Lame Adventure 307: Dental Floss Hunting

I spent my Mother’s Day breaking out in a drenching sweat worthy of birthing a litter as I combed the entire Upper West Side in search of Johnson & Johnson’s elusive Reach Woven Dental Floss.

The Cadillac of dental floss.

It was very warm on Sunday with the temperature topping 80 degrees.  Had I known I was going to reenact the Bataan Death March hunting for my preferred variety of tooth twine, I would have ignored my horror at flaunting my pasty white limbs and worn shorts.

Pasty white forearm dotted with freckles, liver spots and melanoma(?).

Yet, I was not anticipating any difficulty locating this product that has been reliably available for over a decade at my local Price Wise Discount store that is a short walk from my sanctum sanctorum.  Granted, Price Wise is the only store in all of Manhattan where I have ever seen this floss, but it never occurred to me that a day would come when they would no longer carry it. Upon reflection, in my youth I never thought that Pillsbury would cease making my favorite after school snack, the chalk-flavored Space Food Sticks, so from a tender age I have been familiar with retail-world disappointment.

I questioned the Price Wise manager about my floss.  He said that it was not in their most recent shipment of Reach products.  In fact, he was unsure if they would ever carry it again.  Upon hearing that, I felt stabbed.

Yet, I remained upright and I hotfooted into countless Duane Reades, two CVS’s, and some stand-alone pharmacies including one on 72nd Street where a woman that appeared to be a direct descendant of Lurch stalked me.  Three times she made an overt point to walk in front of me to coo:

Daughter of Lurch:  Pardon me.

How I regretted not carrying a mallet.

I left without my floss, crestfallen with the futility of my effort.  How could this tragedy happen?  Western civilization as I knew it, albeit predominantly from a steady diet of watching and reading cartoons, was in freefall.

I prefer gentle gum care products.  I’m a fan of soft bristle toothbrushes, but I’ll resist rhapsodizing poetically about the merits of those because they don’t require I don a pith helmet and hire a search party to find.  Regular waxed dental floss is punishing.  It makes me feel like I’m sliding stiff cable between my teeth without the benefit of accessing HBO.

Mint. Waxed. Nasty.

I returned home, floss-less, frustrated and sweaty.  As I quaffed a quart of iced tea, I searched for my missing floss online.  My usual go-to source, Amazon, had a 50-yard dispenser for $12.95 from an off-site seller that doubles as an extortionist.  Or, if I wanted to invest $89.95 and another $19.99 in shipping, I could be the proud owner of a case of 144 5-yard packets from BuyNowDirect.

CountMeOut

Next, I went on Reach’s web site, just to torture myself further for I was expecting to learn that the product has been discontinued.  Much to my surprise, it not only still exists but Reach referred me to Drugstore.com where it’s available for $3.29 per 50-yard packet. Drugstore.com claims that it is temporarily out of stock, but it will ship in a week or two, probably because I’m the first person that has ordered it all year.  Orders exceeding $25 qualify for free shipping.  Therefore, I’ve ordered eight 50-yard packs.  According to my abacus, four-football-fields-worth of woven floss should last me 800 days.  That translates into two years, two months and ten days if I use the recommended 18 inches of floss per day.  And I will do exactly that even if every tooth in my head falls out between now and then.  In that case, I’ll just use it between my toes and behind my ears.

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35 responses to “Lame Adventure 307: Dental Floss Hunting

  1. So entertaining ! My sweetie will only use “Oral B 3D Glide” floss and I’ve gotten so tired of searching for it that I finally started ordering it from Amazon…..sad

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    • There were all kinds of Oral B products in my search, but in my delirium it didn’t register what they were. I’m going to check out your site later this evening. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Queen of Pentacles

    Did you know that drugstore.com is the online component of Rite-Aid? I notice you didn’t walk downtown – there’s one on 70th & Broadway which may have your Reach Gentle Gum.

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    • No, I was not aware of any of that until you enlightened me Q of P. I completely FORGOT to check out that Rite-Aid proving that this blog isn’t named Lame Adventures for nuthin’.

