FYI

Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Category: Community (Page 1 of 3)

See how Delta Dental supports its local communities through the Delta Dental Community Foundation, and discover what network dentists are doing to serve their local communities.

Dentist spotlight: Dr. Lori D. Nelson

Meet Dr. Lori D. Nelson, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. A veteran who served her country in the United States Air Force, Dr. Nelson now serves her community both as a dentist and advocate for people with special needs. Let’s learn more.

A native of Albany, New York, Dr. Nelson attended the State University of New York at Albany before graduating as class valedictorian from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in 1983. Dr. Nelson completed a residency with the United States Air Force in 1984, then moved to Florida to finish her military career at Patrick Air Force Base. Today, Dr. Nelson is a partner in the Ultimate Smile Design dental practice in Palm Bay, Florida.

One of Dr. Nelson’s specialties is treating people with special needs, an interest she developed while interning at her dental school’s clinic. Dr. Nelson also serves those with special needs outside her practice as a board member of Promise in Brevard, which provides affordable, independent housing for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities.

Why did you decide to become a dentist?

I really wanted to be a dentist after volunteering at the dental clinic of a local hospital where I grew up. I always loved working with my hands and wanted to help others. I was encouraged by the fact that more women were getting into the field and it seemed like a wonderful occupation for someone who wanted to be a wife and mother. I come from a line of business owners and wanted to also own my own business. It seemed like a perfect fit for me!

How long have you been practicing?

I graduated from dental school in 1983. After a residency with the USAF, I opened my practice in 1986. It’s been a joy to spend my life serving patients all these years.

What’s the most rewarding part of your career?

Having been blessed to have a career spanning more than 35 years, I have many fulfilling experiences. Besides helping my patients deal with a variety dental issues, I enjoy learning new things in the practice of dentistry and stimulating my staff by introducing them to improvements in equipment, materials and modalities. I have the pleasure of working with my lovely partner and our associate, thereby mentoring the next generation of dentists.

Can you tell us one of your funniest stories from the dental office?

I think one of the nicest things to be able to do in a day is help someone laugh, especially at the dental office! Laughter is the best medicine, and it reminds us that no matter what’s happening, there’s still love and joy in this world. We’re always sharing with our patients our funny stories of life with our kids and spouses — and hot flashes.

What do you consider dentistry’s biggest challenge?

My initial thought was that dentistry’s biggest challenge is the same as it was all those years ago when I first opened my door: dealing with patients’ fears of treatment and being able to pay for it. However, I wonder if it’s more than that. I’m reminded of a conversation I had with an older patient last week. As we finished scanning his mouth for a new restoration, he said he felt that nothing has changed as much in his lifetime as dentistry. I think he’s right, and keeping up with all that change can be challenging. Invigorating, but challenging!

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy walking the beach, gardening, and reading all sorts of things. I’m blessed to chair the board of a local nonprofit, Promise in Brevard, which serves adults with developmental disabilities by providing housing and employment opportunities, thus giving them the independence they and their families have longed for.

How did your time in the service influence you as a dentist?

I truly enjoyed my time in the service. I was fortunate to have completed my general practice residency at Scott AFB and was then stationed at Patrick AFB. I learned a lot about the sacrifices of our men and women as they serve our country and also the sacrifices of their families. More specifically to dentistry, I learned to do a lot with a little and I learned to appreciate my staff. I began to grasp my entrepreneurial desires and understood I prefer the private practice of dentistry over the military or corporate practice.  


We’d like to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Nelson and thank her for the work she does for her community. To find out more about Dr. Nelson, visit the Ultimate Smile Design website or Facebook page.

Dentist spotlight: Dr. Francisca Mojica

Meet Dr. Francisca Mojica, DDS, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. Dr. Mojica is a San Jose, California–based dentist whose interest in dentistry as a child has become a lifelong passion.

The founder of the La Amistad Dental office, Dr. Mojica has been practicing dentistry for more than three decades. Fluent in Spanish, Dr. Mojica an active member in the American Dental Association, the California Dental Association and the Santa Clara County Dental Society.

How did you decide to become a dentist?          

I first became interested in becoming a dentist when I was in elementary school. My older sister at that time was attending a university for dentistry, and I would look at her notes and challenge myself to memorize the information. When I was in middle school, I would help my sister at her dental office by setting up the rooms for the patients and helping them put on their bibs. I would see patients come into the office with pain, and I knew that this career would be for me, because I wanted to help them feel better. This motivated me to go university and become a professional dentist so that I can help my community and put a smile on my patients’ face.

