Teeth cleaning twig

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"chew stick" redirects here. For other uses, see Chewstick.
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.

A type of teeth cleaning twig made from the Salvadora persica tree is known as a miswak, and is common in Africa and parts of Asia.


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]

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).[3]

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:[4][5][6][7][8][9]


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[12])
  • 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


  • Excessive scrubbing can damage the gums.[13]

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. ^ "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)
  4. ^ "Neem tree as teeth cleaning twig". Batplants.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  5. ^ "Natural twigs used as teeth cleaning twigs". Naturaltoothbrush.com. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  6. ^ "Neem tree as teeth cleaning twig 2". Neem-products.com. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  7. ^ "Natural toothbrush twigs". Naturallygreen.co.uk. 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  8. ^ "Natural toothbrush overview". Nzherald.co.nz. 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  9. ^ http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen122.htm
  10. ^ Fletcher, Pascal (Jun 18, 2007). "African twig brushes offer all-day dental care". Reuters. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ "Over extensive scrubbing damages gums". Nzherald.co.nz. 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2011-01-17.