Inspired by twig toothbrushes, Umar Ahmed launched a bamboo brush company

Anke Neustadt

Umar Ahmed flashes pearly white teeth whenever he smiles. 

Growing up in Somalia, Umar didn’t go to the dentist. He brushed his teeth with a miswak twig, a fat stick approximately the length of a plastic toothbrush. The twigs grow on Salvadora persica trees native to India, the Middle East, and Africa that are commonly known as toothbrush trees. 

When Umar moved to the United States at age 16, dentists complimented his perfect teeth. 

“Whenever I go to the dentist, they say, ‘Hey, Umar, your gums are healthy and everything looks fine. What do you use to brush your teeth?’ And I say, ‘Only miswak,’ ” said Umar, 41, who still uses miswak.

Twigs, plastic, and bamboo: Umar Ahmed’s dental-care evolution led to the creation of an eco-friendly toothbrush line–Twiggy Fresh.

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