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  3. Yes- our favorite too- now impossible to find! Used to get it via Amazon in huge quantities per their offerings….almost out….

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    • Before you do run out like Yours Truly, if you have a Rite-Aid near where you live, go there (Queen of Pentacles should get a referral fee), or just order it from drugstore.com!

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  4. Who knew floss could factor so significantly in a Sunday’s success or failure. In fact, I didn’t even know woven floss existed. What kind of dental hygiene planet have I been living on? Clearly, I’m the lame one here.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

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  5. Snoring Dog Studio

    I finally did something sensible and ordered my favorite type of floss in the 50 yard quantity. I don’t like having to buy the stuff – not that I’m ashamed of flossing – but it takes up space and time on my list of things to get. And I can’t find it at my grocery store so I have to make a special trip. People are particular about their floss – those of us who do floss. I don’t like the woven stuff. I like the waxed, regular but not the extra thick kind that my dentist suggested. Never again. I walked around with a string hanging from my teeth the entire day.

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    • It is true that people are very particular about their floss. Maybe one’s preferred floss should rate right up there with the classic topics one should avoid talking about at work (unless you work where I do since these are about the only topics we discuss over here) — sex, religion and politics?

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  6. Not a huge fan of floss in general, but I guess it is something we should all do. I rather enjoy a little implement my dentist provided just about a year ago. I am not sure what you call it, but it resembles a micro-bottle brush that you use to clean between the teeth. It has the added bonus of providing a work out for the gums. Sort of toughens them up. I guess I needed it last year because when he was doing the semi-annual teeth cleaning, my gums became enflamed. I don’t want to go into the gory details, but the spit sink looked like the prom scene from Carrie. But, as usual, I digress…

    Ironic that your Monday post dealt with oral hygiene as both I and child # 3 (aka daughter #2) had our checkups on Saturday. The only enticement for her was that she got to drive from Glen Ridge to Livingston–about a 20 minute drive. She just got her permit about a month ago, so any excuse to drive. Well two instances of note at the dentist. One was funny, the other not so much.

    On the up side of things, child # 3 mentioned mentioned to her dentist that she drove that morning and that she had done a pretty good job maneuvering the behemoth (Honda Odyssey minivan), the only problem being my complaint that she hugs the curb too much. Well, I have to admit she doesn’t hug it TOO badly, but after nearly 35 years of driving the vantage point provided by the passenger seat is a little unnerving. To which Lisa (the dentist–apparently she and child # 3 are on a first name basis) admitted she, too, had the same reaction when she accompanied her daughter. Lisa’s comment was priceless: “Hey, you aren’t delivering mail here, move over.” I wish I had another kid learning to drive so I could try that out. Of course, we don’t have mail boxes in Glen Ridge, so the metaphor is somewhat lost on my kids.

    On the downside was the fact that I had to commisserate with another parent in the waiting room whose 11 year old son was about to have 6 extractions. His primary teeth are not budging and they had to come out. This was compounded by the fact that, according to his mom, he suffers from anxiety. So much so that he is prescribed Valium. Yep, 11 years old and flying around on Valium. His mom hid the fact that the teeth were going to be pulled. Despite the Valium and nitrous, the kids was screaming like the proverbial Irish Banshee. Parenthood.

    Sorry for the long post, but some days are more lame than others.

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    • In my day, we had Dad-Daughter dances (he and I didn’t bother; we much preferred attending baseball and football games together where he, the perfect father, always allowed me to pound a beer) not Dad-Daughter dentist appointments. You’re so contemporary Mike! I do appreciate this vivid account of your Saturday LA. Yet, I must admit the horrors that poor boy underwent unloading half a dozen teeth at once convinces me that when he grows up and the tables turn, he’s going to take revenge on his mother.

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      • The mom was whining that she needed the Valium cuz the kid would never trust her again. Possibly. But if he was horribly anxious, I guess telling him wouldn’t have made things better. She said he’s been that way since he was 18 months. Maybe so, but when I asked her whether he was in therapy she said no. I guess it is simply a matter of better living through chemicals. Glad I have my own problems.

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  7. Who knew you’d have to be such a gumshoe to find your favorite floss?

