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The Chewing Stick - Nature's Nifty Little Toothbrush.

Updated on December 25, 2009

Have you ever used chewing sticks before?

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Would you ever consider using them?

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For ages, there has been an ancient secret behind the bright smile of those living in areas where few, to no commercially manufactured toothbrushes ever existed, or were readily available.

Believe it or not, this ancient secret lay in a simple piece of wood called the chewing stick.

* The Origin of the Chewing Stick.

Once used by the Babylonians (3500 B.C.), Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, the chewing stick of old was simply a small wood "toothbrush" used in our predecessors daily oral hygiene.

Although Europeans once took advantage of this simple method; the chewing stick did fall out of favor with them over 300 years ago.

* What Is The Chewing Stick Made From?

Although the most common source of the chewing stick is the salt-bush (also called toothbrush tree) in the Middle East, in West Africa, orange and lime trees are used, while the neem tree (neems) are the main source for chewing sticks in the Indian subcontinent.

Astonishingly, nearly 300 different species of trees and shrubs in East Africa are used in making chewing sticks!

* How Does The Chewing Stick Work.

Simply put, when the stick is chewed...

1.) the fibers at the end become loose, thereby forming a rough "brush"

2.) continued chewing

a.) loosens and dislodges particles between the teeth

b.) stimulates blood circulation in the gums

c.) increases saliva production which in turns acts as a natural mouthwash that rinses away bacteria and creates an inhospitable environment for them to thrive and flourish.

* Additional Benefits.

More than just a brush; it was discovered that the twigs and roots of certain plant species used in making the chewing stick, contain chemical compounds that slow the formation of plaque. In addition, extracts of other sticks have proven to possess antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

For instance, the twigs of the aforementioned toothbrush tree have been found to help prevent ulcers. And in Namibia, chewing sticks made from a plant known as muthala, inhibit the growth of pathogens that cause gum disease, tooth decay, and sore throats.

The benefits don't stop there. Chewing sticks possess the ability to prevent cavities, as well as strengthen the users' roots and gums.

So valuable is this natural dental device, that some companies now make toothpaste that contains resins and fibers extracted from these plants.

* Are Chewing Sticks Still Used Today?

Still popular in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, many have come to realize the amazing benefits of "nature's nifty little toothbrush."

Some have even concluded that chewing sticks work as well as the traditional toothbrush of today. So much so, that these nifty little sticks are available online for those searching for a more natural way of keeping their teeth and gums healthy.

So whether you opt for the more traditional method of brushing your teeth, or the more natural yet antiquated method, why not give "nature's nifty little toothbrush" - the chewing stick a try.

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    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience kwabena peter.

    • profile image

      kwabena peter 

      6 years ago

      I began to feel some sensation on my teeth following a prolong use of 'everyday tooth paste'.but once I began to use sticks(moringa,dandilion.neem, etc) the unpleasant sensation varnished.sticks are 100% natural.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      I know I would love to try them. How small yet effective! Thank you Dozie for stopping by, reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Dozie 

      7 years ago

      i live in west africa and i use the chewing stick almost everyday. its cant be any better! my teeth are as healthy as can be

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      That is a great idea Faceless39 - determining what these would be called in other regions. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and leaving a comment.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      That is a great idea Faceless39 - determining what these would be called in other regions. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and leaving a comment.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Kate P 

      8 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Great article. It would be interesting to learn what these "chewing sticks" are called in each region!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks asante for stopping by and commenting.

    • profile image

      asante 

      8 years ago

      it is good everyone should try it.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      BkCreative- I haven't had the pleasure of trying these sticks myself. But I've heard that people who use them have the most beautiful teeth and healthy gums! BkCreative - you are truly the world traveler I see!

      Jim10 - I use Tom's of Maine myself. I like their natural alternative to the mainstream toothpaste on the market. And it works just as well, my toddlers use it and they've had a clean bill of oral health from the time they started using it.

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 

      9 years ago from ma

      I stick with a fluoride free toothpaste from Tom's of Maine because I am worried about putting anything in my mouth that isn't safe to swallow. This sounds like it would be great to try.

      Thanks.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 

      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oh yes! When I was in Senegal everyone had these - and of course the beautiful perfect teeth - unless they went to college abroad - you could always tell because the teeth were noticeably bad. These are far superior to any toothpaste as they activate the enzymes in the mouth.

      Here in Brooklyn, NYC you can go into many of the African shops and buy them and I have. But then I forget about them. Commercial toothpaste is filled with so many toxins we are advised never to let children swallow. Ridiculous.

      We should all use these - good dental health guaranteed!

      This is a great reminder Veronica Allen! Thank you!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      I think that is so cool Hello, hello. How something so small can be so beneficial is amazing to me. Although you can't get them in Europe, you can purchase them on Amazon.com, and there are a variety of flavors and kinds such as African chewing sticks and Austrailian Chewing sticks available on-line as well. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      I knew and saw this stick because I went on holiday in India and in my mind it is the best for your teeth. Unfortunately, you can't get them in Europe. Thanks for the hub

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      You're welcome creativeone59. I would love try these due to their effectiveness.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Hey, thanks for the info about chewing sticks. learn something every day. creativeone59

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