How long have you been practicing?

I’ve been practicing dentistry for 34 years.

What’s the most rewarding part of your career?

The most rewarding part of my career is when I’m able to give my patients their smile back and they leave happy.

Can you tell us one of your funniest stories from the dental office?

One day I was doing a crown preparation for my patient. I asked him to close his mouth for about five minutes so that the material for the impression I had placed in his mouth could dry up, so he did as I asked. The next step was to make his temporary crown. For this step he needed to keep his mouth open so that the acrylic could dry, but to my surprise the patient thought that he needed to close his mouth and as he did that, he bit down on my finger. I told him to open, but he got confused and didn’t hear me, so he kept on biting down on my finger — ouch! Once he opened his mouth, I went to the sink and ran some cold water on it to help with the pain.

What do you consider dentistry’s biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges is for my patients to overcome the fear that they have in coming to the dentist.

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy cooking and gardening.

What are you most proud of about your heritage?

I am most proud of the culture of my ancestors, such as the painting, architecture and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.


We’d like to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Mojica and thank her for the work she does for her community. To find out more about Dr. Mojica, visit the La Amistad Dental Office website.

Dentist spotlight: Dr. Marc A. Cirelli

Meet Dr. Marc A. Cirelli, DMD, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. Dr. Cirelli is a Reno, Nevada-based dentist whose passion for carpentry and home improvement seamlessly blend with a compassionate approach to helping veterans with dental care, free of charge.

Why did you become a dentist?

I majored in biochemistry, Spanish and history while in college. I found that I really liked dealing with people more than laboratory work. I was also fortunate that my parents owned rental properties. I quickly learned how to become proficient in all of the trades with respect to home improvement. I especially liked framing and other areas of carpentry work. It turns out dentistry is a lot like being a carpenter, but there is still an artistic approach to it.

How long have you been practicing dentistry?

I’ve been practicing dentistry since 2007, graduating from Oregon Health and Science University. When I returned to my home state of Nevada, I worked for three years in a public dental clinic, followed by two years as an associate in private practice. I then purchased my dental practice in December 2012.

What are some of the challenges facing dentistry?

Getting people to recognize the importance of oral health and how it affects other systems of the body is one of the greatest challenges facing dentistry today. I like to use the analogy of a person with severe acne. You see the effects it does to your skin, and you want to clear it up, so you go to a dermatologist. With an oral cavity, people aren’t aware of what happens in the mouth, so they don’t see a dentist until they have a toothache.

We take intraoral photos in an effort to educate patients about the importance of regular dental care. This has been a great motivator for better hygiene and preventive treatment.

What do you do in your spare time?

In my free time, I enjoy running, hiking, skiing, target shooting, martial arts and, of course, home improvement projects.

Tell us one of your funniest stories from the dental office.

As every dentist knows, esthetic cases can be the most challenging. You not only have to meet the patient’s desires but those of their significant other.

In one such case, the patient was in the office for a complete maxillary denture. Esthetics were great: The patient liked the shape, size, form and, most importantly, function of the denture. He’d even provided us with a picture from before he lost his teeth.

We ended up meeting the demands of the patient, but his wife had us redo the denture to meet her demands. She wanted him restored into her ideal husband! I still remember going through the wax try-in and he gave me a look that said, “I like the first, but I need to satisfy her, so go with the second!”

What is most rewarding about your career?

Seeing the results of your work and how it changes a person. Our office works with a program called Adopt a Vet. Since most veterans are not eligible for treatment through the VA, we see veterans on a volunteer basis and do all of their treatment at no charge. They come to the office in pain, and some can’t even chew. We get them out of pain and restore their dentition, often completing dentures so that they can smile and enjoy a good meal again. To me, that’s what dentistry is about.


We’d like to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Cirelli and thank him for the work he does for his community.

To find out more about Dr. Cirelli, visit cirellifamilydentistry.com or check out his Facebook page. You can also learn more about the Nevada Adopt a Vet program.


How you can help fight opioid addiction

As an oral health care provider, you’re an essential member in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Many adolescents who abuse opioids have their first encounter with medically prescribed painkillers (such as those prescribed for wisdom tooth removal), according to the National Institutes of Health. The overall percentage of opioids prescribed by dentists increased by 12.9% from 2010 through 2015, so being aware of how to combat overprescribing is more important than ever.

