Scottsdale pediatric dentist Dr. Lee Weinstein, the dental director of Arizona’s Medicaid program, spoke in a small room with young adults at Jewish Family and Children’s Service. At first, I wasn’t sure the conversation would lead to much. Some of those at the table made it clear dentists do not conjure up positive experiences. One young woman, the mother of a six-month-old, even described scary sounds of a dentist’s office. But the more everyone talked, the more a door opened. Some listened in surprise as Dr. Weinstein explained just how early parents should start caring for an infant’s teeth. Questions followed about wisdom teeth, Medicaid, jobs available in a dentist’s office and the safety of traveling to Mexico for dental work.
Dr. Weinstein invited everyone to see his office by showing them a video of him at work with patients. Before an hour had passed, I got the sense the meeting offered, at a minimum, a shared insight of each other’s different worlds. This was especially true when Dr. Weinstein told the young mother it is essential she find a pediatrician and challenged her in a friendly way to do so by Christmas. There was even a broader conversation about how, in every day life, asking careful questions of others is key when making important family decisions. Everyone even found a way to laugh when someone asked him, “What are you?” Some noticed Dr. Weinstein’s East Coast accent and found it fascinating.