It is generally accepted that oral hygiene maintenance through regular removal of dental plaque and food deposits is an essential factor in the prevention of dental caries and periodontal or gum diseases. Methods for oral hygiene vary from country to country and from culture to culture.
VARIOUS MEANS OF BRUSHING TEETH
- Traditional chewing sticks which are selected and prepared from the twigs, stems or roots from a variety of plant species.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
Chewing on a stick produces mechanical cleaning and increased salivation. Antimicrobial substances that naturally protect plants against various invading microorganisms or other parasites may leach out into the oral cavity on chewing, thereby protecting against bacteria.
They contain ascorbic acid, tri-methylamine, chloride, fluoride, silica, resins and salvadorine, which have proved potency to heal the inflamed and bleeding gums, produce stimulatory effect on gingiva, remove tartar, and other stains from the teeth, re-mineralize dental hard tissue, whitens teeth and provide enamel barrier.
Also, these sticks contains volatile oils, tannic acid, sulphur and sterols which attribute to anti-septic, astringent and bactericidal properties that help reduces plaque formation, provides anti-carious effects, eliminates bad odour, improves the sense of taste and cure many systemic diseases.
VARIOUS CHEWING STICKS
- Licorice chew sticks
- Miswak chew sticks (roots, twigs and stems of Salvadora persica (Arak tree) sticks)
- Neem chew sticks (Azadirachta indica sticks taken from flexible branches of Neem tree)
- Citrus Trees – These are mainly from Lime and Orange trees.
- African Laburnum – People in Sierra Leone were known to have derived oral health from this source.
- Roots of the Senna – American Negroes were said to have derived Chewing sticks from this plant.
- Napoleonaea imperialis- This is the most popular source of Chewing stick in Nigeria.
- The Plantation Tea Tree chewing stick is a an easily available Australian chewing stick made from Birchwood, primarily impregnated with Tea tree oil and infused with other natural extracts that includes: Cinnamon, Menthol, Peppermint and Fennel.
Chewing sticks are usually made from woods, stems or roots in a size range of 15 to 30cm. The stick is held at one end with some part of the other end placed into the mouth where it is chewed into a fibrous brush-like fringe. The process of chewing involves rigorous mixing and softening with saliva.
When the brush is formed the fringe is used to scrub the surface of the inner and outer parts of the teeth. The process of scrubbing involves vertical and horizontal strokes which can remove plaques. The scrubbing process also extends to the surface of the tongue.
One important feature is that the fringe keeps breaking out in the process with the user always spitting out the pieces. Finally, water is used to rinse the mouth and the process is complete.
Chewing sticks have revealed parallel and at times greater mechanical and chemical cleansing of oral tissues as compared to a toothbrush. These chewing sticks are readily available and are easy to use. They are a boon to mankind!