Meet Paul from San Antonio, Texas

Paul Slattery ran a successful dental practice for thirty years.  He graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1983 and sold his practice in 2013.  Volunteerism has always been a big part of his family’s life.  His wife, Barbara, has been a docent at Haven for Hope, a San Antonio nonprofit that helps those suffering from homelessness, since it was a construction site and she told Paul about the phenomenal facilities at the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic that were being prepared there.  Paul also heard from colleagues who volunteered at the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic about the wonderful experience they had.  Paul went to speak to the Director at the time and signed up to volunteer one day a month, doing primarily oral surgery.

Through his training and practice, he always knew the importance of oral health.  He saw the connection between oral health and physical, as well as emotional, wellbeing of his patients.  However, Paul’s work with the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic solidified his desire to help the patients the clinic saw daily.  After his retirement from private practice, he began working at the clinic twice a week doing removable prosthetics.

The problems Paul encountered at the clinic were very different than what he experienced in private practice.  In the practice, patients always went from teeth to teeth.  Patients were either replacing old dentures, or transitioning to immediate dentures where teeth were extracted and dentures inserted at the same appointment.  At the clinic, many patients have been without teeth for decades, or have been in various states of declining dentition for as long.  Some patients could not remember being pain free in their mouths for years on end.

For those patients with the experience and humiliation of being toothless, the delivery of a new set of dentures is always emotional.  One case has special meaning for Paul: a thirty-four year old mother of four who had been in an abusive relationship. Her husband had beaten her, and fractured teeth resulting in the extraction of all her teeth at the age of only twenty-one.  When Paul saw her, she had been without teeth for thirteen years.  She found the incredible strength to leave the relationship, and entered Haven for Hope with her children.  She eventually made her way to the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic.  Paul remembers crying with this remarkably strong woman as he gave her her new set of dentures. With her approval, the clinic took before and after pictures. Paul recalls that “at the one week follow up appointment, she was a different person.  She was smiling on her way into the clinic and overflowing with confidence”. 

Stories like this make the clinic such an important part of Paul Slattery’s life. He claims that “to be able to play a pivotal role in another person’s life is also life-changing for me”.  The Thank You’s for being pain free, for being able to smile and have confidence to go out in public and apply for a job, for no longer having to fear being judged simply because they could not afford basic dental care make working at the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic truly an honor for Paul. Even though Paul helps patients with their dental health, he does not “believe they realize how much more I receive from this experience than I could ever give to them”.  

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