Suvarna Garge

Teeth cleaning twig

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Teeth cleaning twig

A teeth cleaning twig or datun is a tool made from a twig from a tree. It can help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Using chewing sticks can improve general health depending on the twig used.



Chew sticks are twigs with a frayed end used to brush against the teeth, while the other end can be used as a toothpick. The earliest chew sticks have been dated to Babylonia in 3500 BC and an Egyptian tomb from 3000 BC; they are mentioned in Chinese records dating from 1600 BC and in the Tipitaka, the Buddhist Canon, purported to be giving account of events which took place in the north-western India around the 5th century BC.

In Africa, chew sticks are made from the tree Salvadora persica, also known as the "toothbrush tree".

In Islam, this tree is traditionally used to create a chew stick called miswak, as frequently advocated for in the hadith (written traditions relating to the life of Muhammad).

Traditional Sikhs still use datun today as it is written in their scriptures:

Sikhs strive to do good deeds for the environment so cleaning one's teeth in a natural way such as this method is a good eco-deed as it is renewable and without plastic packaging.

Twigs used

Teeth cleaning twigs can be obtained from a variety of tree species. Although many trees are used in the production of teeth cleaning twigs, some trees are better suited to clean and protect the teeth, due to the chemical composition of the plant parts. The tree species are:

United Kingdom, Europe and United States


  • Mango
  • Mangosteen
  • India

  • Pilu (Salvadora persica), neem, kicker, peepal tree, the Indian plum or ber fruit tree, the Java plum or jamun tree, the gum arabic tree, safed babul, apamarga, bael tree, dhak, madar ak, kamer, karanj, vijayasar, arjun, gular, bargad, mulhatti, tejovati, mango.
  • Carrying

    Many companies produce special cases for carrying, storing and protecting chew sticks, known popularly as "miswak holders".

    Advantages and disadvantages

    When compared to toothbrushes, teeth cleaning twigs have several advantages:

  • More ecological in its life-cycle
  • Lower cost (0-16% of the cost of a toothbrush)
  • Independence from external supplier if made at home from privately owned trees
  • Low maintenance, with some twigs need moistening with water if they become dry, to ensure the end is soft. The end may be cut afresh to ensure hygiene, and should not be stored near a sink. The twig is replaced every few weeks to maintain proper hygiene.
  • No need for toothpaste
  • On the other hand, different species of trees have various levels of hardness just as synthetic toothbrushes would, so careful selection of the right hardness is required before use. Excessive scrubbing too can also bring the risk of gum damage.


    Teeth cleaning twig Wikipedia

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