Camping 101 – Natural Alternative to Brushing Your Teeth With Your Finger

brushing teeth with finger
34680 / Pixabay

So, you are out there in the wild and you realize, “I forgot my toothbrush,,, what do I do?”. You don’t really like the idea of brushing those teeth with your finger but what other choice do you have? Well, you have a very good choice, actually. One that’s good enough that you might bring the idea home with you.

Enter… the Miswak!

Enter the what??!

The Miswak is a solution that dates back to biblical times. One of the nice things about it is that you can purchase a Miswak or simply go out and get one yourself. Best of all, there might be quite a lot of them waiting in your own backyard. If you have been wondering how to brush your teeth without a toothbrush then today is your lucky day.

Okay, you’ve got our attention, so what is a miswak??!

A Miswak is a twig that you brush your teeth with. Sounds harsh? Well, a lot of folks still wear by it. For religious reasons or just because they like the idea of a natural alternative to pushing a plastic brush with synthetic fibres into their mouth for hygiene, many people love the Miswak.

So, is it a special sort of stick that I can only find on some mountaintop?

Nope. There is a special tree in Africa that is most commonly used called ‘Salvadora Persica’ that has reputedly been in use for over 7000 years. That said, you don’t need to employ that one specific tree (although you can get a traditional Miswak online with a quick search and some curiosity if you’d like to try one.).

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So what kind of trees can I use?

how to brush your teeth without a toothbrush
lumix2004 / Pixabay

There are a number of suitable trees that you can use to brush your teeth without a toothbrush. We have some examples for you that may be commonly found in Europe or North America but there are many more. Our examples include:

  • Orange trees
  • Apple trees
  • Liquorice roots
  • Fig trees
  • Walnut trees
  • Hazelnut trees
  • Olive trees
  • Cinnamon(oh yeah!)

There are many, many more but that is just a sample to give you an idea of how easy a solution this is to implement when camping or otherwise. Best of all, it has argued that this method is as effective, if not more so then a regular toothbrush.

“Cleaning with a Miswak is actually quite simple”

Sounds awesome, but how do you clean your teeth with a twig?

Cleaning with a Miswak is actually quite simple. There are a few small steps to follow and you’ll soon be able to decide if this is a method that you might like to keep. Here is what you need to do:

  • First you will want to choose a side of the twig and start to chewing off the bark. Chew about an inch off of it so that the ‘bristles’ portion of your Miswak are exposed. Don’t be worried if it tastes a little sharp, that’s normal and depending on the tree type might actually add to the experience. Spit out the bark and you are ready for the next step.
  • Chew at the center of the exposed area for about a miute or two. The goal in this step is to get the wood soft enough that you can spread out the bristles that we will be using for cleaning. You want there to be about as much resistance as you might get from a regular soft-bristle brush.
  • Soak the tip in water, it can be regular water or if you have some mint leaves you can gather you can boil those for it first. Traditionalists like to use rosewater but you don’t have to go that far and just plain water will work just fine.
  • Grip with your thumb under the middle of your Miswak and start brushing. Noe, you won’t be brushing like you would with a regular toothbrush, rather you will be brushing with the tip of the Miswak pushing against your teeth, It’s like regular brushing, but straight-on, rather than sideways.
  • Brush gently. Scrub all of your teeth. The goal is not to abrade or scrape them, simply to brush them. Take your time, especially if you’ve picked one of the more interesting flavors of tree.
  • Once you are done rinse out with water and your teeth are officially super-clean!
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Is it hard to get used to?

You were wondering how to brush teeth without a toothbrush and this is actually one of the easiest to pick up. It feels awkward at first because of years of brushing sideways, but you are essentially still doing the same thing. You’ll adapt quite quickly.

Do I need to store it or clean it a special way?

When you have finished you can simply store your Miswak in a dry place(somewhere open, a bag or plastic container might encourage moisture and consequently, mold.) and every few days cut off the old, used portion and chew up some fresh bristles. Some of the commercially produced Miswak sticks may last longer, due to the number of preservatives involved, but if you are going the natural route then every few days is a good rule for changing out the bristles.

how to brush teeth without toothbrush
PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Is this the best way to brush your teeth without a toothbrush?

If you have no toothbrush, this is definitely what to use. You can get your teeth clean and shiny and it certainly beats rubbing some toothpaste on a paper town and rubbing with your fingers. Maintaining your dental hygiene is just as important when you are out camping or hiking as it is during a regular day, so don’t skimp on it, make a Miswak!

In conclusion

Now you know what you need to do if you are out camping, hiking, or just want a nice, natural alternative for cleaning your teeth. We hope that you will give it a try; you might just find that you love using your Miswak!

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John D

Joh is the editor at Toothsy.com where we're passionate about you getting the best tips about oral health. There are a lot of questions asked about every detail of this topic and that's where we come in, to answer them as quickly and helpfully as possible for you.

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