Siwak or Modern Toothbrush?



Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim.

So, I'm thinking more and more to ditch my toothbrush in favor of a better, far more superior tooth care method.

Why would I want to do that? Well, there are a few good reasons that I've been beating myself over the head in regards to, one of which is that modern commercial toothpaste is plain and simple POISON.

Yes that's right, fluoride is poison. It is a long standing myth that fluoride, which is an ingredient in all toothpastes available (I have never seen one available without it), helps prevent cavities. This is untrue and a total fabrication. There is no evidence of this. In fact, fluoride is actually a chemical byproduct! . Moreover, the FDA has never even approved this drug.

I won't get into the "Why?" behind the fact of fluoride's widespead use, but since I have learned the fact of its danger, it's been driving me nuts that it's difficult to find alternatives to fluoridated toothpaste in a modern American city. I spent some efforts to find DIY toothpaste recipes to make it myself; there are many recipes for making your own toothpaste, including the ever popular ingredient baking soda. I did actually make one using it, but it was so bitter and unbearable for me (I'm a wimp) that I dreaded brushing. And I rejected it. I found another one which seemed quite promising, after you pull together the uncommon ingredients (search "Susie Castillo blog toothpaste"), so I didn't make it, yet.

And another reason fluoridated toothpaste has been driving me crazy is that I am asking my kids to put poison in their mouths, and just hope that, kids being kids, they won't swallow any of it. Is that just insane?! Poison in kids toothpaste!

Another reason to ditch the toothbrush is the harm of the actual toothbrush itself. The abrasiveness of the bristles (which are made of nylon) against the tooth enamel will wear it down, creating another undesirable dental problem. Also, the manufacturing of the handle of the toothbrush is known to include BPA, PVC and phthalates, all of which are known as toxic to humans and the environment. And we put it in our mouths?!

Then it dawned on me: SIWAK.
siwak or miswak
This would solve the problem of fluoridated toothpaste (never mind the fluoridated tap water!). If you don't know what siwak is, it is a natural twig from the arak tree (seen in above picture). It's actually sunnah to use it; the Prophet (SAW) used to use it to clean his teeth. There are a few hadiths regarding the use of siwak:

  • Aisha (RA) said, "The Prophet (SAW) said, "It (i.e. Siwak) is a purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking Allah's pleasures." [Bukhari]

  • 'Amir bin Rabi'a (RA) said: "I saw the Prophet (SAW) cleaning his teeth with Siwak while he was fasting so many times as I can't count."

  • Abu Huraira (RA) said, "The Prophet (SAW) said, 'But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak on every performance of ablution."

I did some research and found one researcher published*** his findings which found that siwak "contains substances which purify and kill microbes." There are natural acids in the siwak which will kill germs and break down plaque, which are the source of bad breath. And the bristles of siwak are rigid yet soft enough to not cause harm to teeth.

So why NOT use siwak? Allah SWT the Creator knows what is best for us and subhanallah He made innumerable things in nature which benefit us alhumdulillah. Why use something man-made, which could never even come close to the creation of Allah SWT which is perfect; man-made products will definitely have harms as they are without this perfection, and are usually created with the idea of profit in mind and don't take into serious contemplation possible health risks.

So after all that worry, research, and thought, I think I'm going to......

See Cleanliness page for more on Siwak and video on how to prepare and use the stick. 

***Published in journal "Oral Medicine and Dentistry", by the research of Dr. James Turner, Faculty of Medicine in the American University of Tennessee.


