KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Trading in the Meswak, a tooth cleansing stick, is a busy business among the Sudanese during the fasting month of Ramadan. Being true Muslims, the Sudanese strictly observe an advice by their Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to clean their teeth every now and then during the day, saying: "If I do not fear for my followers, I will order them to clean their teeth before each prayer."
The Prophet and Muslims since those ancient times use parts of arak tree for this purpose.
The arak is an acacia tree scientifically known as salvadora persica and in Sudan it grows in center, west and east parts of the country. The tree is about 4 meters high with smooth dense branches and oval leaves, each 5-8 centimeters long.
The arak has long been used in Africa and Asia for cleaning the teeth. This was supported by modern studies which detail the properties of the arak that help as a cleanser and disinfectant for the mouth.
Dr. Fawzi Abdul Gadir al-Feshawy, of Asyut University in Egypt, said in a research that scientists from the West recently conducted experiments that proved the usefulness of arak in prevention from gum swelling and dental plaque.
The precipitated substances are considered as the main cause dental caries and gum inflammation because they contain billions of microbes which, if neglected, they collaborate with the food remains in causing a minor cum inflammation which, with continued negligence, develops into pus pits under the gum and between the teeth and roots and further develops into a compound that makes teeth vulnerable to falling.
The risk goes beyond the teeth as research showed that the precipitated pus and bacteria resulting from decayed teeth lead to grave diseases to other parts of the body, like the heart veins, the abdomen, the brain, the eyes, etc.
He said the costly research studies on resolving the problem of the layer that is caused by precipitated substances on the gum concluded that continued mechanical cleaning of the teeth can remove that layer.
However, Dr. Fredrik Vaster, a German scientist, found out that the best mechanical cleaning of the teeth is by using the low-price arak stick compared with other means, noting that he had used this stick for seven years without having been infected with decay or inflammation.
Researchers opine that the arak stick is distinguished from the brush with two properties- firmness and flexibility. Feshawy said analytical studies in American, German and Arab universities showed that the arak contains a considerable amount of a substance that makes the teeth base firm and resistant to decay. The arak also contains the chlorophyll element that helps remove the coloring from the surface of the teeth, besides a substance that keeps the teeth white, substances that prevent bleeding of the gum and other substances that serve as detergents and help issue a fine breath.
In view of these properties, the researchers became convinced with the superiority of the arak over the tooth pastes and the companies began to compete on manufacturing pastes based on the arak extract, including a Swizz company that manufactured a paste it named Quali Meswak.
However, Feshawy wonders why the arak stick shouldn't be used in its natural form, as created by Allah, because it is cheaper, more useful and at hand.
The arak thus constitutes a national resource for the Sudan if it is used as a substitute to imported pastes for saving hard currencies and if it is exported to the medical companies it can bring in hard currencies for the country.
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