What is miswak? Nature’s toothbrush and its benefits explained

You might have stumbled upon miswak when you were searching for a natural toothbrush. As toothbrush users, you might not even think about other oral hygiene aids. But there are plenty, and one of them is miswak. Through this article we will give you a short history of miswak, then we will move on to benefits, and much more. So whether you are curious or you want to give miswak a try, “stick” around!

What is miswak?

What is miswak [mɪswɑːk]? To say that miswak is one of the oldest versions of a toothbrush is not an exaggeration. Interestingly enough, it has not changed throughout the years either! Miswak or chewing stick comes from the tree known as Salvadora Persica. Salvadora Persica tree is native to the regions of the Middle East, India, and Africa.

So, what is miswak? Miswak is a natural toothbrush that does not require any toothpaste to clean your teeth. Due to its antibacterial effects, it could replace a normal toothbrush and toothpaste together.

History time: where did miswak originate?

Alright! Just a quick history of miswak. You might be wondering, “where does miswak come from?” Well, as we mentioned, miswak is a twig or stick that comes from the Salvadora Persica tree, which grows naturally in regions of the Middle East, India, and Africa. Of course, it is popular in the countries in those regions, but that is not the only reason for miswak’s popularity.

Using miswak to clean teeth can be traced back to Prophet Muhammad almost 1400 years ago. There is literature that indicates Prophet Muhammad recommended brushing your teeth with a miswak 5 times a day. So using miswak to maintain oral health has a significant cultural and religious connotation

Is miswak safe to use?

Yes! But you should avoid overbrushing. With miswak, it can be easy to overbrush your teeth and cause enamel erosion in long-term use. So as long as you are not overdoing it you should be fine using a miswak to clean your teeth.

What are the benefits of miswak?

So, we have talked about what miswak is, but what are the benefits of miswak? Well, we can name a few. If you care about the environment and try to maintain a sustainable life, miswak could be the dental tool you have been looking for. Since it is just a twig from a tree, it is not made out of plastic or nylon. That means less harm to the environment.

Another benefit of miswak is the antimicrobial properties it has because of all those chemical compounds existing in the Salvadora Persica tree. When you use a miswak you will benefit from these effects as well. Antibacterial properties associated with miswak can help with plaque cleanup from your teeth and fight bad breath as well.

Even though there is limited scientific evidence to support the claim of miswak benefits for the stomach and brain, it has been linked to these benefits:


  • Improving digestion: The fibers of the miswak can help stimulate saliva production, which may lead to better digestion.
  • Relieving abdominal pain: The natural substances in the Salvadora Persica tree can help to reduce abdominal pain. While some traditional medicines have used miswak for its anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties, these claims have not been widely studied or verified by scientific research (1).


  • Enhancing mental clarity: The aromatic oils in the miswak have been shown to improve mental clarity and alertness. 
  • Reducing stress levels: The natural substances in miswak have been known to have a relaxing impact, thereby helping to reduce stress (2)

It’s important to note that while some studies have shown that the miswak can have these potential benefits, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these benefits for everyone. Additionally, it’s always best to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before using miswak to ensure that it’s safe and appropriate for you.

Can miswak cure gum diseases?

Regular use of miswak as part of a comprehensive oral hygiene routine may help improve oral health and accordingly reduce the risk of gum disease. However, it’s important to note that gum disease is a complex condition that requires ongoing care and management from a dentist and using miswak alone is unlikely to cure gum disease. Before asking “does miswak prevent gingivitis”, it is essential to have good oral hygiene habits going and to seek treatment from a dental professional when necessary.

All good, but any red flags?

There are no significant or well-known side effects of using miswak as a toothbrush. However, as with any new product, it is important to use it with caution and monitor your body’s reaction. Some possible side effects of using miswak include:

  • Gum irritation: The bristles of the miswak can be harsh and cause irritation to the gums if used too aggressively.

  • Tooth sensitivity: Overuse of the miswak can lead to tooth sensitivity due to the abrasiveness of the bristles.

  • Enamel damage: Using the miswak too often or with too much force can cause enamel damage.

  • Bacterial infection: If the miswak is not properly cleaned and stored, it can carry bacteria that can lead to infection.

Does miswak whiten teeth?

It has been claimed that one of the advantages of miswak is its potential to whiten teeth. The rough bristles of the miswak can help eliminate surface stains on the teeth, while the natural chemicals in it can also help to remove plaque and improve the overall health of the mouth.

If you want to use miswak for teeth whitening, it’s important to keep in mind that results may differ, and the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy, white smile is through good oral hygiene habits, along with regular dental check-ups.

How does miswak whiten teeth?

Miswak is believed to help whiten teeth by removing stains from the surface of the teeth. The bristles of the miswak, which are abrasive, can scrub away surface stains caused by food, drink, and tobacco, which will make your teeth appear brighter.

How long does miswak take to whiten teeth?

If you use miswak constantly for a month you will see your teeth getting whiter. So there should be consistency in using miswak to see the difference.

Where to buy a miswak stick?

Miswak is pretty popular in majority Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. So, if you live in any of the countries that have a majority of Muslim population, you would easily find it in most stores

If not, you can search for Middle Eastern grocery stores in your area, or purchase them online.

Is miswak expensive?

No, it is actually quite cheap compared to the regular toothbrushes that we are used to. So, going green might actually be better in this case!


(1) Mohamed A. Lebda, Ali H. El-Far, Ahmed E. Noreldin, Yaser H. A. Elewa, Soad K. Al Jaouni, Shaker A. Mousa, “Protective Effects of Miswak (Salvadora persica) against Experimentally Induced Gastric Ulcers in Rats”, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2018, Article ID 6703296, 14 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6703296 Link

(2) Haque, Mohammad M, and Saeed A Alsareii. “A review of the therapeutic effects of using miswak (Salvadora Persica) on oral health.” Saudi medical journal vol. 36,5 (2015): 530-43. doi:10.15537/smj.2015.5.10785 Link

-Dahiya, Parveen, et al. “Miswak: A periodontist’s perspective.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 3,4 (2012): 184-7. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.104431. Link 

-Halawany H. S., “A review on miswak (Salvadora persica) and its effect on various aspects of oral health”, The Saudi Dental Journal, April 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sdentj.2011.12.004 Link 

-Saha, Sonali et al. “Efficiency of traditional chewing stick (miswak) as an oral hygiene aid among Muslim school children in Lucknow: A cross-sectional study.” Journal of oral biology and craniofacial research vol. 2,3 (2012): 176-80. doi:10.1016/j.jobcr.2012.10.009. Link