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  8. I looked all over for a L’oreal product that they discontinued. Why do they do that???
    I am glad you were able to order yours on line! Too funny!

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    • Kiehl’s discontinued my favorite shampoo. That was a crisis. Have you looked for your shampoo off drugstore.com’s sister site: http://www.beauty.com/? My eight packs of floss arrived today. I was not expecting the delivery so soon. It brought to mind what Bing Crosby said when he won the Academy Award, “I couldn’t be more surprised if I won the Kentucky Derby.”

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  9. Ooo this is why you were so happy last night. Congrats on your floss, crazy :p

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    • I’m thinking about writing an ode to woven floss it makes me so happy!

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      • Sounds to me like you still have a tube or two of the aforementioned product lying around your apartment.

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        • Actually, what I’ve been trying to figure out is what I did with my can of WD40 — to fix a terribly loud creak in my swivel chair. Too bad I blew out those precious memory cells in my youth.

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      • Admittedly 10W-40 is the preferred oil (synthetic or otherwise). Absent the Quaker State, have you thought of substituting Wesson Canola Oil. Polyunsaturated and better overall for the cholesterol-minded among us.

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      • Okay I re-read your reply and you clearly stated WD40. My bad. Certainly a lot less messy than motor oil or cooking oil. Nonetheless, I still stand behind the Canola oil. For a variety of reasons…

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        • You think I have Canola oil? Like you, I’m Italian. I only have olive oil — and it’s the good stuff. I may live like an impoverished spartan but my oil is A-list. I’m not going to use it on a chair, but I’m sure you’re right and it would work. Gee, I now have so much woven dental floss flowing out of my eyeballs, wish I could use that to fix that creak.

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  10. As Rachel would say, EVOO is the only way to go. Just figured the Canola was cheaper.

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  11. 3 in 1 oil will fix a variety of squeaks. Wal Mart. How’s that for an exotic source

    Things they stopped stocking include refills for safety razors. I can’t use those stupid multiblade white elephants as there is not enough clearance between blades for whiskers to pass through. I stocked up with dozens of blades when I saw what was happening. Hey – I can get more online from Germany when the day comes I run out..

    I use plain unwaxed floss and had not considered one might be a connoisseur. I must admit not to going through the length you do however.

    I started looking for fluoride free toothpaste and found out the old stand by – a bit of table salt. I recall using that with baking soda as a boy.

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    • Hey John, thanks for the greasy referral. That’s very cool of you to take the time to comment. NYC is still a Walmart-free zone, but there are scores of hardware stores where I’m sure I could find 3 in 1 oil. I have concluded that one’s floss preference is as sacred as one’s religious affiliation, political party and whether they go Mac or PC.

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  12. You are not alone. Not in the LOVE of the woven floss (I won’t use anything else), nor in the battle to find it. I recently moved from Queens to Cali and it has been a trial to locate it each and every time. I blame my dentist for turning me on to it years ago :0)

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    • Just do what I did and order it off drugstore.com. They’re not paying me to endorse their site. Hmm … They should! Thanks for visiting Lame Adventure-land and commenting Becki!

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  13. Woven floss lover

    Just picked up 11 containers of Reach cleanpaste woven floss at my local 5below store. I saw it in a bin and couldn’t believe they were only $1.99. This is the absolute BEST floss out there. As the woven floss flattens in between teeth, the gritty coating in the floss cleans out so thoroughly. Waxed floss just glides over the scum. What is the matter with Johnson and Johnson? Are they going to stop making baby shampoo? I live in New Jersey.

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  14. I’m in Canada – west coast – and found two packages in a Safeway yesterday, but the woven floss seems to have vanished. Amazon and other on-line sellers now all say “product not available”, and getting a response from Johnson&Johnson has proven futile. If there was a woven floss black market, I’d support it!

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    • Sorry that finding this floss is such a struggle for you Leigh in western Canada. When I clicked the drugstore.com hyperlink, it was still available and at a deal where you get a dollar off if you buy two packs. That might offset the expense of shipping by about a thread (had to work in weave somehow in this response). Thanks for visiting!

      V

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