Local Dentists ‘Salute’ Veterans by Giving New Smile

By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter

Cerisa Moncayo was a dentist stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, also known as 29 Palms, when she met Max Moncayo, the new base trauma surgeon who was well known for his steady hand and gentle heart.

Those same qualities that made Dr. Max a revered dental surgeon would soon garner the romantic interests of Cerisa, leading the pair to fall in love and later marry in 2015, two years after their meeting.

Now military veterans, the dentists have recently relocated to Pacific Palisades where they have joined Village sister practices The Palisades Dentists and Palisades Surgical Arts, occupying the ground floor of the Palisades Village Center at 881 Alma Real Drive.

“We are very thankful to be living and working in such a wonderful community,” Dr. Cerisa told the Palisadian-Post. “We have some of the best patients—it truly feels like we’re all family here.”

Working side by side, Max—a graduate of the UCLA School of Dentistry, where he continues to teach residents—is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, specializing in bone grafting, dental implants, tooth extraction, gum and oral surgeries, and is one of the nation’s few board-certified dental anesthesiologists.

Across the hall, Cerisa—a graduate from Stanford University and the USC School of Dentistry—offers patients a full scope of general and cosmetic dental services, including filling cavities, performing root canals and extractions, and providing high-quality crowns, dentures and veneers.

In addition to keeping their Palisadian clients feeling happy, healthy and at home in their tranquil office featuring comfortable,

Italian leather chairs and state-of-the-art dental technologies, including digital imaging and a painless anesthesia delivery system, the doctors are honoring their roots by providing pro bono dental work to veterans from the Dream Center in downtown Los Angeles.

“We decided to work with the Dream Center because it is a nonprofit that has personally and deeply inspired us,” Cerisa explained.

“As veterans, we take pride in being a part of something greater than we are. We noticed the magnitude of impact that the Dream Center has in Los Angeles and around the world—literally transforming lives, restoring families, and saving individuals from addiction, gangs, poverty, trafficking and so much more.”

Once per month the Moncayos perform a full-mouth restoration on a needy individual from the center often giving them an entire new outlook on life at no cost whatsoever.

“Giving someone the ability to smile again can entirely change the course of their lives,” Max told the Post. “We have heard back from patients who are working again after years of unemployment because they now have the confidence to get back out there and be a person again.

“Anyone who is actively trying to live a better life should be given opportunities to help them get where they want to be.” Between leading the way in advancing dental techniques and cultivating a warm and hospitable environment unique unto themselves, Cerisa and Max are proving that in both life and work, “practice” really does makes perfect.