Leading by Example

This evening I had a rather unexpected conversation with a lovely woman in a restaurant. She was a retired dentist and commented on how nice my teeth were. She had amazingly beautiful teeth for eighty-five years old. She said that in all of her eighty-five years, she has never had a cavity, and that her former clients enjoyed the same success. She said that all her clients had to do was follow her instructions – and no cavities. Her first instruction? Brush your teeth – before you leave the restaurant! I admit, I had never thought of doing this, and I really wasn’t thinking of starting now, but looking at her teeth set the scale to “maybe.” Her intact, original set of teeth was a stronger testament to me than any toothpaste commercial, dentist’s admonishment, or health column I had ever ingested. I wanted what she had – to be like her at eighty-five. And she had done it. So when she shared the secret of how she had achieved, I paid attention. She also said that she was healthy and strong, and in ten years, she wanted to be just as strong. I believed her. When I got home, I brushed my teeth. I even flossed and rinsed with fluoride; that’s usually Gold Star treatment for teeth in my house. But tonight, that became the minimum. The floor instead of the ceiling. The bar had been raised to before-exiting- brushing becoming normal. I began to think about where I could stash toothbrushes and a pocket-sized travel toothbrush. In the few minutes we spoke, the dentist had changed my outlook on dental care – without even trying – by leading by example.

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