What’s a teenager to do when her parents expect her to follow in the family’s footsteps, but down a path she does not want to take? “My family has a tradition of providing health care,” states Dr. Marjoorie Castro, “and my father wanted me to be a physician, but I hated the idea.” For Dr. Castro, the solution to this problem meant gathering more information about the work of her family members. The result has been over thirty years spent in dentistry.
“I decided to visit all of my health care family members, in order to know more about each area of medicine.” She found herself returning to the office of a certain cousin who happened to be a dentist. “The environment of her office was appealing. It was calm, cozy and comfortable there. Her treatment of patients was an inspiration. She was able to stop pain and create new smiles and confidence, changing lives with her dedicated work. I decided to study dentistry and I have never regretted it — not even once!”
Dr. Castro attended Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota, Colombia. Established in 1623, the institution is one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. After earning her dental degree, Dr. Castro went on to study endodontics. Endodontists specialize in root canal procedures and repairing cracked or damaged teeth.
She enjoyed nineteen years of private practice in Colombia and also served there as a teacher of endodontics. Although she’s too modest to mention it in her biography, Dr. Castro was called upon by Colombian officials to write a manual for endodontics, along with three of her dental colleagues. The result is the official guide for all general dentists working for the Colombian government.
While she enjoyed her work and life, the deteriorating political and security situation in Colombia weighed heavily on her family. Kidnappings by guerrillas are increasingly a threat and violence and instability nationwide creates a questionable future for young people. For the sake of their children, the Castros decided it was time for a change of location.
Fortunately for Dr. Castro and for dental patients in California, the United States has an immigration program that brings qualified dentists to serve specific populations in this country. The program helped Dr. Castro gain her certification as a dentist in the United States. Then, working through a company that specializes in helping low-income families get dental care, she came to the State of California in 2008.
The doctors at the Sacramento Dentistry Group became familiar with Dr. Castro’s work and extensive experience and welcomed her to work with their dental office. Eventually, when Dr. Brian Steele, the remaining founder, was interested in selling the practice, she even became the new director of the dental group. Her past leadership roles prepared her for the responsibility, and on the patient side Dr. Castro is incredibly qualified to deal with infected teeth, install or repair crowns, inlays and onlays and is known for making patients comfortable in the dental chair.
When asked how she continues to make dentistry interesting, Dr. Castro says: “I enjoy working with people. Establishing relationships with new patients makes me feel alive!” Of course, if you ask her about her favorite procedure in dentistry, the answer is root canals: “I feel like a fish in the water when doing root canals!”
Is the family tradition continuing? Dr. Castro and her husband of more than 25 years are very proud of their daughter, despite the fact that she did not become a dentist. Indeed, after studies at the Culinary Institute of America, she is now a sous chef in Napa. Dr. Castro cheerfully discusses her daughter’s culinary accomplishments with any of her patients that have an interest in cooking..
The Castros also have a son. He is currently studying pre-med at UC Davis. So there’s hope that he might become a dentist, or a doctor. One or the other will keep the relatives happy.