Our team is a wonderful group of women and men who love children and teens. They are patient, accommodating, and willing to help your child have a great dental experience. They have worked in my office from 3-26 years and are therefore experienced in assisting with all aspects of Pediatric Dentistry. Our front and business office staff is personable, cheerful, and here to aid parents in the use your dental insurance, financial arrangements and making appointments.


Denise Bass Allen, DDS

I love Pediatric Dentistry! My favorite challenge is a child who is apprehensive or scared, especially if they had a bad experience at another dentist. Over the years I have developed more and more patience and I find I can ease most children’s anxiety and help them see we know how to make Pediatric Dentistry easier. I also love new toddler patients. Most parents are nervous about their child’s first appointment because they don’t know what to expect. I love spending time talking to parents about their dental history, nutrition , brushing and what to expect as their child grows older. This helps ease their anxiety and makes the experience easier for both parent and child. I also love that we now have A-traumatic Restorative Techniques (ART) to slow down or stop the progression of decay in young children and either postpone or eliminate traditional drilling and filling.

I grew up in south Berkeley and now live in Oakland. I love the weather, environment and diversity of the East Bay and plan to stay here forever.

My daughter was a lifer at Head-Royce School and I was on the Board there for nine years. She has now started her own custom bakery business [Full Belly Bakery] and of course, I help her as much as possible.

I have many hobbies such as hiking (with my Outdoor Mocha Divas), traveling, gardening and mosaic tiling, but my favorite avocation is skiing. I have skied since I was in 7th grade. Three years ago with the encouragement of a few ski friends I decided to be a part time ski instructor at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. I love sharing my love of the sport and teach adults and children at Squaw on some weekends and holidays.

Recent killings of African American males by police have stirred many in our society to read more about American history. In my opinion history is best remembered and understood if there is a personal connection. In that spirit I want to share a bit of my family history. Both my maternal and paternal great- grand parents were born into slavery. My maternal great- grand father, Walter Alexander Gorham lived in southern Louisiana. New Orleans was the first southern city liberated by the Union Army. Walter joined the Corp d’ Afrique and fought for the Union in the Battle of Port Hudson. If you visit Washington D.C. go to the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. Talk with the curator and see my great-grand fathers name on the memorial with many other men. One of Walter’s daughters was my grandmother. She and her newly wed husband migrated to Oakland in 1918 from New Orleans. My mother said my grandmother would never talk about her experience with Jim Crow. She always said “you don’t need to know that, I won’t talk about that”. It is my hope we never say we don’t need to know or talk about race again. Talking and sharing our experiences is the only way we can start to make a change.


  • Holy Names High School
  • Santa Clara University, Bachelor of Combined Sciences
  • University of California, at Los Angeles, Doctor of Dental Surgery
  • University of California, at San Francisco, Post-Doctoral Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry
  • Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (Specialty Board Certification)

Susanna Cheng, DDS

I am a native Oaklander. I graduated from Skyline High School. I earned a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of San Francisco. I went on to earn my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in 1991.

For the first two years of my career, I practiced mostly on adults. In 1993, I found myself associating in a pediatric office in San Francisco. I soon realized that I much preferred working with children. Since then, I have treated very few adults. It was wonderful to find a position in my hometown with Dr. Denise with whom I have been and an associate dentist since July of 2001.
I am the mother of two fabulous daughters. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, musicals, a good binge-worthy show, and traveling.

Dr. Niekia Franklin

Dr. Niekia loves working with children and has loved waking up to serve the most precious patients every day for the past five years! She is very involved in her community including participating and hosting in Give Kids a Smile events for the past 9 years! As a national committee member and National Ambassador for the Give Kids a Smile Program, Dr. Niekia believes all children should receive the very best dental care. Dr. Niekia has received numerous awards such as National ADEA Preventive Dentistry Scholarship, International College of Dentists Student Humanitarian Award, and Warren Parker Community Dentistry Award. Her hobbies include exploring the Oakland and Berkeley trails with her adopted corgi/spaniel “son-dog” Maximus, exercising, camping, hosting dinner parties, and organizing tailgates (a throwback to her Southern roots).

Top 3% of her dental class at the Baylor College of Dentistry, Dr. Franklin completed specialty training in pediatric dentistry at Riley Hospital for Children and Indiana University School of Dentistry with extensive experience in sedation and working with patients who have cleft lip/cleft palate, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays. Dr. Franklin completed her certification to become a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in the top quintile in all 8 tested categories. She loves keeping up with all the latest pediatric dental evidence especially regarding the oral-airway and oral-systemic connections, conservative treatment alternatives, and minimally invasive procedures.


Desiree Hamlin-Harris, Financial Coordinator

Desiree was born and raised in San Francisco, California. She has been in the dental field since 1998 and has been with Dr. Denise since 2001. She enjoys watching sports, traveling the world, and spending time with her family and friends, especially her little Yorkie (son) Dallas.

Sarahi Almendra, Financial Coordinator/Receptionist

I was born in Veracruz, Mexico and was raised in Oakland. I attended Carrington College and took ESL at UC Berkeley. I am bilingual in Spanish and English. I have 3 children and in my spare time I enjoy doing children’s activities.

Isilda Ormonde – Registered Dental Assistant

(fala Portuguese)
Isilda was born in the Azore Islands of Portugal but came to the United States at age 3. She currently lives in Alameda, has 3 children, and loves spending her time with her immediate and extended family. She has worked for us for over 10 years.

Patricia Gallagher – Computer Specialist

Patricia received her B.S. from the University of Wyoming. She enjoys ballroom dancing, traveling, and working with rescued rabbits. She is “mom” to two house rabbits and a cat. She has worked for us for over 10 years.

Donna Jackson, Registered Dental Assistant

In 1988, Donna graduated from Bryman College. She’s been an RDA since 1991. She worked in general dentistry for over 7 years. She has worked for us for over 10 years. She has really enjoyed working with kids the most because every child is unique. She’s currently married with 3 children. Her hobbies include swimming, crafts, and cooking.

Stacey Strickland, Registered Dental Assistant

Stacey studied to be an RDA at Contra Costa College and has been an RDA since 1995. She first worked with General Dentistry for 5 years and has worked in Pediatric Dentistry since 2000. Stacey enjoys camping, fishing, reading and spending time with her family. She has 3 young adult children.

Mayra Apodaca, RDA

I received my RDA in2009 and have been in Pediatric Dentistry since then. I have no children of my own but enjoy working with them very much. I am bilingual in Spanish and English. I love to read in my spare time.