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altMy name is Dr. Robert F. Edinger.  I help dentists and students of dentistry from all over the world to be selected for admission to advanced education programs. 

I only do my best, taking the time to reflect on your story as well, usually doing some internet research on your behalf.

I especially enjoy working on behalf of those clients whose stated long term goals represent a significant contribution to helping the underserved.

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Natural Oral Health Hygiene Solution Taking Hold in Africa

Across the continent of Africa south of the Sahara, many people go about their daily business with a small stick or twig protruding from their mouth, which they chew or use to scrub their teeth. It is cut from wild trees and shrubs in the bush and its users swear it is even more effective as well as natural and perhaps most importantly, cheaper and therefore much more accessible than the pricey, plastic, typical alternative found in pharmacies and supermarkets.

In Senegal, the chewing stick is called “sothiou”, which means “to clean” in the local Wolof language. In east Africa, the stick is called “mswaki”, the Swahili word for toothbrush. Users say the sticks are also medicinal, providing not just dental hygiene but also curing a variety of other ills. Dental experts agree they seem to clean teeth well and some up-market health stores in the United States have been selling chew-sticks as a natural form of dental care.

In Dakar and other Senegalese cities sell neat bundles of the pencil-sized sticks, usually about 6 inches long, are seen for sale placed on the pavement, in fact, a variety of different types of wood at different prices. The Werek is cut from the branches of the gum tree, while the thicker Neep-Neep is thought to also ease toothache. The Cola, cut from a soft, whitish wood, is prized for its sweet taste. When chewed, most of the twigs fray into finer strands, having the effect of “flossing” between the teeth, or if rubbed up and down, can scrub tooth enamel clean as well as any brush. They can, however, have a bitter taste as compared with commercial toothpastes.

Several studies have suggested that these cleaning sticks are at least as effective as normal toothbrushes and paste in maintaining routine oral health. Laboratory studies have also indicated that the plants from which some of the sticks in Africa are cut contain protective anti-microbial compounds that act against the bacteria in the mouth which cause tooth decay and gum disease. Thus, it is easy to see why the World Health Organization has encouraged the use of chewing sticks as an alternative source of oral hygiene in poor countries where many cannot afford commercial dental products.

In mostly Muslim Senegal, people say there is a religious component to the use of the chewing sticks. In holy Islamic writings known as the Hadith, the Prophet Mohammed recommends their use as part of cleaning rituals that are an essential element of preparation for daily prayers. 

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