Abu Dhabi: If you thought it might sound old-fashioned to suggest you start using tree twigs to clean your teeth, you are wrong. The World Health Organisation for oral hygiene has recognised the multiple benefit of miswak.
The miswak or siwak is a teeth-cleaning twig taken from the Salvadora persica tree known as arak in Arabic or peelu in Urdu. Studies have found the valuable medical properties of this tree include abrasives, antiseptics, astringent, detergents, enzyme inhibitors and fluoride.
A small tree with a curved trunk and splintered bark, Salvadora persica has fibrous branches used as toothbrushes and are known for their pleasant fragrance and a pungent taste.
The tree has long elliptic leaves and have greenish to yellowish flowers, which are very small, and round fleshy pink and scarlet fruits. Tolerable to very dry environments, the tree grows in abundance in deserts as well as by river banks and in wet areas. Highly salt-tolerant, it can also grow on coastal regions.