Miswak is a natural chewing stick that can be used to replace the plastic toothbrush. It has been used for centuries in Africa and Middle East, where it is still commonly used. Especially in poorer areas where the people cannot afford toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The stick itself originates from the Salvadora Persica tree and it is either the root or a twig of the tree.
Research suggests that Miswak is as good as if not better than the toothbrush and as such should be introduced to the rest of the world so as to benefit from all the good qualities of the Miswak and especially in times when organic products are flourishing and encouraged to be used.
With Miswak possessing benefits such as reducing plaque, strengthening gums and teeth, preventing cavities, teeth whitening properties and breath freshening it is only natural that one would want to introduce it to children as well as adults. This would be especially beneficial as parents want their children to develop good oral habits from a young age.
But the question is: can kids use Miswak?
It is recommended that children should be around the age of 2 when starting to use Miswak. This is an age when the child can understand instructions and it is important that they adhere to the correct usage of Miswak. This includes being able to spit out any residues from the chewing stick. For this reason, young children should always be supervised by a responsible adult when using the Miswak.
As the Miswak has a mild taste, children who dislike the taste of toothpaste would be more prone to using the chewing stick.
Miswak is also good when serving as a distraction for children that need to break out from oral habits such as thumb sucking.
The stick has other beneficial components to children who uses it, one of them is that the bristles are soft and they gently clean the teeth without damaging the gums. The natural flouride in the Miswak protects their teeth from cavitities and the chewing motion when using the chewing stick is similar to the motion when chewing sugarless gum, which research has shown increases the saliva production and this in turn helps neutralize plaque acids.
The World Health Organization supports the use of Miswak and research conducted by the organization suggests that the chewing stick will continue to play an important role in the oral health care of many communities and it would be helpful for health personnel to teach children how to use the right type of chewing sticks.
The World Health Organization ‘The chewing stick in oral health care by Cyril O. Enwonwu & Rosemary C. Anyanwu [online] http://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/47410 (Accessed 22/04/2014).