A Dentist on a Mission
The dentist. Oh, that lovely dreaded yet necessary appointment you are obligated to attend every six months. The only way I can get my 5 year-old to go to the dentist and not cower in fear is if I tell her it’s time to get your “teeth glittered.” Glitter always wins; remember that.
Luckily for me, on this day, my appointment with a dentist was not to get my teeth cleaned (and leave with a trail of drool dripping down my chin, all while acting like I was not phased at all because all of his patients do this, right?). Instead, I met with him to discuss his dental career and missionary work. This I could handle.
I left my interview with Dr. Raj M. Patel in a complex state. My thoughts ran in a million different directions. My trusty notebook, which I have relied upon time and time again to remind me of important details, stared back at me with only a few cat scratches on its lines. I had to think back and reassure myself that I did not indeed embarrassingly slobber down my chin during the interview.
If my mouth fell wide open, this reaction was only because I was completely enthralled in our conversation. In fact, “Inspired” would be a more appropriate term. Dr. Patel’s love for life, for his family, for his clients and for the world is incredibly refreshing. Born in Zambia, Africa, and studying in London, his love for travel and education blossomed early on. He went on to receive his dental degree from the University of Oklahoma School of Dentistry. He completed his educational goals by studying law at The University of Tulsa Law School and then attending Grace School of Ministry. Patel, D.D.S. has been practicing dentistry for 23 years and has been in his current location for 18. He offers a variety of services including, cosmetic, preventative restorative care, IV conscious sedation, and Botox/Juvederm XC. He is currently a member of the American Dental Society, Oklahoma Dental Association, Tulsa County Dental Association, and the Oklahoma Bar Association.
His faith has been at the forefront in his life, so using his gifts to help people beyond his patients was fitting. Patel, D.DS., has served on medical missions helping people in need of cosmetic dental work, for 12 years. Through his church and Joyce Meyer Ministries: Hand of Hope, he has embarked on mission trips all over the world including Madagascar, Thailand, Haiti, Russia, Argentina. This year he took his 17-year-old daughter, Siennah, with him to his homeland for her first medical mission trip before starting college. He calls the trip an experience he will never forget. Next year he hopes to take his 15-year-old son, Syon. All of this, he says, is possible “thanks to God and my wonderful wife who supports me and what I do.”
Patel, D.D.S., says the “need is big” and helping those in need has humbled him to appreciate all of his blessings. His nickname, and his “calling” is “working 2 square inches,” referring to the area of his work space. His goal is to eventually do mission work in every country on the continent of Africa. A dream I’m certain he will attain.
Beyond his passion for missions, you can spot Patel, D.D.S., pounding rubber to pavement. Five years ago he began running, and hasn’t looked back. He has run in 43 marathons overall, including three Boston Marathons, and five Tulsa marathons. Conquering a marathon in all 50 states is a bullet point on his bucket list. Dr. Patel’s next goal is to run in the world Marathon Challenge, which includes seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Thanks to inspiration from Patel, D.D.S., my couch-potato evenings will get a face-lift.
Someday, Patel, D.D.S., hopes to do mission work full-time, but for now he says he is thankful to his clients and family for helping him to fulfill his calling. When I asked Patel, D.D.S., why people should come to him for their dental needs, he had a hard time finding his answer. Not because he didn’t have one but because he did not want to come off boastful. It’s a characteristic I was aware of from the beginning of our interview, as he was humble and grateful about every part of his life. When he eventually shared his answer, he put it simply: “We are here for you.”