Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture

He who wants to plant corn must make peace with the crows. -African Proverb

Saturday, August 13, 2016

African Toothbrush Trees

Toothbrushes and toothpaste are not the only ways to brush and whiten your teeth, using African teeth cleaning sticks from the neem and other trees is a traditional way to brush and whiten teeth. 


Natural Toothpaste

In many regions of the world, people are cleaning their teeth with twigs, most often from the gum tree, Kola-nut tree and the neep-neep or neem tree
Nature's toothbrush story from afro style magazine

While it is common in industrialized countries to use factory made toothbrushes, most of the world’s population, especially indigenous cultures in Africa, still use old-world techniques to keep their teeth clean.

How to clean your teeth without a toothbrush? In many regions of the world, people are cleaning their teeth with twigs, most often from the abotesima tree, gum tree, Kola-nut tree and the neep-neep or neem tree to name a few. People chew neem twigs instead of using toothbrushes, which can be very costly and must be replaced often. 

Teeth twigs or toothbrush trees go by hundreds of names throughout Africa depending on the region; siwak, miswak, margosa, datun and kangeta are some of the most well-known tooth twig names.

Toothbrush and Teeth Whitening Trees


In Africa, that can mean keeping your toothbrush in your mouth all day long. Many people go about their daily business with a small stick or twig protruding from their mouth, which they chew or use to scrub their teeth. Twigs from these trees contain an antiseptic property similar and even better than toxic teeth whitening toothpaste, which cannot be swallowed.

Miswak twigs contain an antiseptic property similar and even better than toxic teeth whitening toothpaste, which cannot be swallowed.
Nature's toothbrush, in Africa, that can mean
 keeping your toothbrush in your mouth all day long
What people eat is more important in determining oral hygiene than the materials used to clean the teeth and gums. Processed sugar, flour, rice and junk food are a danger to our teeth as well as the rest of the body. Oral hygiene can be a very important component to our overall health. 

The World Health Organization has encouraged the use of chewing sticks as an alternative source of oral hygiene in poor countries where many cannot afford commercial cleaning and whitening dental products.


Toothbrush trees is not just a rural African product, upscale health stores in the United States have been selling chew-sticks as a natural form of dental care. If chewed, most of the twigs fray into finer strands, which have the effect of flossing between the teeth, or if rubbed up and down, can scrub tooth enamel clean as well as any toothbrush.

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