Miswak is a natural tooth brush prepared from the roots or branches of various trees and bushes. The most common and beneficial is that of the root of the Salvadora Persica, a wild desert plant known in Arabic as arak, and in Urdu as peelu.
The teeth cleaning twig is a traditional alternative to the modern day toothbrush and equally effective method. In fact, a 2003 scientific study comparing the use of miswak with ordinary toothbrushes concluded that the results clearly were in favor of the users who had been using the miswak, provided they had been given proper instruction in how to brush using it.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the use of miswak in 1986 and in 2000 for oral hygiene.
An international consensus report on oral hygiene also concluded that further research was needed to document the effect of the miswak.
The major advantages of the miswak includes it strengthens the gums and prevents tooth decay, assists in eliminating toothaches and prevents further increase of decay which has already set in.
Miswak creates a fragrance in the mouth and eliminates bad odors and improves the sense of taste, sharpens the memory, causes the teeth to glow, strengthens the eyesight, assists in digestion and clears the voice.
Siwak has a long and well-documented history and features prominently in Islamic jurisprudence on oral health and hygiene.
The miswak is predominant in Muslim-inhabited areas and its usage predates the inception of Islam. The twig has its origin in the Arab countries and spread from the Middle East to South and South-East Asia.
Miswak is Sunnah and its usage and timing has been recommended for the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, the recitation of Hadith, as and when the mouth emits an odor, for the learning or teaching of virtues of Islam, for the remembrance of Allah, after entering one’s home.