This Natural Alternative to Toothbrushes May Surprise You…

The kind of toothbrush we all have in our bathrooms was invented in 1938. Previously, from about 1498, boar bristles attached to bamboo or bone handles were used.

But what came before that? Answer: The miswak.

I have only been aware of the miswak for a year or so, and it took me this long to finally break down and buy one. Of all the areas in my life I’ve tried to switch to more traditional roots, an alternative to my toothbrush wasn’t a high priority. In fact I liked how my teeth cleaner worked.

And then, like everything else, I researched.

This natural stick, which is actually a length of root from the Peelu tree, is a natural and more effective toothbrush than your typical plastic and nylon kind.

Beyond the miswak not being synthetic, which is enough reason for me to try it, it actually kills bacteria and fights plaque. On it’s own. With no toothpaste. This of course leads to fewer cavities and fresher breath.

What Does Science Say?

I admit I was skeptical. To hear of a natural toothbrush to not only replace my plastic one, but to not even need toothpaste (or floss?) – and then to learn that it kills bacteria and whitens teeth? Sounded too good to be true.

Then I came across this clinical study. The purpose of this study was to “compare the effect of the chewing stick (miswak), and toothbrushing on plaque removal and gingival health.” The results? “Compared to toothbrushing, the use of the miswak resulted in significant reductions in plaque.”

The study concluded the miswak is more effective than toothbrushing for reducing plaque and gingivitis.

Nothing holding me back, I marched right over to amazon where I bought a miswak.

Getting Started

It was fun when the package came and I asked my family (and friends) what this stick-looking thing actually was. They were all surprised it was a toothbrush. Just another thing to add to the list of what Lea does that is not normal!

You do have to use a peeler (or knife if you’re handy that way) to scrape off about 1/2 inch of the bark away. Then you chew on it until the fibers separate, and you can get right to work. At first some of the outer fibers will break off in your mouth – but then you’re pretty much all set.

The flavor is a natural one, and to describe it I would have to say it reminds me of horseradish on a much much milder level with no spice. And the more you use it, the more mild it gets.

Do I Like It?

When I first used my miswak I was afraid my teeth wouldn’t feel clean enough and I’d have to brush with toothpaste after. I was afraid I’d resort to using my plastic toothbrush at least before leaving the house…

I was wrong.

My teeth do actually feel cleaner. Even without my favorite toothpaste.

I always found a regular toothbrush to be ineffective at fully removing plaque, which is why I floss. However, using the miswak I was surprised to find I really didn’t need to floss anymore, since the properties of the miswak are so effective at removing the plaque.

My teeth are shinier. I almost think they are whiter…could it really be true?

The most pleasant surprise of all is how easy the miswak is to use. I can “brush my teeth” in the car on the way to…anywhere. I find the miswak to be handier than a regular toothbrush, probably due to the fact I don’t need to be near a sink to use it. In fact tonight I used it while playing Yahtzee with my daughter.

Want one?

Stay tuned for a giveaway near the end of the week. I will personally mail two of you a miswak and you can try it for yourself. When I ordered, I actually received twelve for $10, not one – and in reading the reviews this isn’t unusual. If you can’t wait for the giveaway head on over to amazon and order one (twelve?) today!

Shared on: Real Food Forager, Homestead Barn Hop

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proud contributor
Lea Harris founded Nourishing Treasures in 2006. A mom passionate about her family's health and well-being, Lea believes education is power. Encouraging others to take baby steps in the right direction of health for their families, Lea's goal is to raise awareness of what goes into our mouths and on our bodies, providing natural alternative information that promotes health and prevents disease by using traditional foods and nature's medicine.

Lea is a Certified Health Coach graduate from Beyond Organic University, and a Certified Aromatherapist graduate from Aromahead Institute.

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You can also find me on Learning About Essential Oils forum, and Fido Fermentation Facebook group.

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links wherever possible. So if you click on a link, and make a purchase, I might make a small commission, but it doesn't cost you any more.

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This Natural Alternative to Toothbrushes May Surprise You… — 47 Comments

    • You use it over and over. When the fibers are thinning and lose flavor, you can trim them off and move down the stick. The stick itself will last you weeks, even months. Longer than a plastic toothbrush :)

    • It’s pretty neutral. Mushroomy? It’s stronger initially, when you take it right out of the package. As you use it, it’s less strong.

      You can buy flavored ones, but I haven’t tried them yet. I like this one :)

  1. Lea – am on amazon now and wondering you said you got 12 for $10? Who was the vendor you purchased from is you don’t mind me asking? They have it seems from the neem tree and the tea tree also so which ones are the ones you did the research on?

    • This is where I purchased mine. It looks like you are getting one for $10. When I opened my package, there was a dozen inside. Someone who posted a review said they received the same. So maybe you will get 12, too :)

      This is from the Peelu tree.

  2. Weird question — but, what about your tongue? I always brush my tongue to get all the gunk off it. Does this miswak brush work for that, as well?

  3. I went ahead and ordered the box of 36 for $18.95 … along with the set of 3 plus a holder for $3 (even though the holder appears to be plastic, I will definitely use it until it falls apart, in which case I’ll recycle it). Can’t wait! Thanks for posting about this – I’ve been wanting so badly to get away from plastic toothbrushes!

  4. Do you think this would work well with toddlers? My twins always chew on their toothbrushes (tired of toothbrush time being an unhappy time) and their teeth never seem to get quite clean anyway. My son always has bad breath and it makes me feel terrible (even though he eats a good diet and gets his teeth brushed..and I know it’s not halitosis).

  5. Birch is traditional in this country, and much more widely available. Birch is known for its xylitol content and is also the traditional source for wintergreen flavor… sounds more appealing to my personal tastes than mushroomy or horseradishy, lol. I can’t wait to go out and cut some birch twigs and try it out!

    I found this youtube video of Kenyans employing their sticks:

    • O.k., I went out and cut a birch sapling, peeled the end and gave it a go. First thing: no noticeable taste. Second: birch is a very hard wood! I think if I’d smashed it with a hammer it might have softened up better. I can see why people would prefer softer wood. I’m not giving up on a local source of tooth twig yet but I obviously have more research to do!

  6. I have been searching for “good” toothpaste forever. The natural ones I tried left a funny taste in my mouth or gave me an acidy tummy. This may be exactly what I’m looking for!

  7. Ok, that sounds amazing! I HAVE to get one! I have been getting more and more into natural living lately, and this sounds so, well, fun! It definitely takes the cake for sounding weird, love it! =)

  8. How Awesome! I already use just baking soda and water or a dry toothbrush and some homemade mouthwash. This looks great, thank you for sharing!

  9. Lovely information because I came across a lot of Neem fluoride-less toothpaste but most of them contain benzoix acid (which isn’t harmless un;less in contact with heat – that’s what brushing teeth produces….HEAT!)

    Love your site, Lea!

    • My holistic dentist says toothpaste eats away at enamel and promotes brushing with no toothpaste. Your brush (or maybe this stick) does 98% of the cleaning.

  10. The miswak has been recommended over 1400 years ago in Islam!
    The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Siwaak cleanses the mouth and pleases the Lord.’

  11. Hi

    Great article! I have been meaning to use the Miswaak for ages and have also gotten tired of using plastic toothbrushes. I decided to start now because Ramadan has just started and the miswaak links in nicely with the religion because Prophet Muhammed recommended the use of the miswaak. He used it throughout the day and said that if it wasn’t for burdening his community he would have commanded the Muslims to brush before each of the 5 prayers. He also used to brush his tongue, roof of mouth, inside of cheeks etc with it. He was known to have sweet smelling breath! :-)

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