On July 9, Sonrisas Dental Health turned 17. One of our most senior employees was there to mark the occasion.

We’ve been proud to be the workplace for Veronica Torres since she graduated from her dental assisting program. (Veronica is pictured here with Nigel Taverner, longtime board member, and a few friends.)

In 2001, Sonrisas, then known as Sonrisas Community Dental Center, was seeking a bilingual assistant in our Half Moon Bay dental office, and Veronica found us. She was hired by the late Dr. Ray Sheppard who launched Sonrisas with his wife, Carol, and other compassionate community members dedicated to making oral health accessible.

“Sonrisas and I opened together, and we’ve grown up together,” Veronica says. “When you graduate from school, you’ve learned mainly from books. I’ve learned so much working here.”

Over the years, Veronica has seen many patients. They’ve included young children who are now in their teens, farmworkers and other Coastside residents. She’s worked with hundreds of people of all ages. She’s noticed an impact.

“We’ve changed people’s lives for the good,” she says. “There’s much less tooth decay now that we’ve been educating the community about oral hygiene. We started seeing kids.”

She continues: “I’ve seen a lot of decay. We used to find decay in almost every child. Now we have more cases, but they are not as bad. We started teaching hygiene. I used to go to local schools to do oral screenings, and we’d also provide oral hygiene classes for families.”

Veronica appreciates the quality dentists and medical practitioners she has worked with over the years, both paid specialists and volunteers. Some who stand out in particular are Virginia Meser, office manager; Dr. Sam Khoury, oral surgeon; Dr. Terry Homer, an anesthesiologist on the coast who has since retired; Dr. Urmi Amin, pedodontist; and Dr. Marshall Michaelian, endodontist.

Sonrisas has been something of a family affair for Veronica. Shortly after Sonrisas opened, her sister joined the practice. (See the blog post about Yadira Torres.) Veronica’s daughter, Emily has also helped out, starting as, believe it or not, a tooth fairy.

We’re sad to see Veronica Torres move on – she’s off to new adventures in Arizona. We wish her all the best!

#SonrisasDentalHealth #VeronicaTorres #DrRaySheppard