Kristin Yont was born and raised on a Saskatchewan farm. She had two childhood dreams. The first was to become a motivational speaker, and the second was to be a dentist. Believing that it would be hard to make a living as a motivational speaker, she pursed her passion for dentistry. She enrolled at University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry and graduated in 1998 as a general dentist.
Fast forward 40 years from that little girl contemplating career paths. She not only realized both dreams but has embarked on a remarkable journey to help both dental patient and dental professional to better serve their patients by enhancing their own physical and mental well-being.
Kristin's journey began when she chose to practice dentistry in Calgary, Alberta, drawn by the city's supportive community and her own enthusiasm for progress. She was passionate about her profession and was dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those she served. As a young dentist, she thought she "had it made in the shade," but the pressures and stresses of running a dental practice and maneuvering life in general began taking a toll physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Amidst the professional stresses and challenges of running a dental practice, Kristin faced personal hurdles, including going through a divorce. These combined pressures led her to search for answers on how to cope with the crushing stress in her life. Her journey towards self-discovery and wellness took a significant turn when she attended a yoga class.
Initially skeptical about whether yoga could help her, Kristin began to notice a positive change on the days she practiced. She felt better, her days went more smoothly, and she experienced a greater sense of ease. Intrigued by this transformation, Kristin delved into researching the connections between mind and body, as well as the science behind yoga.
She became a registered yoga teacher, taught yoga teachers’ anatomy and connections and furthered her knowledge by completing a mind-body medicine program through Harvard Medical School and the Benson Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. She became accredited to teach the Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) program, which empowers individuals to take control of their wellness, reduce stress, and bolster resilience.
Kristin's dual career path combines her dental practice with offering the SMART program to help fellow dentists, dental offices, and healthcare providers manage the immense stress that accompanies their demanding profession. She refers to the program as "science-based solutions to antidote stress and increase your resiliency." Her 8-week program equips attendees with self-care tools to manage stress, reduce medical symptoms, and enhance their overall wellness and quality of life.
According to Kristin, the SMART program revolves around three essential components:
- Practicing Relaxation Techniques: It's essential to cultivate a relaxation routine, which helps individuals unwind and destress.
- Stress Awareness: Identifying stress is the first step to addressing it. Kristin emphasizes, "You can't reduce stress until you learn to identify it."
- And, Strategies for Stressful Situations: Once stress is recognized, it's crucial to learn and practice strategies to mitigate its impact effectively.
When asked what advice she would offer to current Dental Medicine (DMD) students, Kristin emphasizes the importance of self-care and wellness. She urges them to understand that they can participate in their wellness journey but need to carve out time to take care of themselves, emphasizing, "It starts with taking the time to get better from the inside-out. Life’s stressors will never go away, but we can all gain tools and develop skills to manage it better and create a healthy relationship to it."
Kristin Yont's passion for helping people has led her to a new apex in her career where she has fulfilled both her childhood dreams: helping people in her dental chair and supporting dental professionals in improving their physical and mental well-being. Her journey from a farm in Saskatchewan to a “motivational dentist” speaking at dental conferences, helping dentists and dental offices throughout Western Canada is not just a story of personal success but also a testament to the transformative power of self-care and wellness in the demanding field of dentistry.