Dental Missions at Home and Abroad

Posted Feb 09, 2022

Dental Missions at Home and Abroad

Timothy Tam

This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of FOCUS.

In the province of British Columbia, there are significant disparities in oral health care. The low income, working poor, and socially disadvantaged groups, including new refugees from the developing world have an increasingly high level of dental problems. This includes rampant caries and baby bottle syndrome. The main reason for these phenomena are mainly linked to inequalities in access to oral health care. There are other barriers such as financial constraints and lack of insurance benefits for minimum wage earners, hence we continue to observe the deep and persistent poverty in addition to social ills such as the rise of homelessness and drug addiction, which contribute to poor oral care.

The British Columbia dental care benefit system is extremely limited when it comes to coverage for the low income demographic. The coverage barely offsets the cost of running a health care facility without compromising quality and standard of care as a dental practitioner, particularly when it comes to anesthetic services in dental care. Our charitable non-for-profit Broadway Anesthetic Center is a response to the need to improve access to anesthetic services in dental care to needy children in our community. Currently, there is a long waiting list for access to anesthetic services in dental care for children under the age of 4 at the BC Children’s Hospital. Healthy children over the age of 4 are not eligible for anesthetic services. They have to go elsewhere for dental restorations.

Broadway Anesthesia is a non-profit society and its local mission is to serve the public in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ through providing dental services under general anesthesia for those children who need such service regardless of their background, race, culture, or financial status in British Columbia. Our values are to serve others by giving back to the community as a witness of God’s love. This is funded by the Tam Foundation, a charitable organization accredited by the College of Dental Surgeons of BC and Canada Revenue Agency. We believe that by God’s sovereignty and His wonderful grace and mercy, we can fulfill the mandate of loving God and caring for humanity as we commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love others as ourselves. We believe we are co-creators of God’s work on this side of heaven.

We also observed that dental care is one of the greatest unmet needs of the poor not only in cities right at home, but also all around the world. While even the poor have access to cell phones and the internet as tools of communications due to 5G initiatives and competitions, dental care is comparatively treated as a low priority and underrepresented in healthcare mission work. We felt called to respond to the unfulfilled need and the calls for aid from the developing world, and have taken the opportunity to engage in dental missions in Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and most recently Bali, Indonesia in June/July 2019 with EMAS and CMDA teams from Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver. Our team included medical practitioners, dentists, a nurse, a pharmacist, and students.

We need your prayer support as we recognize that we are all engaging in a spiritual battle day and night. Please pray for protection against demonic influences, safety of travel and health hazards. Most important of all, please pray for the awareness of God’s presence among us and boldness to share God’s message of love: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.