The popular, Western way of brushing your teeth involves typical store-bought plastic, nylon or electric toothbrushes, a slather of fluoride-infused toothpaste and brushing in light, deliberate circles for two minutes. Then a 30-second long gargle of minty mouthwash usually tops it all off for a nice, clean-smelling breath. That’s the method we see in movies, advertisements and the way we were taught to keep our mouths clean when we were kids.
However, this isn’t the only way to do it!
In many countries around the world the use of a toothbrush isn’t necessary. There are many other apparatuses and methods for cleaning teeth such as twigs and porcupine needles. Many Muslim countries have a stick-like ‘toothbrush’ called a miswak, which is a twig made from the Salvadora persica tree that is broken in half and rubbed against the teeth.
The miswak is made up of fluorine, silica and many other antibiotic compounds. According to Listerine, the miswak has minerals such as chloride, sodium bicarbonate and potassium to strengthen the enamel in your teeth, leaving you with a healthy mouth.
Studies suggest that it has an array of benefits such as combating gum disease, minimising plaque build-up, and the miswak is also believed to prevent tooth decay.
There are also many other products besides toothpaste that can be used to clean your teeth. People around the world use charcoal, salt ash and even mud!
However, opinions differ regarding the benefits of these alternative methods.
The National Academy of Dentistry says that these methods could result in gum recession, abrasion and dentin sensitivity.
Baking soda is also a popular teeth cleanser, though this is a more new-age approach. It is effective in removing plaque build-up.