If you're familiar with Islam, you may have heard of a miswak, a small tooth-cleaning stick that has been touted as an effective way to prevent plaque buildup and to cure halitosis. While the former has been proven by a number of studies, the latter is just so much exaggeration, which a new study confirms.
Research published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene recently looked into the effect that miswak extract has on odor-causing microorganisms. According to traditional Muslim hygienic jurisprudence, miswaks, which look like large toothpicks with one brush-like end, are made from the twigs of the Salvadora persica tree.
Scientists from New York University's College of Dentistry found that a solution of 50 percent miswak extract did not inhibit oral bacterial growth to any great extent. Translation - miswaks do not cure bad breath any more than toothbrushes and tongue scrapers do.
However, using such an implement to scrape food matter off teeth has been shown to improve dental health, just as rinsing with a specialty breath freshening rinse has been proven to help neutralize the odors associated with halitosis.