Inside Dental Hygiene
February 2020
Volume 16, Issue 2

The Power of Whole-Body Health

Your fitness journey can benefit not only yourself but also your patients

Uche Odiatu, DMD

How can you turn into a tooth cleaning, intermittent fasting, wellness-focused machine? For me, seeing myself in a three-way mirror one day fueled my fitness journey, and experiencing the benefits to my career as a dental professional has helped me maintain that motivation. Any dental hygienist can reap those same benefits.

My father was a big believer in the power of sport to support intellectual development, so calisthenics at dawn were a part of my daily routine from a young age. Healthy eating, being physically active, and doing well in school was the mandate for me and my three siblings. I was lifting weights, eating desiccated liver tablets, and gulping down protein shakes at age 15.

Lifting weights, seeing the resulting muscle development, and learning about the benefits of physical activity for the brain were part of my inspiration in becoming a dentist. Ironically, however, I ended up sacrificing workouts in favor of working longer hours as a new graduate trying to pay off student debt. My weight ballooned.

Seeing myself in a three-way mirror one day while trying on clothes at a store frightened me into developing a new perspective. I could not believe how far I had drifted off course. I enrolled in a personal training certification program with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, started eating healthy again, and began reading voraciously about nutritional sciences. I eventually also obtained certifications in boot camps, Zumba, and holistic life coaching.

Back into shape with a renewed passion all these years later, I was now talking quite naturally chairside with patients about whole-body health, and I saw first-hand just how eager they were for health care professionals to connect the dots. My own journey has taken me to more than 500 speaking engagements in seven countries over the past 15 years, but any dental hygienist or other dental professional can play a role in re-igniting patients' interest in their own health while also improving your own well-being. Getting healthy is about more than just looking great at college reunions; every dental professional should enjoy a happy, healthy, pain-free, and productive career.

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