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J Clin Periodontol. 1992 Feb; 19(2): 113-7.

The immediate- and medium-term effects of Meswak on the composition of mixed saliva.

Gazi MI, Davies TJ, al-Bagieh N, Cox SW.

Department of Preventive Dental Sciences, College of Dentistry, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Chewing sticks or Meswaks are used for teeth cleaning in many parts of the world. They contain substances that may reduce caries and periodontal disease. The present study consisted of 2 parts. In a short-term experiment, volunteers chewed on an inert eliciting agent (pyrogen-free rubber) and then a piece of Meswak, each for 5 min. For the medium-term experiment, volunteers brushed with either Meswak or a conventional toothbrush 5 x a day for 2 weeks. Saliva produced immediately after chewing Meswak showed statistically significant increases in calcium and chloride, but decreases in phosphate and pH as compared with controls. In the medium-term experiment, saliva samples collected 4 h after the last use of Meswak or toothbrush showed no significant differences in any of the components examined (calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, IgA, IgG, lactate dehydrogenase and aspartate transaminase). Gingival and plaque indices, however, were significantly lower after brushing with Meswak. Salivary calcium promotes mineralization of tooth enamel and chloride inhibits calculus formation. Our results thus indicate that Meswak releases substances into saliva that could improve oral health. Calcium and chloride values were similar to those of controls after 4 h and thus frequent use of Meswak may be necessary to maintain a favorable salivary environment.

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