Depalma Cmyk2

Creating calm: Holistic dental seminar gets 'off the yoga mat'

Nov. 1, 2017
Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, focuses "neuromuscular imbalances and stresses" that are present in the clinical setting.

Ann-Marie DePalma

As hygienists and oral health professionals, we know that health is not the absence of disease but a state of complete and total well-being. Christel Autuori, RDH, RYT, FAADH, MA, has created a fun, interactive program that moves beyond the traditional oral-systemic connection to the multidimensional perspective that is holistic health. Her program, titled “21st Century Dental Hygiene: An Integrative Practice,” encompasses mind, body, and spirit, and reflects the evolving practice of medicine and dentistry from conventional Western medicine to the integrative approach to health and well-being.

Christel examines mindfulness, staying present in the moment, and how to listen to the body, mind, and soul so that one can become aware of the subtle signs that indicate imbalance. She explores mindfulness techniques, yoga, energy healing, food and herbal preparations, aromatherapy, meditation, guided imagery, Ayurveda, and aspects of traditional Chinese medicine. Participants learn to incorporate healing modalities into not only hygiene treatment plans, but also into everyday life for better health and vitality.

As a certified holistic stress management instructor and certified integrative health coach, Christel presents stress management workshops titled, “Creating Calm in the Chaos,” and “When Life Starts Rocking, You Keep Rolling.” For dental hygiene students and faculty she presents, “Rebalance, Reset, and Respond.” Her experiences as a hygienist and yoga teacher are blended into “Acuyoga for You and Your Patient,” and “Yoga Off the Mat and Into the Dental Operatory.”

The “Creating Calm” program reviews diseases that may result from long-term chronic stress, discusses abdominal or belly breathing, and reviews stress-busting practices. The “Yoga Off the Mat” program is designed to alleviate the neuromuscular imbalances and stresses that clinical practice can produce. All members of the dental team will benefit from Christel’s presentations since patients often ask about herbs, natural products, and other healthy and alternative substances or practices. The dental team should be familiar with these products and approaches in order to advise patients, as well as to maintain their own health.

Seminar Agenda

Christel Autuori’s program examines the many factors that contribute to health and discusses the importance of balance in health and healing. Objectives of the program are:

  • To identify areas on the Wheel of Health, and various factors that contribute to health.

  • To describe three benefits of meditation and its relationship to health.

  • To explain the phrase, “Food is medicine; medicine is food.”

  • To name three foods or herbs that have antimicrobial properties.

  • To name two approaches or modalities that can reduce inflammation in the body.

Christel began her career as a dental assistant and is a graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists/MCPHS University and the University of Bridgeport. She earned a master’s degree in integrative health and healing, and is a certified integrative health coach trained at Duke University Integrative Medicine. She was a participant in the Forsyth Rotunda Project for Dental Hygiene Expanded Duties, and is a certified yoga teacher and Reiki master. Christel is a fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the founder and owner of Integrative Health of Connecticut, which provides yoga classes and programs on health, wellness, and stress management.

She is also the director of the Institute for Holistic Health Studies and an adjunct faculty member at Western Connecticut State University. Christel has been honored with numerous awards and is the recipient of the Forsyth/MCPHS Esther Wilkins Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008, and the Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction in 2011. She is a member of a number of professional dental hygiene and health associations.

Christel enjoys helping others and has volunteered with Cape CARES, a nonprofit organization based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She has led teams of dental and medical professionals on mission trips to the mountains of Honduras to provide care where there are no doctors or dentists.

In addition to delivering direct patient care, she has developed programs of oral and general health education for elementary schools and the entire community. Christel feels it’s her calling to share her knowledge with others to promote healthy lifestyles. Her presentations reflect her enthusiasm as she presents programs that speak from her heart while allowing participants to smile, laugh, and even enjoy some chocolate!

As a life-long learner, Christel wants to learn as much as she can about health and wellness, including learning more about reflexology, acupuncture, and other healing modalities. She describes herself as enthusiastic, positive, and compassionate. She has been a continuous member of ADHA since her graduation from Forsyth and is concerned about the declining enrollment in the ADHA and the apparent apathy about membership displayed by many hygienists. She believes that there is strength in numbers and says that hygienists who are not members are being short-sighted by not recognizing the benefits of membership. Without strong membership, she thinks hygienists could lose control of the profession’s future.

Christel was drawn to dental hygiene because of the profession’s ability to help others and work with many different people, not only dental team members but a variety of patients. She has enjoyed the flexibility of working in different practices, participating in research projects, and teaching in clinical settings. She appreciates delivering direct patient care while helping others enjoy good oral and systemic health. Christel is proud of her contributions to the underserved, whether as a participant in the Forsyth Project, volunteering with the Connecticut Mission of Mercy, or with Cape CARES.

She would not have done anything differently in her career since she has enjoyed all aspects of her experiences. Dental hygiene’s focus on prevention of oral disease and motivating patients to take responsibility for their health is most gratifying for her. Her career as an integrative health coach, consultant, and educator is a natural progression from dental hygiene. Participating in any of Christel’s presentations allows participants to learn to “nurture wellness from within.” For more information about Christel or her programs, contact [email protected] or visit

Thought for the month: Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. —William Arthur Ward

Wishing all a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is the 2017 recipient of the Esther M. Wilkins Distinguished Alumni Award of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene/Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie has authored chapters in several texts for dental hygiene. She can be reached at [email protected].