The American Dental Association’s Policy on Opioid Prescribing supports:

  • making continuing education on prescribing opioids and other controlled substances mandatory
  • implementing statutory limits on opioid dosage and prescription duration
  • improving the quality, integrity and interoperability of state drug monitoring programs

Another important aspect of helping to combat opioid addiction is having open and honest discussions with your patients. The ADA has put together resources to help you educate your patients about the addictive qualities of narcotic painkillers. You can find a comprehensive collection of webinars about opioid prevention for dentists. For example, the ADA offers advice on selecting strategies for pain management that are appropriate for the estimated severity of different procedures.

Studies have also found that a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be a more effective pain management tool than simply prescribing opioids, as well. As Dr. Daniel Croley, our Vice President of Network Development, says, “We ask that all dentists consider non-addictive pain management as their first choice. When narcotics are needed, only prescribe the lowest dosage and quantity needed to effectively manage your patients’ pain.”

The opioid epidemic may be too big for any one person to solve, but to quote Dr. Croley, “Together, we can stop the overprescription and abuse of opioids.”

Dentist spotlight: Dr. Sheri Watson-Hamilton

Meet Dr. Sheri Watson-Hamilton, DMD, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. Dr. Watson-Hamilton is passionate about dental health and provides care to uninsured and underserved patients.

Based in South Florida, Dr. Watson-Hamilton works at the Martin Luther King Jr. Clinica Campesina Health Center. This full-service facility provides dental care alongside urgent care, primary care and more. It’s part of the nonprofit health care organization Community Health of South Florida, Inc., or CHI, which offers affordable, quality health care services to local residents.

Why did you decide to become a dentist?

I’ve always wanted to practice in the medical field. As a child I would always ask anyone I was close to, “Let me see your teeth!”

What really helped me decide on dentistry was when I volunteered at a dental office during undergrad. I saw how a patient would come in with pain and receive immediate relief. Patients would come in with self-esteem issues and once their teeth were restored, they’d leave the office smiling confidently — no longer hiding their teeth.

How long have you been practicing?

For 24 years.

Tell us one of your funniest stories from the dental office.

During one of my appointments, I had a set of twins as patients. One was a really great patient — the other was really dramatic. At one of the visits, the dramatic twin was hesitant about the visit, as always. Once the anesthesia was placed, she looked up at me and said, “If you do that again, I’m gonna call 991!” — meaning 911.

What do you consider dentistry’s biggest challenge?

Getting patients to value their teeth and their smile.

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy spending my free time with my immediate family.


Congratulations, Dr. Sheri Watson-Hamilton! Thank you for your work.

You can find out more about Dr. Sheri Watson-Hamilton and CHI by visiting the CHI website or following the organization on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Student Leadership Award winners announced

Twenty-nine exceptional dental school students were recently recognized, each with a $10,000 award, by the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation.

Deans and faculty at dental schools throughout our enterprise region handpicked the award winners for their strong leadership skills, dedication to serving others and passion for the field of dentistry.

The students were presented with their award at their dental school’s commencement or awards ceremony. Check out the Foundation on Facebook and visit us on Instagram (@ddccfoundation) for photos of the winners.

The 2018 Delta Dental Community Care Foundation Student Leadership Award winners:

Joseph M. Youssef, University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry

Giana Maria Lupinetti, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine

Kathryn Champion, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine

Mechay Rush Gray, University of Alabama School of Dentistry

Rakeb Tilahun, Howard University College of Dentistry

Ashley Boettger, University of Utah School of Dentistry

Samuel Lovejoy, Roseman University College of Dental Medicine

Pete Angelo Petrides, West Virginia University School of Dentistry

Tanya Sue Maestas, University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston

Amanda Mitchell, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry

Lauren Brubaker, Texas A&M University College of Dentistry

Jay H. Patel, Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry

Lam Bui, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Stephen C. Rogers, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

Taylor Cohen, University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine

Rachel Vorwaller, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

Sana Nasir, New York University College of Dentistry

Tyler Samuel Wheeler, University of Mississippi School of Dentistry

Jessica Grenfell, Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine

Margaret M. Saludis, University of Maryland School of Dentistry

Edward Dark Starr, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry

Dahlia Levine, Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University

Austin Belknap, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Dental Medicine

Alejandro Quesada, University of Florida College of Dentistry

Diana Heineken, Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine

Melissa Toni Lin, University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry

Jin Ki Kang, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California

Albert Scott Young, University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

Kyle Leis, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry

Learn more about the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation at deltadentalins.com/about/community/philanthropy.

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