Teeth cleaning twig

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teeth cleaning twing
Man in West Africa brushing teeth using a chewing stick.

A teeth cleaning twig or datun is a tool made from a twig from a tree. It can help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.


Chew sticks are twigs with a frayed end used to brush against the teeth,[1] while the other end can be used as a toothpick.[2] The earliest chew sticks have been dated to Babylonia in 3500 BC[2] and an Egyptian tomb from 3000 BC;[1] they are mentioned in Chinese records dating from 1600 BC [2] and in the Tipitaka[3], the Buddhist Canon, purported to be giving account of events which took place in the North-Western India around 5th century BCE.

In Africa, chew sticks are made from the tree Salvadora persica, also known as the "toothbrush tree." In Islam, this tree is traditionally used to create a chew stick called miswak, as frequently advocated for in the hadith (written traditions relating to the life of Muhammad).[4]

Traditional Sikhs still use datun today as it is written in their scriptures - “Datun kare neet net nda dukh pawe lal jee” -Guru Gobind Singh

“Dear/beloved , natural twig brush everyday and pains you shall never get.” - Guru Gobind Singh (Tankhah Naama- Guru Gobind Singh written down By Bhai Nandala)

Sikhs strive to do good deeds for the environment so cleaning your teeth in a natural way is a good eco-deed as it is renewable and without plastic packaging.

Twigs used[edit]

Spring blossoms of Kikar (also called Babool) at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India
Neem (Azadirachta indica) in Hyderabad, India

Teeth cleaning twigs can be obtained from a variety of tree species. Although many trees are used in the production of teeth cleaning twigs, some trees are better suited to clean and protect the teeth, due to the chemical composition of the plant parts. The tree species are:[5][6][7][8][9][10]

United Kingdom , Europe and United States

Apple Tree, Pear Tree, Bamboo, Fig Tree, Hazelnut Tree, Neem Tree, Orange Tree, Lime Tree

Sliver Birch Tree (like the maple syrup tree but English)

Liquorish root (which is possible to find in most health food shops or Indian stores)


Mango Tree, Magousteen Tree

India :

Pilu ( Salvadora Persica), Neem, Kicker, Peepal Tree, the Indian plum or ber fruit tree, the Java plum or jamun tree, the Gum arabic tree, Safed babul, Apamarga, Bael tree, Dhak, Madar AK, Kamer, Karanj, Vijayasar, Arjun, Gular, Bargad, Mulhatti, Tejovati, Mango.


Nowadays many producers make special cases for carrying and storing of chew sticks such as miswak. The main purpose of these cases is to store and protect miswak. Their popular name is Miswak holder.


When compared to toothbrushes, teeth cleaning twigs have several advantages:

  • More ecological in its life-cycle
  • Lower cost (0-16% of the cost of a toothbrush[13])
  • Independence from external supplier if made at home from privately owned trees
  • Low maintenance, with some twigs need moistening with water if they become dry, to ensure the end is soft. The end may be cut afresh to ensure hygiene, and should not be stored near a sink. The twig is replaced every few weeks to maintain proper hygiene.
  • No need for toothpaste


  • Different species of Trees have various levels of hardness , so just as with a synthetic toothbrush be careful to choose the correct hardness.
  • Excessive scrubbing can damage the gums.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Panati, Charles (2013). Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things. HarperCollins. pp. 208–209. ISBN 978-0-06-227708-4. 
  2. ^ a b c Yu, Hai-Yang; Qian, Lin-Mao; Zheng, Jing (2013). Dental Biotribology. Springer. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-1-4614-4550-0. 
  3. ^ Dantakaṭṭha sutta (AN 5.208) Mahāsaṅgīti Tipiṭaka Buddhavasse 2500
  4. ^ "Search Results - miswak (page 1) - Sunnah.com - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)". sunnah.com.  horizontal tab character in |title= at position 36 (help)
  5. ^ "Neem tree as teeth cleaning twig". Batplants.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  6. ^ "Natural twigs used as teeth cleaning twigs". Naturaltoothbrush.com. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  7. ^ "Neem tree as teeth cleaning twig 2". Neem-products.com. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  8. ^ "Natural toothbrush twigs". Naturallygreen.co.uk. 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  9. ^ "Natural toothbrush overview". Nzherald.co.nz. 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  10. ^ http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen122.htm
  11. ^ Fletcher, Pascal (Jun 18, 2007). "African twig brushes offer all-day dental care". Reuters. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c Ra'ed I. Al Sadhan, Khalid Almas (1999). "Miswak (chewing Stick): A Cultural And Scientific Heritage.". Saudi Dental Journal. 11 (2): 80–88. 
  13. ^ "Commercial teeth cleaning twig at 8-16% of toothbrush cost, twig from private owned tree at 0". Nzherald.co.nz. 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  14. ^ "Over extensive scrubbing damages gums". Nzherald.co.nz. 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2011-01-17.