Do you floss? This question was asked me when I visited a friend for a painful tooth two years ago. Honestly, I replied "nope". Even though the dentist friend did not express any surprise or chide me, I was embarrassed enough to decide to give flossing a serious try.
Previously, I had tried flossing before but readily gave up when the string got stuck between my teeth and then, when the stick version scraped my gum. This time round, I persevered learning to wield the string around my fingers to get the best taut line to insert between the teeth. I succeeded and realized flossing is just using a thread to get at stuck food - there's nothing scary about it. In fact, I could no longer ensure a day without flossing. And guess what? This new habit reduced my dental problems so significantly that I decided to teach my kids to floss too, especially Calder, whose unexplainable angst can stem from hidden discomfort like a toothache. Ethel learned fast and I proceeded to start on Calder.
Attempt 1 - At bedtime, after his brushing, I flossed his teeth using the string.
Attempt 2 - Figuring he would have a problem manoeuvring the string (he can't tie shoelaces), I flossed his teeth with the stick version.
Attempt 3 - I passed him the stick, wondering if he had enough purposefulness and tenacity to push the string right through. To my amusement, he went at it with great aplomb and instinctively adopted a method that I found ingenious - instead of pushing with his hand, he used his upper teeth to bite down on the stick and thus effectively drove the string down in between his teeth. And he understood without instruction that the string had to visit every gap between his teeth.
Attempts 4 to 6 - I reminded him to floss his teeth after brushing and he proceeded to do so for his lower teeth. I did not ask him to do the upper because they were spacious enough not to get food stuck in the gaps. I was amused that not only did he push the sting all the way down, he knew to wriggle it between the teeth. Perhaps he had watched the flossing procedure on TV before?
Attempts 7 & 8 - I decided to do it proper and now expect him to floss both lower and upper teeth.
Attempt 9 - He had no problem flossing except that he had yet to develop a clear system and would visit the same gap over again until I signal a stop to the activity.
Attempt 10 - Without prompting, he reached for the floss right after brushing his teeth.
And so in 10 tries, Calder has caught on this necessary habit that would save him from much dental agony.
Praise the Lord!