or miswak has been used for a long time in Middle East and North Africa regions by Muslims for maintenance of oral hygiene. I wanted to investigate whether miswak actually had an antimicrobial effect and if this was greater than or less than that of toothpaste. Subsequently, I also wanted to determine which specific microorganisms were reduced the most and the implications of miswak on tooth decay prevention and worldwide healthcare costs associated with that. Therefore this research question was formulated for the Extended Essay:
To what extent is Miswak more effective than toothpaste in reducing certain colonies of oral bacteria, as observed by inoculation of pre and post usage oral swabs?
A sample of 10 people was selected for this study, 5 for the miswak trials and 5 for toothpaste trials. An oral swab was taken by the subjects and then they were asked to brush their teeth with either miswak or toothpaste for two minutes, after which another swab was taken. These swabs were later inoculated in Blood agar, Chocolate agar, MacConkey agar and Sabouraud agar to qualitatively observe (using an ACFOR scale) the reduction of specific colonies between the pre and post treatment samples. Gram staining was then performed to help identify various bacterial species. The results of the experiments indicated that miswak was more effective on cariogenic (tooth decay causing) species of bacteria such as
. Toothpaste, on the other hand, was more effective on potential pathogens like
. Miswak and toothpaste were equally effective on gamma hemolytic colonies of
species. More research has to be done with quantitative aspects in order to be conclusive about these findings and integrate miswak as a major means of tooth decay prevention.