Despite significant advances in dentistry and our ability to prevent many oral healthcare issues, dental disease remains a significant and widespread problem in America, particularly for low-income seniors. If improvements in access, affordability, education and awareness do not occur, oral disease and related health issues will become an increasingly prevalent and costly public health issue for our aging population. Establishing and maintaining good oral healthcare is critical to successful aging.

The mission of the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center is to provide affordable, high-quality oral healthcare with comprehensive education, clinical, and wellness services for seniors in need, enabling them to live healthy and productive lives. The Senior Dental Center links high-quality and affordable oral healthcare with a suite of nutrition, case management and wellness services offered through the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, creating a one-of-a-kind, integrated community-based system of care for older adults.



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To address the critical need for oral healthcare for seniors, philanthropists Gary and Mary West created the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, a nonprofit, integrated community dental center dedicated to serving low-income seniors in downtown San Diego.

The West Senior Dental Center links high-quality and affordable oral healthcare with a suite of nutrition, case management and wellness services offered through the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, creating a one-of-a-kind, integrated community-based system of care for older adults.


Board of Directors

Shelley Lyford
Chair of the Board

In her role as West Health’s president and chief executive, Shelley Lyford brings extensive experience in developing and executing new aging initiatives to advance West Health’s mission to enable seniors to successfully age, living life on their own terms with access to high-quality health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of

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Paul Downey
Board Member

Paul Downey became President and CEO of Serving Seniors in 1995 and has guided the agency’s innovative efforts to provide supportive services focused on keeping low-income seniors healthy and independent.  The agency serves over 580,000 nutritious congregate and home-delivered meals (breakfast and lunch) annually, 365 days per year, at 10 sites in San Diego County.

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Marc Harper
Board Member

Marc joined West Partners in 2010 as the Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining West Partners, Marc managed the Deloitte Tax’s Private Client Services practice in Orange County. Marc was also previously a managing director of myCFO. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants,  American Bar Association, and the California

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CEO, Dental Director

As the CEO and Dental Director of the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Karen Becerra, D.D.S., M.P.H., brings two decades of clinical research and expertise as a practicing dentist to help establish the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center. Dr. Becerra is a dedicated health professional with a track record of excelling

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Denise Hope Frances, DMD, FADPD, RPT

As a Dentist of the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Denise Hope Frances, D.M.D., F.A.D.P.D., R.P.T., brings over fifteen years of expertise as a practicing dentist with a focus in Special Care Dentistry. In addition to her role with the Senior Dental Center, Dr. Frances currently serves as full time faculty at the

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Vicki Petropoulos DMD, MS, FACP

As a Board Certified Prosthodontist at the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Vicki C. Petropoulos D.M.D., M.S., F.A.C.P brings over 22 years of experience in her expertise in Prosthodontics. Her specialty training in Prosthodontics has been rigorous and her day-to-day experience in practice touches every conceivable challenge in delivering smiles with a high

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Brenda Ojeda, RDA
Registered Dental Assistant

As a Registered Dental Assistant at the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Brenda Ojeda assists patients in resolving minor difficulties, prepares operatory for patient treatment, helps with x-rays, and monitors scheduled patient flow. Ojeda received her dental assistant degree from Concorde Career College. Brenda comes from a very close family. While growing up,

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Yan “Eddie” Liu
Dental Assistant

As a Dental Assistant at the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Yan Liu monitors patient flow and assists dentists and the hygienist by assuring that all patients are getting to the operatory and are comfortable during their dental treatment. Liu is bilingual and assists with the Chinese and Mandarin/Cantonese speaking patients to communicate

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Luis Yesca
Registered Dental Assistant

Luis Yesca has been a licensed Dentist in Mexico since 2000 and a Register Dental Assistant in California since 2005. This has allowed him to continue his passion of bringing smiles back to patients.  His hobbies include spending quality time with family and giving back to the community by volunteering for several causes especially for

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Ayrielle Franco, MPH
Grants Manager

In her role as Grants Manager for the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Ayrielle Franco is responsible for researching, generating, and securing grant proposals and external funding opportunities to support the center’s mission to provide affordable, high-quality oral healthcare to low-income seniors. Prior to joining the Gary and May West Senior Dental Center,

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Lizbeth Chavez
Office Manager

Lizbeth Chavez enjoys working and living in her home town, beautiful San Diego. She enjoys relaxing at the beach reading a book and listening to music, enjoys shopping in San Diego’s local owned establishments in the effort of supporting local vendors. Lizbeth has been in the dental field since 1994, specializing in all insurance billing

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Michelle Sainz
Front Office Administrator

As a front office administrator at Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, Michelle Sainz helps patients understand how their coverage works under patient insurance or public health coverage. Sainz also helps them understand the importance of care coordination between dentist and primary care providers. She has been in the dental field for over 8 years,

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  • “Many, many thanks to Dr. Becerra and the staff at the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center. Your hard work and coordination has given me the ability to eat food I haven’t had in years, given me confidence in my smile, and made me feel like a new person. I can’t thank you enough.”

    Audrey, 62
  • “Thank you so much. You’re in my thoughts today because I am so grateful for your expertise. I have hope that my health will be the best it can be now that you are taking care of my dental needs again.”

    Carol, 74
  • “Admiro tu sencillez y el buen trato que reciben las personas de tí. Gracias. Con cariño.”

    Antonio, 76
  • “To all gold medalists at Senior Dental Center – 1st in caring for us. 1st in being angels. I love all of you for doing what you do.”

    Walter, 69
  • “This unique model of dental care has the potential to lower healthcare costs by providing critical oral healthcare to seniors who can’t afford it, and therefore avoiding costly hospital interventions.”

    SHELLEY LYFORD, Board Member




Research, policy and advocacy are part of our efforts to provide solutions to the lack of oral healthcare for seniors. We are launching several research studies to demonstrate that our model of care positively impacts health outcomes, lowering the cost of healthcare.


Preventive care and education are key elements to optimal oral health. We provide thorough exams to evaluate a patient’s total health, not just teeth and gums. We educate each patient on the importance of routine cleanings, flossing and early detection to help ensure long-lasting, positive results and prevent extensive dental disease and complex treatment later.


We provide a wide range of high-quality oral healthcare  services in a state-of-the-art facility with passionate staff, excellent materials and high-tech diagnostic and treatment instrumentation for best results. Our goal is to ensure our senior patients achieve and maintain long-term oral health, regardless of their ability to pay for services.


Our model of providing care within a thriving senior wellness center ensures seniors receive holistic, patient-centered care. We’re dedicated to creating a place of trust and safety to deliver personalized care, making dental visits as comfortable, efficient and pleasant as possible. The staff at the Senior Dental center provides linguistically and culturally appropriate education and information to patients about the importance of good oral health and work with primary care providers to ensure continuity and coordination of care.


Learn more about our work and the importance of oral healthcare.

About Us
About Us
Volunteer of the Month, Dr. Tina Beck
Volunteer of the Month

Thanks to Our Partners


For other ways to donate or to learn more about us


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