Searching for Floss

Nothing reminds me that I’m in a different country like being unable to find something as basic as dental floss.

I remember looking at my floss while packing my toothbrush and thinking I wouldn’t need it, I could just get it in China. Don’t ever do that. For something so simple and so small, just bring it and save the trouble of buying it. Little did I know it wouldn’t be something basic and readily available in China.

Baby boy started complaining that his teeth hurt. Sure enough, he had something stuck in there, probably 韭菜 or another innocuous green. I had him brush his teeth to no avail. It was so bad that he said one of weirdest things I could imagine a two year old saying: “I want to go back to America because America has floss!”

I couldn’t watch my baby boy cry so I asked my mother in law if she had floss. She looked at me like I was crazy. It was a similar reaction to what I had when my father in law wanted toothpicks in America. He was visibly uncomfortable without them and I was kind of perplexed as to why he needed them. My mil had no idea where could she possibly find floss. I assumed it would be everywhere or anywhere that sold toothbrushes. 

Off we went to several supermarkets with no luck. I asked one of the store employees and she had no idea what “tooth string” was. At first she assumed I was mispronouncing something then realized it was some weird foreign item they didn’t carry.

On our disheartened walk home, we came across a dentist. Boom, floss exists at dentist offices for 20 rmb! We could have also gotten a cleaning for 50 rmb, but I didn’t trust my toddler to cooperate. 

Back at home, I offered my Nainai some. She side eyed it and waved it off as if to say she didn’t need my fancy modern contraption. Again, this is simply hygienic string. How is it these people have never heard of or used floss? I flossed baby boy’s little teeth and something hard and black came out. It was almost like plastic. I have no idea what this kid has been putting in his mouth!

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