[Updated 09/01/2020] Letter to our Senior Dental Center Patients regarding COVID-19

Information posted on September 1, 2020

To our valued senior patients,

We hope you and your loved ones are doing well. The last few months have been challenging for our communities. Nevertheless, as the current situation begins to improve slowly, we have reopened our offices since July 15th and we are working towards returning to our regular clinical services. 

Through this letter, we want to reach out to you and provide an update on the actions that we are taking to prevent cross-contamination and protect the health and well-being of our patients and our team members. Your safety has always been the top priority at The Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center.

Our office follows recommendations and strict guidelines made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Additionally, we continuously review and update our infection control procedures so that they are always up-to-date.

You will see some changes in the appointment scheduling process and patient experience as we reopen. These changes are made to ensure the safety of our patients and our team members. Our changes include:

  • Before scheduling an appointment, our office will ask you some screening questions, such as whether you have experienced symptoms related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, etc.), or you have come into contact with someone who has these symptoms within 14 days of the scheduled appointment date. If you fall into the suspected patient category, we will review your request on a case-by-case basis to decide if we are able to schedule an appointment.
  • You will need to answer these same questions again and take a health evaluation when you arrive at our office on the day of your appointment. If you are identified at check-in as a suspected case of COVID-19, we will have to postpone treatment.
  • We will schedule appointments in a way that minimizes patient contact in the reception area. This also allows us more time to disinfect our office between appointments. Therefore, you may have fewer options for scheduling.
  • Upon arriving, you will need to call our office to let us know that you have arrived. A team member will come through the door and escort you so you can enter our office. We will also ask you that you wear a face mask while you are in our building. If you don’t have one we can provide you with it.
  • We provide hand sanitizer at check-in that we will ask you to use when you first arrive. There are also hand sanitizers in all bathrooms and at the front desk for you to use if needed.
  • We have removed all unnecessary touchable items that could lead to cross-contamination between patients in the waiting room, such as, magazines, educational materials and so forth.
  • We highly recommend you to come to our office alone. If you require assistance from a friend or family member, please inform our team members as we limit the number of visitors.
  • Once in our office, we will provide you with mouth rinse before we start any treatment to reduce the salivary load of oral microbes and destroy potential viruses.
  • We have installed an extra-oral suction system and air purifiers in each room to assist us during dental procedures. The suction system allows us to eliminate residual droplets and aerosols and sterilize viruses, germs, fluids, and dust created while providing treatment.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation to help us carry out these changes. Please call our downtown clinic at (619)-795-1301 or our North County Office at (760)-280-2270 to make an appointment. 

It is our privilege to have you as our patient and look forward to seeing you again soon.


Dr. Karen Becerra-Penagos
CEO/Dental Director
The Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center

Click here for more information about what to expect at your appointment during COVID-19.


Information posted on April 9, 2020

The Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center has always been proud to follow the strictest CDC guidelines for infection control and prevention of the spread of communicable diseases. Considering the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we closed our Downtown and North County clinics on March 16th and will reopen when it is safe to do so. It is important to know that the Senior Dental Center has had no cases of COVID-19. Our closure is intended to promote social distancing and to help support efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, especially to protect our seniors.

During our clinic closure, we are here for our patients and your families:

  • We are answering phone calls and responding to online inquiries during business hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Downtown Clinic: 619-795-1301) (North County Clinic: 760-280-2270)
  • We will make additional follow-up calls by phone for any patients that may need an evaluation by a dentist due to pain, infection or significant discomfort and swelling.
  • In some cases, we will be able to connect with you virtually through our new teledentistry tools and refer you to offices that we have made arrangements with so your dental emergency can be taken care of.
  • All other non-urgent appointments will be rescheduled for a future date.

There will be a dentist on call in the event of a dental emergency.

  • A dental emergency can be defined as severe tooth pain, trauma, swelling of the face, neck or lips as a sign of infection, and bleeding in the mouth that cannot be stopped.
  • If you are not sure if your concerns are a “true emergency” we welcome your call so we can guide you. When in doubt, our team of doctors can talk with you to alleviate your concerns.

We are continuing to evaluate the COVID-19 situation and will determine any additional actions we need to take. We will keep you informed when it is appropriate for us to return to our normal clinic operations.

If you need to talk with us about any dental, medical, social or mental health concerns during the upcoming weeks, our Patient Coordinators will be available to help address any questions you may have and direct you to the resources you may need.

  • If you feel isolated or concerned about your well-being or safety, please let us know and we can coordinate for a nurse or social worker to contact you by phone.

We are available to answer your questions via email at and by phone (Downtown clinic: 619-795-1301) (North County clinic: 760-280-2270)

We are all in this together and your Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center team is here to help you!


Dr. Karen Becerra
CEO/Dental Director
The Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center

Click here for more COVID-19 information for our senior dental patients