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A young man at the Juba bus station using his chewing stick.

The Chewing Stick

9 out of 10 dentists agree!
by Barry Rodriguez

It’s finally out. The Dentamax 9000. A six million RPM electronic toothbrush that uses cold-fusion technology to blast plaque at a molecular level. Infrared lights shine brighter than the center of the sun to give you that radiant smile you’ve always dreamed of. Only $6,999 at participating retailers.

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Chewing sticks for sale!

Or you could use a $0.10 chewing stick and call it a day.

Believe it or not, we’ve bought into a lie. Our teeth do not need fancy equipment and gobs of special paste to stay clean. For the vast majority of people across the Middle East and Africa, using a traditional “chewing stick” for dental hygiene is the way to go. Walk down any street in Juba and you’ll see sticks hanging out of everyone’s mouths. But get this… they actually work.

Chewing sticks are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Sticks you chew. There are many different types of special wood used, but they all work the same way. When chewing on the end of one, it begins to separate, creating softened bristles you can then brush with.

The slightly minty sticks cause you to produce extra saliva (nature’s mouthwash!) and even have some antimicrobial properties. Several scientific studies have concluded that chewing sticks are just as effective as toothbrushes in combating plaque.

Who knew such an ancient technology would still prove useful today?