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"We just happen to be priests with dental training..."

Sarah nervously glanced around the bustling dental clinic lobby. She’d suffered from tooth pain for quite a while, but dental care was an expense she had to put off until the pain became unbearable. A Watermark Urgent Care team member prayed with Sarah, and her anxiety seemed to subside as she headed into the office for a tooth extraction.

In addition to offering people in need treatment for cough, flu, infection, earaches, rashes, lacerations, minor trauma, and injury, Watermark Urgent Care also began providing urgent care dental services under the leadership of Dr. Kevin Aduddell in 2015.

“I saw that Watermark had a medical clinic and asked if they had considered dental services. The team was open and even renovated two rooms so volunteer dentists could see patients on-site.”

Since then, a team of dedicated volunteer dentists, hygienists, and assistants have seen patients weekly, providing screenings and tooth extractions. It became obvious that the community’s demand for affordable urgent dental care outweighed the team’s capacity. That’s where Dr. John Wallace stepped in.

In 2018, Dr. Wallace and his team at Dallas Oral Surgery Associates opened the doors of their dental practice quarterly for a Watermark Health Dental Extraction Satellite Clinic. They host dental health professionals, pastoral care team members, and other volunteers to serve people who need tooth extractions or other procedures. With their larger facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, trained staff, and a network of oral surgeons, the team can see dozens of patients in one morning, providing much-needed relief for the wait list of those needing extractions. For Dr. Wallace and his staff, it’s rewarding to be part of a medical mission in his own community.

“I’ve traveled around the world providing dental services for people in need,” said Dr. John Wallace. “But there also is a big backlog of work here in DFW. It’s a gift to use my career skills in service to God’s Kingdom. This is about much more than the number of teeth we take care of in a given day. It’s about engaging with patients at a vulnerable time and meeting their spiritual needs.”

Nothing Superficial

More patients shuffle into the lobby, including a woman from Ethiopia, families from the Middle East, and Spanish-speakers from Central and South America. Pastoral care volunteers help check in patients and begin spiritual conversations. One of those volunteers is Julie Breedlove, who is speaking with a teenage girl and her parents. The girl talks a little about her spiritual background, opening the door for Julie to share the gospel with the entire family.

“That’s what I love about serving with Watermark Urgent Care; there is nothing superficial about any conversation,” said Julie. “Asking patients about their lives breaks down walls and opens the opportunity to share about Christ. At the Clinic, we regularly ask patients if we can pray for them, and I can’t recall anyone turning me down. It’s a question that immediately softens the heart.”

Dr. Kevin Aduddell agrees that connecting with a patient’s heart and understanding their spiritual health are the most rewarding aspects of serving with Watermark Health.

“We see patients who are in a lot of pain. Our conversation begins with their dental problem, but often there are struggles in their lives and spiritual needs, and our team is here to help with those as well. Our goal is spiritual healing through the gospel, pastoral care, and connecting patients with the ministries at Watermark or elsewhere in the community. It’s such a gift for me to be able to use my profession to help someone with the temporary pain they are in and help meet a deeper spiritual need at the same time.”

Beyond the Clinic

A 60-year-old man stood at the front desk in tears, not because of his tooth ache, but because he learned that his treatment would cost just $10. Volunteer Luke Dosselman explained that the services were low-cost because of the generosity of members of the local church – generosity that Luke wants to incorporate into his future career.

“I’m going to school because I want to serve like this,” Luke said. “Seeing Dr. Wallace open his office to the community reminds me that I can be on-mission in my future office and be innovative in how I meet gaps in the healthcare system.”

Dr. Aduddell and Dr. Wallace encourage the team to do just that as the end they day in prayer.

“In 1 Peter 2, we’re reminded that we’re all priests, a part of a royal priesthood called to share the Good News of Christ with the world,” said Kevin. “We just happen to be priests and pastors that have a unique dental training. May we use that to God’s glory.”

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