Researchers in Malaysia are using derivatives from old-world toothbrushes to treat gum disease.

Records show that as early as 3,500 BC, chewing sticks were used for purposes of oral hygiene. To Arabs, the chewing stick is known as the miswak. To make one, twigs are taken from the Arak tree and shaped into small finger-length rods. Their ends are then chewed to remove the bark, revealing frayed fibers that can be used as a toothbrush.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that the chewing stick can reduce dental plaque and oral bacteria. Now, researchers from the Centre of Periodontology Studies at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Malaysia have developed a product from the miswak to treat chronic gum disease.

The team made periodontal chips containing miswak in a chitosan base. Chitosan is a stable, biodegradable, non-toxic hydrophilic polysaccharide with excellent mucoadhesive and permeation-enhancing properties. To treat gum disease, miswak chips are placed in the periodontal pocket – a gap that forms during gum disease when the inflamed gum pulls away from the teeth.

In clinical studies conducted on dental patients, the miswak chips remained in the periodontal pocket and reduced the pocket depth. Noteworthy effects included the control and inhibition of dental plaque formation, alleviation of gingival inflammation, and the treatment of mobile teeth.



For further information contact:

Fouad H. Al-Bayaty

Faculty of Dentistry

Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia