Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Tag: Dental Health Partner of the Month (Page 1 of 2)

Dentist spotlight: Dr. La Toya C. Morris

Meet Dr. La Toya C. Morris, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. Dr. Morris was born and raised in Inglewood, California, and attended St. Bernard High School in Playa Del Rey. It was during her senior year of high school that she decided to go into the health care industry.

After receiving her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Morris returned to California and was awarded her California dental license. Today she heads her Los Angeles practice, La Toya C. Morris DDS Inc.

Dr. Morris has sought out the latest trends and developments in the dental field and continually adapts cutting-edge techniques. Her priority is offering family-like hospitality, and her goal is to improve not only her patients’ smiles but also their lives through a great experience and education they can take home with them.

Dr. Morris volunteers her time and experience to organizations that care for underserved patients, and donates one week each year to a health clinic that provides care to the less fortunate. Let’s see what else Dr. Morris has been up to.

Why did you decide to become a dentist?

I decided to become a dentist while I was in high school. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be in health care. I recall sitting on the stairs in our home with my sister and best friend. My sister was reading Black Enterprise magazine, and the issue featured the top 10 professions for that month. My sister mentioned that dentistry was a great profession for women because you could work regular hours and be home in the evening with your family. In other words, unlike a physician, you didn’t have to be on call or spend many hours in the hospital.

How long have you been practicing?

I’ve been practicing dentistry for 21 years.

What is the most rewarding part of your career?

The most rewarding parts of my career are (1) helping people get out of pain, (2) helping patients gain confident smiles and (3) educating patients on good oral health habits to promote excellent oral hygiene.

One of the funniest stories from the dental office?

One of the funniest stories in the dental office is when, after I administered anesthesia to a patient, she asked if I was done. I replied yes and left the room to allow the anesthesia to take effect. In the meantime, I performed an exam in another room. When I returned, the patient I anesthetized was gone. I asked the front office assistant where the patient was, and she replied, “She said you told her she was done.”

We still laugh about this scenario. We called the patient on her cellphone, and I told her that I was only done with her injections and she needed to return to finish treatment. We laughed because the patient told us that all she could think about was treatment being finished. She had to reschedule.

I learned a lesson from that. To make sure patients aren’t confused, I now say, “We’re only finished with giving you anesthesia. We’ll let the medication take effect and I’ll return to complete your treatment.”

What do you consider dentistry’s biggest challenge?

Dentistry’s biggest challenge is getting patients to relax in the dental chair. Each patient is different. Many have had traumatic experiences or have heard horror stories about going to the dentist.

Surprisingly, some adult patients have also mentioned they weren’t brought up going to the dentist and wish their parents had made it a priority. It appears their parents didn’t understand the importance, and these patients realize they could have avoided many of the dental issues they’re facing.

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my daughter and spending time with our family and friends. I also enjoy nature walks, hikes, relaxing at the beach, reading novels, traveling, going to concerts, seeing plays, movies, playing games and eating out.

During Black History Month, we like to ask our partners whether they have a historical African-American figure they admire. Do you have one?

The one historical African-American figure I admire is my dad because he had integrity and was disciplined, hardworking and ambitious. Growing up, I saw these qualities in my dad and how others around him had the utmost respect for him. He was admired, trusted and complimented by many people. My dad had a heart of gold and was loved by all who knew him. Again, as a young child, seeing these qualities in both my parents made me want to have the same characteristics.

The lessons I learned from them influence my work today. I have a huge appreciation for life and want to help others. Getting up in the morning to get ready for work, I know I have a purpose. I like to assure my patients that I’m here for their dental needs. I’m passionate about what I do, and I try to give each patient the undivided attention needed to create the treatment plan that’s most beneficial for their oral care. Most importantly, listening to a patient’s chief complaint and addressing it before proceeding with their other treatment is a priority to me.

My thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Where Do We Go from Here is, as African-Americans, I recognize that we’re very much underrepresented in the dental field. In the past, I’ve volunteered and spoken with students about choosing dentistry as a career, and high school students volunteer in our office to learn more about the field. My doors are open to anyone considering dentistry as a career path. I like to encourage my patients — and everyone else — to consider the dental profession.

We’d like to congratulate Dr. La Toya C. Morris and thank her for her volunteer service. To find out more about Dr. Morris, visit her website.

Dentist spotlight: Dr. Richard L. Owens

Meet Dr. Richard L. Owens, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. Dr. Owens is the owner of Owens Family Dental Care in Destrehan, Louisiana, where he practices with his son Dr. Reid M. Owens.

Dr. Owens served in the U.S. Air Force for several years before graduating from the LSU School of Dentistry. Committed to continuing his dental education, Dr. Owens has received his Mastership Award from the Academy of General Dentistry, which has been achieved by only 2% of U.S. and Canadian dentists.

As a veteran, Dr. Owens believes in serving his community. In 2012, Dr. Owens was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel Dental Officer in the Louisiana Army National Guard, and currently serves as their State Dental Officer.

Dr. Owens has four children, two grandchildren and two best friends — boxers Bacco and Stella. Let’s learn more.

Why did you decide to become a dentist?

As a student, I became interested in the biological sciences and learning about the mysteries of the human body. During my college career, I was fortunate enough to obtain part-time employment as a medical technologist and meet dental students who also were working part-time in a hospital environment. I became quite interested in the dental profession and made the final decision to pursue this career avenue. I was especially interested in the application of science, artistry, and technology in the dental profession as well as the respect and autonomy that defines this profession.

How long have you been practicing?

I graduated from LSU School of Dentistry back in 1981 and have been practicing dentistry for around 39 years.

What is the most rewarding part of your career?

The most rewarding thing during my career is the relationships that I have been blessed with over the years with my patient families. Most of my patients have been working with me for years, and I’m honored and blessed that each of them definitely knows who their dentist is if asked. On a personal note, the most rewarding was the dental school graduations for my son Dr. Reid Owens and his wife, Dr. Stacey Owens.

One of the funniest stories from the dental office?

The funniest issue I remember is a situation in which I had to barter with a five-year-old patient for her to allow me to restore a couple of carious teeth. We made a deal that if she came in on her next visit and allowed me to treat her, then she was to bring in her nail kit and paint my fingernails. Well, she definitely remembered this, and after her treatment was done, she pulled out her kit and went about painting my nails with three coats of three different colors. Mission accomplished.

What do you consider dentistry’s biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge in dentistry involves the education of children and parents regarding the medical necessity of dental health and dental care, as it’s linked systemically to the overall health of the body. People will always seek out care they want, but not care they need.

As a society, we’ve missed the boat regarding public education regarding dental care. We achieve preventive care for only around 40% of the overall population.

Being involved with the military in Louisiana and personally reviewing charts for around 11,000 Army National Guard soldiers, only 35% of the enlisted soldiers in this state have ever been to a dentist for preventive care and actually have a dental home. Dental diseases and maxillofacial pathologies are rampant in this country today.

What do you do in your free time?

Growing up as a musician — I was a trumpet player in bands — I always enjoy concerts, plays, and the arts. I also greatly enjoy the game of tennis and love going to professional tennis tournaments. Of course, the top of my list involves spending time with my family and grandchildren, and my church brothers and sisters.

We’d like to congratulate Dr. Richard L. Owens and thank him for his service. To find out more about Dr. Owens, visit the Owens Family Dental Care website or Facebook page.

Dentist spotlight: Dr. Zahra L. Hosseini

Meet Dr. Zahra L. Hosseini, our Dental Health Partner of the Month. A graduate of the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, Dr. Hosseini worked in a hospital clinic for several years before entering private practice in San Diego, California. She later moved to Folsom, California, to open her current practice, the Folsom Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry.

A strong believer in the connection between oral hygiene and overall health, Dr. Hosseini provides her patients with a complete approach to staying healthy. And while she has extensive experience with cosmetic and reconstruction procedures, she strives to preserve the structure, strength and health of her patients’ natural teeth.

Dr. Hosseini is a member in good standing of the American Dental Association and the California Dental Association. She actively pursues continuing education and stays current on the latest restorative dentistry research. Dr. Hosseini is married and the mother of three. Let’s learn more.

Why did you decide to become a dentist?

I knew I wanted to be in the health care field, with my father being an internist. I grew up in a small town and had a wonderful dentist growing up. Unlike many people who don’t like going to the dentist, I actually looked forward to my dental visits.

How long have you been practicing?

I’ve been practicing for 25 years.

What’s the most rewarding part of your career?

Being able to help restore patients smiles in a comfortable setting and motivate them to maintain their dental health. Having patients experience getting their dentistry completed and taking care of each patient’s individual needs. I have a team that shares the same vision and philosophy and that makes our job so much easier and enjoyable — and our patients notice the difference!

What do you consider dentistry’s biggest challenge?

Misinformation that spreads via social media — for example, DIY orthodontics, and various products that are misleading and detrimental to a patient’s oral health, such as charcoal toothpaste and whitening products.

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy cooking, photography and spending time with my family.

We’d like to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Hosseini and thank her for the work she does for her community. To find out more about Dr. Hosseini, visit the Folsom Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry website or Facebook page.

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 or check out his Facebook page. You can also learn more about the Nevada Adopt a Vet program.

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