Allah’s Apostle (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “If I had not found it hard for my followers I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwaak for every Salat (prayer).” [Sahih Bukhari]
A Siwaak (also known as Miswaak) is a twig of the Arak tree (Peelu tree) although a few other trees can also be used to obtain it, such as walnut and olive. Studies have shown that Miswaak is better than toothpaste for preventing gum disease. It kills gum disease causing bacteria. It fights plaque effectively. It fights against caries. It removes bad breath and odour from the mouth. It creates a fragrance in the mouth. It cleans effectively between teeth due to its parallel bristles. It also increases salivation and hence inhibits dry mouth (Xerostomia).
There are 70 benefits of using Miswaaks, as suggested by Ahadith. Some of these have been studied and scientifically proven. The Wrigley Company conducted a study on the Miswaak which was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study found that mints laced with Miswaak extract were 20 times more effective in killing bacteria than ordinary mints. A testimony to this fact is that after half an hour, the mints laced with Miswaak extract killed about 60% of the bacteria whereas ordinary mints managed to kill only 3.6%.
The August issue of the Journal of Periodontology (2008) published a study conducted by Swedish researchers on the Miswaak. The study found that suspended Miswaak pieces in a Petri dish were able to kill bacteria that cause periodontal disease without even being in physical contact with the bacteria. In trying to explain this phenomenon the researchers suggested that the Miswaak might be giving off antibiotics as gases.
A study which compares tooth-brushing with Miswaaking concluded that the Miswaak was more effective than tooth-brushing in reducing plaque and gingivitis, provided it was used correctly. There are in fact entire books published which list Miswaak’s oral and systemic benefits. It is a natural toothbrush cum toothpaste.