Miswak | Wikipedia audio article


The miswak (miswaak, siwak, sewak, Arabic:
سواك‎ or مسواك) is a teeth cleaning twig made from the Salvadora persica tree
(known as arāk, أراك, in Arabic). It is reputed to have been used over 7000
years ago. The miswak’s properties have been described
thus: “Apart from their antibacterial activity which may help control the formation and activity
of dental plaque, they can be used effectively as a natural toothbrush for teeth cleaning. Such sticks are effective, inexpensive, common,
available, and contain many medical properties”. It also features prominently in Islamic hygienical
jurisprudence. The miswak is predominant in Muslim-inhabited
areas. It is commonly used in the Arabian peninsula,
the Horn of Africa, North Africa, parts of the Sahel, South Asia, Central Asia and Southeast
Asia. In Malaysia, miswak is known as Kayu Sugi
(Malay for ‘chewing stick’).==Science=====Studies===
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the use of the miswak in 1986, but in 2000
an international consensus report on oral hygiene concluded that further research was
needed to document the effect of the miswak. Some of this further research has been done
on a population of 203, and concluded, in turn, “that the periodontal status of miswak
users in this Sudanese population is better than that of toothbrush users”. Yet another comparative study conducted on
a sampling of 480 Saudi Arabian adults found that “the level of need for periodontal care
in the sample chosen is low when compared with the findings of similar studies undertaken
in other countries. The frequent use of the ‘Miswak’ was associated
with a lower need for treatment”.A 2016 paper has been published comparing human DNA left
on used miswak and toothbrushes, including the effect of time, to determine whether miswak
is a reasonable source of DNA when found at crime scenes. The conclusion was that miswak contains a
high enough quantity of DNA, and retained good DNA profiling; and when compared to toothbrushes,
miswak is a reasonable source of DNA for forensic profiling. In addition, time of storage up to 4 months
had no or little effects on results.===Miswak extract vs. oral disinfectants
===Studies indicate that Salvadora persica extract
exhibits low antimicrobial activity compared to other oral disinfectants and anti-plaque
agents like triclosan and chlorhexidine gluconate. Mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine was with
maximum antibacterial activity, while cetylpyridinium chloride mouthrinses were with moderate and
miswak extract was with low antibacterial activity.However, the benefits of triclosan
were discounted by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2016 and its safety
is uncertain as a hygiene product ingredient. Chlorhexidine gluconate was also linked to
serious allergic reactions, albeit rarely.==Religious prescriptions==The use of the miswak is frequently advocated
in the hadith (the traditions relating to the life of Muhammad). Situations where the miswak is recommended
to be used include before religious practice, before entering one’s house, before and after
going on a journey, on Fridays, before sleeping and after waking up, when experiencing hunger
or thirst and before entering any good gathering. In addition to strengthening the gums, preventing
tooth decay and eliminating toothaches, the miswak is said to halt further decay that
has already set in. Furthermore, it is reputed to create a fragrance
in the mouth, eliminate bad breath, improve sensitivity of taste-buds and promote cleaner
teeth.===A hadith concerning the miswak===
It is often mentioned that the Islamic prophet Muhammad recommended the miswak’s use. He is quoted in various hadith extolling its
virtues: Were it not that I might over-burden the Believers
I would have ordered them to use Siwak (Miswak) at the time of every Prayer. Four things are from among the practices of
the Prophets: Circumcision, Perfume, Miswak, and Marriage. Make a regular practice of Miswak for verily
it is the purification for the mouth and a means of the pleasure of the Lord. Use the Miswaak, for verily, it purifies the
mouth, and it is a Pleasure for the Lord. Jib-ra-eel (A.S.) exhorted me so much to use
the Miswaak that I feared that its use would be decreed obligatory upon me and upon my
Ummah. If I did not fear imposing hardship on my
Ummah I would have made its use obligatory upon my people. Verily, I use the Miswaak so much that I fear
the front part of my mouth being peeled (by constant and abundant brushing with the Miswaak)==Maintenance==A miswak should be one hand span in length
when selected. If it becomes dry, it should be soaked in
any water to soften the end bristles. The end should be cut afresh to ensure hygiene
and should never be stored near a toilet or sink. The brush may be created by cutting Salvadora
persica’s branches instead of its roots; keeping in mind that the tree’s roots can retain moisture
more so than its branches. This favors more long-term usage.==Carrying==
Many companies offer special cases for carrying miswak. Many of these companies also produce miswak
itself. The main purpose of these cases is to protect
and carry miswak in order to preserve its freshness. Plastic toothbrush cases are available at
most drug stores and may be used for carrying a Miswak

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