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Dental Hygienists as Health Coaches: Benefits for Patients & Practices

Webinar Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Presented by Erin Howlett, RDH, BA, Mark Nelson MD, FACC, MPH, and Doug Thompson, DDS

View Recording

This webinar is FREE and open to the public!

Course Description

This webinar will provide a brief overview of the rising epidemic of obesity and chronic disease and its impact on oral and systemic health and the key role Dental Hygienists can play in helping their patient’s address these concerns.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn how to ask life changing questions to awaken a patient’s intrinsic motivation to change and help them clarify and write down their personal health goals.
  2. Appreciate the importance of a Personal Health Journal and putting pen to paper using SMART goals.
  3. Learn the difference a problem solving and preventive orientation versus the creative process: the generative process of creating optimal health and well-being.
  4. Understand the power of personal choice and how to create new healthy habits as well the importance of focusing on what we want to create vs. what we don’t want.

3 things a viewer will be able to immediately implement

  1. Language skills in asking open ended, questions and motivational interviewing (linking goals to outcomes) in a co-discovery dialogue.
  2. Utilizing a greater assessment skills in identifying a patient’s readiness for lifestyle and/or behavioral change.
  3. The ability to utilize evidence-based tools and systems that are proven to help motivate and provide the structure that turns intention into action in reaching health goals.


Erin Howlett, RDH, BA

Erin HowlettErin Howlett has worked in dentistry for over 30 years as a dental hygienist, implant treatment coordinator, speaker, and now with a focus on Oral Systemic health  – wellness and healthy lifestyle coaching. With a continuing passion for working towards creating optimal oral and overall health outcomes she’s grateful for the opportunity to study oral systemic health with Dr. Doug Thompson and is now Operations Manager for Wellness Dentistry Network. She’s also a proud member of the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health and ADHA.



Mark Nelson MD, FACC, MPH

Mark Nelson

Dr. Nelson is a retired cardiologist who transitioned from treating and managing disease to empowering and creating health and well-being for himself, his patients and many others. As an Optimal Health Practitioner, his Health Coach COPE Certification is in partnership with the Bradley McDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education, Villanova College and Nursing. He is an instructor who teaches our Habits of Health curriculum to fellow Health Coaches and others who want to study and understand habits of health and well-being.

As a independent certified OPTAVIA coach Dr. Nelson empowers people to create healthier lifestyles that enable them to reduce disease burden and reduce or eliminate medications. He coaches clients in the 6 core habits of health including healthy nutrition & hydration, healthy and predictable weight loss, restorative movement, recuperative sleep, mindfulness & stress reduction and creating healthy surroundings. Helping clients understand the importance of a healthy mindset is a critical component for creating
lifelong health. A healthy mind is emotionally intelligent with personal and social selfawareness rooted in mindfulness. Prior to becoming a Health Coach, Mark was a Board Certified Cardiologist who practiced in Albany N.Y. He received his baccalaureate degree from New York University, his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University Medical School, and his Masters of Public Health degree from Columbia University. In addition to years of clinical work, Mark worked for the Centers for Disease Control and did occupational health and safety work for the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union. Mark served on the Planning Committee of the New York State American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Women and Heart Disease Physician Education Initiative.

Mark has focused on disease prevention, health creation and optimal health education for many years, and has given numerous presentations (many CME accredited) to students, teachers, school nurses, health care professionals, patients and community groups on preventing, treating and reversing cardiovascular disease, heart healthy nutrition, preventing and reversing Type 2 Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes and preventing and reversing overweight and obesity. He also served as a consultant for the Healthy Heart 4 Kids website, answering student questions about the heart and heart disease. He authored an article for the New York State Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor Summer 2016 issue entitled: Moving Medicine into the Third Era: Creating Optimal Health and Well-Being.

As an Optimal Health Practitioner and business coach, Mark also works with health care professionals and health care entities helping them create health and wellbeing for health care professionals, patients, staff, employees and their communities. An avid sports enthusiast, Mark enjoys swimming, biking, running, skiing, snowboarding, yoga, the martial arts and kettle bell training. He lives in Troy with his wife, Margaret, also a Health and Business Coach with OPTAVIA. Mark and Margaret have a son, Jake, and a daughter, Molly.

Doug Thompson, DDS


Dr. Thompson began his dental career at age eighteen, working as an in-house laboratory technician. He graduated from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1996 and then completed a one-year hospital-based V.A. Residency in 1997. Dr. Thompson has completed hundreds of hours of continuing education at the Kois Center in Seattle, Washington. In 2015, he was offered and accepted a part-time faculty position teaching about personalized periodontal medicine. In 2016, he added the wellness dentistry topic to his teaching role.

In addition to his dental training, Dr. Thompson is pursuing a fellowship in anti-aging and regenerative medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging, Regenerative, and Functional Medicine. He has published professionally, and in 2015 Dr. Thompson founded the Wellness Dentistry Network, a community of dentists with a keen awareness of how oral conditions affect whole body health.