Natasha Tufail
05/06/2014 5:36pm

Assalamu Aleikum dear sister Jill. Yesterday I found your website and really liked your work and helpful information, which you collected here. Jazak Allahu Khair.
However, I want to leave a comment regarding your opinion about fluoride. I need to disclose that I am a trained dentist from Ukraine and finished dental hygiene program in US. I do not want to argue the benefits of following Sunnah of our Prophet (PBUH) and using siwak. I just want to ask you not to impose your personal opinion without sufficient knowledge. I am very sorry for saying this , but that subject is important and I believe very often misused. You did provide the references for your readers, however, I can only compare them to references about Islam or Prophet if you would go to any islamophobic websites. They also use some ayahs from Quran, but you and me know that content is the key. I can understand the point of some people when they don't want water fluoridation. They don't want government to impose on them what they have to take in. But before this is approved in any particular area, this issue goes through referendum and people of that particular area vote for or against water fluoridation. This is democracy. I also agree that fluoride can be poisonous if used improperly. But so many other minerals and vitamins. The reason not to give toothpaste with Fl to kids younger than 2 years old is because they can not expectorate properly and benefits are smaller than risks. However, you can find plenty of kids and adult toothpastes without FL in it. From the top of my head the brand is "Tom's of Maine" they carry several kinds without FL. The reason why now it is not recommended to add FL to formula is because research shows that smaller doses of FL are sufficient for cavity prevention as was thought before. Also, a lot of people think that more is better and they add FL everywhere: water, vitamins, drops. Than it becomes a problem and kids start to develop fluorosis, which leads to very brittle teeth. However, in my experience of working in US for more than 10 years, majority of fluorosis is seen in people who used well water, without knowing amount of Fl in it. So , it means that Fl is naturally occurring mineral and not byproduct of some industry. You also have to remember that as a public measure, water fluoradartion makes wonders, especially for underprivilidged kids. As you are aware, consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates is only increased in US, however with prevention measures of water fluoridation, fluoridated toothpastes and varnishes, the occurrence of caries slowly declining. (its still huge problem though) Also, after age of 3-4 Fl ingestion is not beneficial any more (after tooth buds are formed inside child jaws) and small doses of topical fluoride, which tooth paste carry are very helpful in keeping enamel strong. I do agree ,toothpastes have a lot of junk, like SLS and others chemicals to make them more palatable to consumers.
I am sorry for the dental lecture. But I strongly believe that this is one of few measures which public health does right. :) Please let me know if you need references for the facts I gave you.
My best regards and Salams
with the deepest respect,

Jill (admin)
05/12/2014 11:38pm

Assalamu Alaikum sister Natasha! Alhumdulillah I am glad that you found the website to be beneficial. I want to thank you very much for your kind comments, and also for posting your comments and adding your knowledge and expertise to the discussion. It’s a topic well worth the discussion and I am pleased you took the time to engage.

Without having any references posted to go with all the information you listed (and please feel free to post them if you wish) I feel a bit limited in how I can respond. Certainly my view on fluoridated toothpaste is definitely a strong one, and certain to ruffle a few feathers, especially those working in the industry. However, I disagree that I am “imposing” my view on readers; references are posted for people to use as a jumping off point, so they can make their own informed decision. I gently remind that a blog is a deviation from “professional” publications in that it is infused with the writer’s personal experience, attitudes and ideas (which is why I never reference blogs). Additionally the blog page is the only place throughout the website that you will find my opinion, whereas the rest of the site is based entirely on and referenced to sunnah and Qur'an. In any case, my viewpoint here is firmly planted in the knowledge gathered through my research on the subject. I, as well as many others, including professionals in the dental ( and medical field, the EPA, and the scientific community, have found fluoride usage to be dangerous and to cause a host of damaging effects on the human body including interfering with brain function, Arthritis, Kidney disease, endocrine disruption, Thyroid disease, damage to the pineal gland.....just to name a few! (Link: ). It’s also a probable carcinogen (Link: ). One could argue that the research is based on water fluoridation, but since it’s the same chemical added to toothpaste that we’re talking about, I have chosen for myself and my family to avoid a known toxic ingredient as the risks far outweigh the benefits, regardless of age. In my opinion, a healthy diet would do better to protect humans from tooth decay.

Regarding your comments about fluoride free toothpaste: since I posted this blog entry, I have found Tom’s of Maine, but I can assure you that this was hardly widely available. It’s only available in specialty stores, far from the hands of MANY, in price, location and availability. And I have yet to see a children’s fluoride free toothpaste. This means the poor don't even have the advantage of avoiding the adverse effects of fluoride.

I know you don’t dispute this, but the bottom line is that siwak usage is the best tool in dental care, which was in large part the reason for the post: to illustrate the harms outside the sunnah and to praise siwak usage. There’s nothing that a corporation could produce to be more beneficial for us or even come close to what Allah, Ar Razzaq (الرزاق) The Ever Providing,has provided for us, subhanallah!

It is with mutual respect and gratitude that I wish you and your family in Ukraine the best! May Allah SWT protect you and keep you safe in these tumultuous times, Ameen!


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