"I'm sorry, my mouth is so bad," a young woman tells me with downcast eyes and a look of shame on her face.
"I've been afraid to come because I know it's going to be bad news," a middle-aged man says through sighs.
"I would really like to save my teeth but I can only do what insurance covers," an elderly women laments.
Every day someone sits in my chair and tells me that they have not been to the dentist in years due to lack of insurance. My patients tell me that without adequate dental insurance, they cannot afford to have any dental treatment. They tell me that it is either paying rent or paying for dental treatment, it is feeding their children or it is dental treatment. It is a vicious cycle that we see in all areas of health care. Those uninsured or under-insured put off necessary preventative evaluations and treatment due to cost, the problem list grows, and only when it becomes an urgent issue is care sought. And it breaks my heart every time.
But the Lord hears the cry of the poor and He has a place for them as heirs in the Kingdom of Heaven (see James 2:5). And what can I do? I can honor every person that walks through the doors of my clinic. I can invite these people to sit with me and share their stories, their pain, their situation. I can listen with compassion and provide the best care to my ability.
The Lord give us each an opportunity to care for one another—to love our neighbor as oneself—every single day. And through this, to show them His love and bring them closer to Him.
The Catechism is brief about this point but very direct.
Dr. Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm is a wife to Paul, mom to three little ones, and practices dentistry at a public health community center for low income families in the Bay Area, California. She (unashamedly) thinks ice cream is its own food group, does not leave the house without wearing sparkly earrings, and is an enthusiastic proponent of the Oxford comma. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book called Rise Up. Find out more about her here.