Does brushing your teeth really matter?
This may seem like a silly question, but bear with me…
I don’t wash my car every day. (In fact, it’s been looking a bit grimy these days, as I navigate all the leaves, pollen and mud of the season.) But once a month, I aim to drive through a carwash that brushes, soaps, scrubs, sprays and rinses, my car better than I could ever do at home.
And my car is quite happy with this arrangement. This monthly cleaning doesn’t impact its function in the least!
So, why can’t I do the same with my teeth? Why can’t I go to the dentist the recommended frequency of once every six months, and have them deep clean my teeth without having to do the boring, monotonous work of using a toothbrush twice (or more) a day?
You, of course, know the answer.
If you only went to the dentist, and didn’t care for your teeth at home, you would soon have a jar of teeth instead of a mouthful of teeth.
Your teeth need to be effective to do the work (dicing and chewing) that your digestion requires of them. But they don’t impact digestion alone! Teeth exist in an environment that benefits the rest of your body when properly cared for (something called the oral-systemic connection.)
This daily upkeep vs. periodic tune-up is a distinction that the author, speaker, and marketing culture expert Simon Sinek calls Intensity vs Consistency.
I love this distinction! And I think we should apply it to health and healthcare.
Intensity is the machine-powered car wash. It’s the deep cleaning at the dentist. It’s the tune-up.
As a culture, we love Intensity. Once and done!
Consistency, on the other hand, is daily brushing. It’s also sleep, exercise, relaxation, connection, and of course, diet. Consistency is tracking your trends and habits to see what’s working for you and what’s not. Consistency is identifying your non-negotiables and making those routines as practiced as, well, brushing your teeth!
Yet consistency isn’t always fun. It isn’t sexy. And it doesn’t appear to have any effect…at first.
You don’t get six-pack abs after one workout, and you don’t say goodbye to your irritable bowel disease after eliminating sugar for one day, or even one month (and oftentimes, eliminating one thing, like sugar, even if you do it completely, won’t have the desired effect all on its own, without any other changes.)
Consistency is the key to success in health and healing.
Consistency is actually one thing that can set you apart in the ever-growing and crowded field of practitioners who also work with diet and lifestyle modification in one way or another (even if not functionally.)
You’re the one (when you have the proper tools) who can deduce which changes need to be implemented with Consistency.
You’re the one who can find your client’s Inspiring Factor—their motivation, or as I’ve come to think of it, their “compass”—and effectively eliminate the need for compliance, creating intrinsic motivation to follow through on the recommendations made.
And you are the one who can provide the consistent support, guidance, and ever-changing recommendations as your client continues on her path towards wellness.
Consistency is one of your superpowers!
Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Functional Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.