shedding light on this business and market it as a national humble job.”

However, there may be one drawback to using miswak.

Dr. Harb Al-Harfi, allergy, asthma and immunology consultant at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, said he came across his first case of miswak allergy in his clinic.

A 52-year-old man who lived with rhinitis disease for 20 years, and had allergies for three years complained about gums sensitivity and swollen skin in the area where he put his miswak in his upper pocket. After several allergy tests, results confirm a rare case of miswak allergy. The patient’s gums and skin has healed after stopping using miswak. The patient had a reaction from Arak roots but not twigs.

Miswak allergy can be easily detected, within the few minutes of using it. Consult with your doctor if you had itchy gum or throat, nasal allergies and sneezing, redness and rashness (Eczema) when Miswak is rubbed on skin.

Source – Arab news