Twigs as Toothbrushes Get Designer Touch (Photos)

miswak toothbrush twig photo

Image credit: Leen Sadder

From toothbrushes with reusable handles to recycled plastic toothbrushes there are already some green(er) options out there for more sustainable oral hygiene. But much of the world has one up on us Western consumers on this front—using a totally biodegradable twig to clean their teeth. What's the best way to promote this product to the rest of us?

Why, wrap it in plastic of course. While it may seem counter-intuitive to take an already biodegradable product and put it in non-biodegradable plastic packaging, I am actually not sure it is as daft an idea as it sounds. Designed by School of Visual Arts student Leen Sadder, the THIS toothbrush, is based on the "miswak" tooth-cleaning twig that is used throughout much of the muslim world. Manufactured from twigs harvested from the "arak" or salvadora persica tree, some research has suggested that a miswak, if used properly, offers superior results compared to using a conventional toothbrush.

Is Plastic Tube Necessary?
If the traditional product is so good as it is, it does beg the question of why we would want to wrap it in plastic. One answer, of course, is that for the miswak to compete with mainstream toothbrushes in much of the world, it needs to sit alongside those toothbrushes in the store—so packaging that sits well on the shelf and can be accepted by existing retail infrastructure is central to any market expansion. It's also worth mentioning that, in a crowded market place, branding plays a key role in standing out from the crowd—and branding a small twig is pretty darned hard.

Practical Reasons for Better Packaging?
But this is about much more than appearances, distribution and messaging. Miswak tooth cleaning twigs need to be kept dry, and they need to be trimmed regularly to provide fresh wood and to avoid infections. So the fact that the packaging lid also doubles up as an in-built twig trimmer (much like a cigar cutter) is clever indeed.


Image credit: Leen Sadder

From The Daily What to Gizmodo, this design seems to have caught the interest of many bloggers around the world. Just ignore the depressing inter-faith arguments raging in some of the comments. Can't we even talk dental hygiene without it descending into holy war?

More on Greener Dental Hygiene
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Ask Pablo: Does Recycling Your Toothbrush Really Make a Difference?
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