RIYADH: Sales of miswak — the teeth-cleaning twig popular around the Muslim world — will treble in Saudi Arabia as people turn to the traditional hygiene method during Ramadan.
Worshippers fasting during the holy month use miswak several times a day to ensure mouth freshness and protect dental health.
Mubarak Al-Oraizi, a miswak seller in Riyadh city center, said he expected miswak sales to rise during Ramadan, especially in Makkah and Madinah, by almost 300 percent.
Aleem, a miswak vendor who operates near a mosque in Riyadh, said: “During Ramadan, I make a profit between SR50 ($13) and SR250 per day.”
Experts have recommended that people fasting for Ramadan use miswak for oral hygiene. Miswak has been used in the Middle East and the subcontinent for centuries.
The teeth-cleaning twig is cut from a branch of the Salvadora persica tree, also known as the arak tree, and is widely used in Arab and Asian countries, where it is known for its health-giving properties.
According to a study by the Wrigley Company, mints laced with miswak extract were 20 times more effective in killing bacteria than ordinary mints.
Another study that compared tooth brushing and using miswak found that the twigs were more effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis. Miswak’s effectiveness has been attributed to its strong antibacterial properties.
A study conducted by King Saud University (KSU) suggested that miswak’s bristles, which are parallel to the handle rather than perpendicular, also ensured effective cleaning between the teeth. The benefits to oral hygiene and dental health from miswak are equal, if not better, than toothbrush and paste, the study found.
“Miswak has many medicinal properties and can fight plaque, receeding gums, tooth wear and bleeding gums,” it said.
According to researchers, miswak could help improve appetite and even help smokers give up their habit.