Meet Your Board Member: Dr. Cortez

May 23, 2024
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Dr. Santos Cortez, DDS

The CDA Foundation’s board of directors plays a key role. The board’s guidance leads ongoing efforts to support dental professionals, reduce barriers to care and improve Californians’ oral health. Today, get to know Santos Cortez, DDS, a member of the board.

A long-time dedication to children’s oral health

A graduate of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, Dr. Cortez is certified in advanced pediatric dentistry. He has been a member of the teaching staff at USC’s School of Dentistry since 1980 and works with the Advanced Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program part time. Cortez has also served on the medical staff at Miller Children’s Hospital and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where he is on the governing board of directors.

In addition, Cortez practices privately at Pediatric Dental Specialists in Long Beach.

“After more than 35 years of continuous private practice, I still enjoy working with families every day and helping to keep children in good oral health,” he says.

Leadership in the dental community

Cortez has a demonstrated commitment to organized dentistry. Some of his past leadership roles include serving as president of both the Hispanic Dental Association (Los Angeles chapter) and the American Society of Dentistry for Children (Southern California chapter). He’s chaired CDA’s Government Affairs Council and served on CDA’s strategic planning committee.

His association with the Hispanic Dental Association led Cortez to become more involved with the CDA Foundation. “Many years ago,” he explains, “The Foundation managed scholarship funds for the Hispanic Dental Association in California, which is how I was introduced to and became involved in the mission and work of the Foundation.”

Volunteering continues to be rewarding

Cortez is proud to say that he has been directly involved in over two-thirds of CDA Cares events and is looking forward to providing treatment under the new model of care that the Foundation has adopted at upcoming clinics in Long Beach and Trinity County.

When asked about what he would like his dental peers to know about the Foundation’s mission, Cortez replies, “There are many Californians who suffer from untreated dental disease that can potentially cause severe infection or death. The greatest gift a dental professional can give is to provide dental care for those people who would otherwise not be able to access that care.”

He notes that dental professionals and others can participate in fulfilling the Foundation’s mission through multiple ways, such as volunteering at CDA Cares events, donating to the Foundation or serving on committees or the board of directors.

Cortez finds his own experiences working with pediatric patients at Foundation clinics to be very satisfying. “To be able to see patients leave the clinics with gratitude and a smile is so rewarding,” he says. “I have enjoyed being able to give back to my profession and the underserved communities we serve. It has also been rewarding to have developed many friendships because of the comradery that we all share in fulfilling the Foundation’s mission.”