Nightly flossing: a mommy-daughter activity

Since I was young, I’ve been flossing nightly quite religiously. Even in my twenties, when I would come home after drunk nights out, I’d still somehow manage to brush AND floss my teeth before passing out in my bed. My mom constantly told Ed and me that we had to take care of our teeth: we only had one set of teeth (well, after elementary school, that is), so we had to take good care of them. Otherwise, we were in for a lot of very painful (and horribly expensive) work like she had to endure, as she had zero dental care growing up poor in Central Vietnam until she moved to the United States.

I hope to instill the importance of taking care of one’s teeth in Kaia, but also explain the “why” behind all of the “you have to” statements. For example: don’t brush too hard, otherwise your gums will wear away and won’t grow back! Rinse your mouth after eating fruit/citrus, otherwise your enamel will wear away and you’ll have sensitive teeth (like your mom; UGH). Brush your teeth every day, twice a day, to prevent plague and gum disease! No one ever warned me growing up that if gums wore away, they wouldn’t grow back. No one was probably even aware that something healthy like an orange could actually erode your enamel back then. So now, I’m paying the consequences…

The cute thing is that since her crawling days, Kaia has always expressed fascination with flossing. Each evening before reading to her and putting her to bed, I’d wash my face and floss. She’d watch me intently and get really excited when the floss would come out. Occasionally when she was a baby, she’d try to reach for the floss, so I’d give her a clean piece and watch her carefully to make sure she didn’t swallow it. We once had an incident where she watched me toss my used floss into the trash. When I turned away, she quickly went into the trash, retrieved it in near stealth-mode, and started chewing on it. That was a very not-fun and disgusting moment.

Now that she’s older, when she knows that I’m flossing, she will eagerly run into the bathroom in the evening when I am there and ask to “floss with mummy.” So while I floss now each evening, I will give her a short piece of clean floss, and we’ll “floss” together. I will sit down on the edge of the bathtub and floss with her so she can see what I’m doing with the floss in my mouth, and then she will give me a big grin and say, “Wanna sit with mummy” while flossing. Then, she’ll stand so that she’s right between my legs, and we’ll continue our mommy-daughter flossing activity together. Granted, while I am actually flossing, I know she just has the floss in her mouth and is chewing on and licking it, but at least she knows that this is a nightly, regular ritual. And hopefully, this is one ritual she will do properly when she is a little older and needs to floss. At the very end of the activity, I will tell her I’m all done, and I’ll throw my used floss in the trash. I will ask her if she’s all done, and when she is, she will also throw her used floss in the trash, as well. These are the sweet moments of watching my Kaia Pookie baby grow up — the moments most people don’t really talk about, but we all relish.

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