I always include this trinket as kind of a joke, considering I have never seen a Uyghur person actually using one. They all do the same thing we do and go to the supermarket and buy a regular toothbrush. But these fancy stick versions can be purchased from all the street vendors who set up shop in front of the Mosques. The use of the Miswak stick as a toothbrush is not just a Uyghur thing it is a Islamic practice. While not actually mentioned in the Qur’an, the use of the miswak is frequently advocated in the Hadith (the words and traditions of Mohammed – which well not considered up there with holy law, they are said to be examples for life). In the Hadith Mohammed is quoted as saying “Were it not that I might overburned believers, I would have ordered them to use the Miswak at every prayer”.
I have to admit when I hold this broken off piece of branch in my hand I fail to see how it could even compare in teeth cleaning power to the “double- action- triple- rotating- head –super- toothbrushes” that are on the market today. But as I did some more reading on the topic I found out here might actually me some modern day scientific support for rubbing your teeth clean with a stick. Miswak, is a natural toothbrush made from twigs of 'Salvadora persica' tree. It is said to strengthen the gums, prevent tooth decay and eliminate toothaches, as well as supposedly eliminate bad odour, improve the sense of taste and causes teeth to glow and shine. Chemical analysis has revealed it contains 19 natural substances, beneficial to dental health. Miswak's natural antiseptics kill harmful microorganisms in the mouth, the astringent tannic acid it contains protect gums from disease, and miswaks aromatic oils increase salivation. Supposedly miswak itself tastes "pleasantly bitter".
Add to that the fact that it is disposable, biodegradable and the ultimate environmentally friendly toothbrush that can be carried in your pocket and doesn’t require water or toothpaste, and you have the latest in dental hygiene for those who want a green tomorrow.