Meet an Alum: Dr. Kris Mendoza, DDS ’15, A ’18

Posted on: Monday, 01/11/2021

Kris Mendoza Dental Alum  Kris Mendoza Mudder

Dr. Kris Mendoza, DDS Class of 2015 and dental anesthesiology certificate holder ’18
, knew from an early age that he wanted to pursue a career serving others. Influenced by his parents’ commitment to the community, he chose to pursue the field of dentistry where he could fulfill his calling.

During his time at UCLA Dentistry, Dr. Mendoza served as the President of the American Student Dental Association (2014-2015), representing and advocating on behalf of every dental student in the country. Through this leadership experience, he developed an interest in access to dental services and wanted to help those who would otherwise be unable or had challenges receiving dental care. Following his DDS degree, he pursued a career in dental anesthesiology and was able to gain valuable clinical experiences working with various patient populations during his residency.

Originally from central California, Dr. Mendoza fell in love with spending time in the mountains and exploring the outdoors. Upon graduation, he relocated to Colorado for its active, outdoor lifestyle. He continues to work with multiple patient populations throughout Colorado as a dentist anesthesiologist and enjoys serving those in need.

When not working, you can find Dr. Mendoza running trails or climbing mountains. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast and regularly competes in obstacle course races and ultra-marathons. He was named the 2018 World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) winner, covering 100 miles in 24 hours, making him the seventh competitor to run 100 miles in this competition. He is one of only four competitors to have run 100 miles in two races (and one of three to run 100 miles in three WTM races). Dr. Mendoza started obstacle course racing during his final year of dental school.

UCLA Dentistry recently caught up with Dr. Mendoza who shared with us some of his favorite dental school memories:

Q: Why did you choose dentistry and what do you enjoy most about being a dentist?

A: “I decided to go into dentistry to serve others. I love to help people achieve their health goals, whether that is through relieving someone’s dental pain or helping them feel more confident about their smile. As a dentist anesthesiologist, I enjoy helping people get the treatment they need. I see a variety of patients from pre-cooperative children, to anxious adults, and everything in between. By the time I am called for a case, it usually means that all other methods of treatment have failed. It is very rewarding to be a part of the team caring for a patient that is otherwise unable to be treated.”

Q: What are your favorite kinds of cases to work on?

A: “I really enjoy working with the pediatric population. While it is very sad to see so many children with rampant decay, it is rewarding to help alleviate any pain they have through dental care. Many children aren’t able to cooperate for extensive dental treatment and it is really rewarding to help them get the care they need.”

Q: What do you do when you are not practicing dentistry?

A: “During non-COVID times, I am usually competing in obstacle course races and ultra-marathons. I moved to Colorado due to the mountains and beautiful terrain that I can explore.  I love running in the mountains, hiking, biking, skiing and spending as much time outside as possible.”

Q: If you could share one piece of advice to current dental students, what would it be?

A: “Focus on the process and fall in love with the journey.

Instead of always focusing on the end result, try to place emphasis on being your personal best on a daily basis. While focusing on an achievement can be a great guide, don’t let it consume you. The only thing you can control are the steps you take (the process), so focus on what you can control.”

Q: What is one of your fondest memories while you trained at UCLA SOD?

A: Instead of one, how about three?

  1. “Creating a cologne line with my classmate Sarav Patel in honor of our other classmate Farzad Moghaddam.

  2. ASDA conferences with my fellow classmates and being elected as ASDA’s National President.

  3. Spending outrageous hours studying and struggling with classmates to achieve our goals of becoming dentists.”

Q: Who were your mentors who supported you throughout your training? What qualities did those mentors have?

A: “Dr. Mito, Dr. Bibb, Dr. Law, Dr. McCreedy, Dr. Quinn, and Dr. Ganzberg. Somehow, six was smallest number I could reduce this list to as there were so many incredible people throughout my time at UCLA. These mentors during my time in dental school and residency really shaped who I am today.

  • Drs. Bibb and Mito really showed me how to lead with compassion and helped me develop as a leader. They were there throughout the entire journey and really provided the backbone for my dental education.

  • Drs. Law and McCreedy helped me develop personal awareness through our time in Academic Track and developed my teaching skills. I learned so much about myself and how to maximize my potential through their help and guidance.

  • Drs. Quinn and Ganzberg were essential preparing me for a career in anesthesiology. They were amazing mentors in anesthesia and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to prepare me!

Each of them spent so many hours helping me become a better clinician, a better leader, and most importantly, a better person. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance.”