Well, I’ve blogged about no ‘poo, natural soap, and natural skincare; so I guess it’s time to write about taking care of oral hygiene naturally.
My dental background: Truly, Alhamdulillah, I’ve been blessed with nice and straight teeth. So much so that when people meet me, they’ll ask if I’ve ever worn braces. I am very thankful and grateful that my teeth naturally grew in place and I have never had to go to a dentist for anything except for a check-up (and for an occasional scaling because I felt like I needed something for the dentist to do). I’ve never had any cavity and the dentist would always say my oral care was great. To be honest, I didn’t do anything special and I only brushed my teeth once a day with a regular toothbrush and toothpaste. Could also be due to my diet where I don’t like to drink tea, coffee and other teeth-staining beverages; amongst others, and I also don’t snack on sugary stuff.
Since my teeth were doing good, it didn’t occur to me to go with a “more natural” oral care. Until one dreadful day when I went to the dentist and he found 2 small cavities. They weren’t serious and were easily patched up. I wondered what I was doing differently. It could be due to getting older or not getting enough calcium or a number of things. It was then that I decided to google up natural dental care.
So I read about oil pulling, homemade toothpaste, healing tooth decay and all. I tried out the oil pulling method whereby you swish virgin coconut oil (VCO) in your mouth for 20 minutes to draw out the toxins. The process is fine but since I always swish at the bathroom sink, I will automatically spit out the oil there (which isn’t good for the pipes). Plus your sink gets dirtier faster with the oil residues. I figured that it wasn’t worth the hassle.
I also tried a homemade toothpaste mixture of just baking soda, and then I tried mixing it with VCO, and then I tried baking soda with clove oil. My tastebuds have gotten used to the awful taste of baking soda that when my mom gave me a tube of herbal toothpaste (because she said she gagged a lot and didn’t like the taste), I told her it tasted just fine.
The homemade toothpaste mixture and brushing my teeth with a toothbrush just wasn’t doing it for me. I felt like I wanted a truly natural way to brush my teeth and wondered what people used to brush with before toothbrush and toothpaste. That’s when I remembered that our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W liked to clean his teeth with a miswak/siwak/tooth-stick. You really should google it and read about it. This is what they’ve used since thousands of years ago, and it’s as natural as you can get! Honestly, I don’t think you can get anything more natural than a tooth-stick. Also, there are many benefits to using the miswak, not just religion-wise but health-wise too. So I went to one of those “Islamic” stores which sells pomegranate juice, argan oil, all-natural olive oil soap, and all kinds of other stuff which I didn’t really pay attention to because I was looking for the tooth-stick.
Once I found it in its lovely individually vacuum-packed plastic, I saw that there were different types. There were some thin ones, thick ones and medium ones. I bought them all to try which I liked best. The following results would differ with different people. For me, the thin one didn’t feel like it cleaned my teeth much. The thick one was just too big and wasn’t comfortable to brush with. The medium one was juuuuuust right. It was the best out of all the sizes and it made my teeth feel clean and my breath neutral.
So the next time, I bought a whole bunch of the natural medium-sized ones. No fancy mint-flavoured ones for me. The lady at the counter was amazed with the amount I wanted to purchase that she gave me a small discount. The next time I went, it was a different lady and she asked if I actually used it. Another time I went, it was a different lady and she asked if I was going to re-sell it. (Heck NO!) The times I went after that, they would immediately recognise my car when it entered their parking lot and once I entered their store, they would just smile and point me to the miswak section. I guess they were intrigued with me as you don’t really get “young-and-modern-looking girls” coming into that kind of store to buy handfuls of miswak.
And, Alhamdulillah, I’m proud to say that I’ve been on the miswak for a few years now without fail! And the last time I went to the dentist, a few months ago, she said that my teeth were perfect with no cavities. So yes, you can survive with just a miswak and not get cavities. Alhamdulillah. In the beginning, I used it once a day. But my mouth didn’t feel fresh throughout the day. So I felt compelled to use it more frequently. Plus, we know that it’s sunnah to use it when taking ablution (which should be done at least 5 times a day). Our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W used it all the time, as often as he liked. That’s how safe it is! The more I used it, the fresher, better and cleaner my mouth felt too.
It’s also great for when traveling. You know when you have a long flight and you just need to brush your teeth before landing or after a meal or whenever you feel like you need to clean your mouth? Well, you can easily bring this little tooth-stick in your carry-on bag and use it with great success! It’s just one item instead of two (toothbrush and toothpaste).
I love my miswak and the only time I get really sad is when the store is out of stock!