Oasis sat down with entrepreneur Leen Sadder in the Big Apple as she revealed just how she sunk her teeth into the business of cleaning dirty mouths.

Leen Sadder is an accidental Tooth Cleaning Fairy. Flashing a healthy, pearly-white smile, she gently waves a teeth-cleaning stick called “the miswak” near her mouth, as she confidently demonstrates how her cigar-cutter-like design will help clean teeth without the use of toothbrushes, toothpaste— or even water.

“Before working on this, I had never heard of the miswak—I only had a very vague memory from childhood,” Leen starts. Growing up in Beirut, Lebanon, Leen brushed her teeth with regular toothbrush and toothpaste, just like everyone else. But three years ago, while pursuing a design graduate degree from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York, a standard class assignment changed her perspective.

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During her first semester ever at SVA, Leen and her classmates were instructed to redesign the first item that they threw away. At home, Leen found an empty tube of toothpaste. How could she re-package that, she thought? She started to research the evolution of teeth-cleaning tools.

She found that the miswak, or siwak, is nature’s toothbrush. “The Miswak (chewing stick) was used by the Babylonians some 7,000 years ago; it was later used throughout the Greek and Roman empires,
and has also been used by ancient Egyptians and Muslims. Chewing sticks are used for oral hygiene, religious and social purposes,” the medical paper, titled The Miswak (chewing Stick): A Cultural And Scientific Heritage, describes the historical significance of the magic twig. Extracted mainly from the branches of the Salvadora Persica tree, which grows in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the miswak is an Arabic word that translates to “tooth-cleaning stick.” Research from the World Health Organization shows that the miswak contains an antibiotic that can suppress the growth of bacteria and plaque formation in the mouth. The miswak is frequently used by Muslims before each of the five daily prayers, to orally clean the teeth and gums, following the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who is to have said, “Siwak purifies the mouth and pleases Allah.”

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