Since opening his pediatric dentistry office more than two decades ago, one philosophy has always guided Paul Duga, DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery).
“We provide one-on-one, private, patient-driven care,” he explains. “We provide dentistry that is safe and healthy, and also non-threatening, so kids don’t grow up with an irrational fear of dentists.”
He and Shawna Adams-Feeney, DMD (Doctor of Medical Dentistry) see patients at their Dr. Duga, Dr. Feeney & Associates Pediatric Dentistry office in the Somerset Professional Park in Tampa Palms, located off Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. at Amberly Dr.
Especially during times of uncertainty, Dr. Duga and Dr. Feeney (as she is called by most of her young patients) are reassuring. While facing a pandemic, the doctors’ always-calm tone helps parents to know their kids are in good hands.
“People want to know how their kids are going to be taken care of safely,” Dr. Duga explains. “That’s very important to everyone. We’re taking temperatures, doing screenings, and all the things we’re supposed to be doing.”
While the office has made some changes because of Covid-19 — such as adding Plexiglas barriers at the front desk — Dr. Duga says most of the health and safety precautions that are currently recommended have always been standard practice at his office.
“The governor of the state of Florida closed us for about six weeks, but not because of risk,” Dr. Duga says. “We already practiced sterilization techniques and barrier control, such as wearing masks and goggles, to keep our patients and staff healthy. We were shut down because front line people needed (so much of) the personal protective equipment.”
Closing dental offices meant masks and gloves that were desperately needed in hospitals would go there until production could be ramped up to provide enough PPE for both hospitals and all other medical offices.
“As far as social distancing is concerned, our office was almost designed for it,” Dr. Duga says. “Our floor plan allows us to keep families all separated and safe.”
He recognizes, however, that many people are even more anxious these days, and the staff does everything it can to counter that.
“We always try to maintain a spirit of positive-ness,” he says.
About The Doctors
While Dr. Duga established the practice in 1998, he says working with Dr. Feeney — as he has since she joined the practice in 2005 and became his partner in 2009 — gives children the option to choose the dentist with whom they feel more comfortable.
“I really appreciate having Dr. Feeney here,” he says with a smile. “If a kid is struggling to connect with me, maybe the next visit he or she might want to go to Dr. Feeney. We do everything we can to keep the children comfortable.”
Both doctors are Board-certified pediatric dentists.
Dr. Duga earned his DDS degree from the Marquette University School of Dentistry in Milwaukee, and then worked as a general dentist in Milwaukee. He went on to earn his Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry from the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry in New Orleans.
Dr. Feeney earned her Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry from the University of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, after receiving her DMD degree from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston.
The doctors encourage their young (usually from age 1 up to about age 18) patients to come in every six months to maintain good dental health.
They provide examinations, cleanings, sealant placement, tooth repairs (such as fillings and crowns), as well as cosmetic whitening and orthodontic alignments.
“We do continuous growth evaluation, bite evaluation, and provide guidance through early orthodontic care,” explains Dr. Duga. The practice also offers braces and Invisalign invisible aligners for its patients, although they do also refer some patients to orthodontic offices, when needed.
For a child who has special needs or is too young to cooperate, a parent can choose sedation dentistry. An anesthesiologist comes in to safely manage the sedation, so the dentist can focus on fixing the teeth and getting them healthy.
“We do accept dental insurance, but we’re not an insurance-driven office,” says Dr. Duga. “Insurance is a contract for paying bills, not healthcare.”
The staff will gladly help patients and potential new patients understand their insurance benefits.
“I’ve seen kids since they were one or two and now they’re going off to college,” says Dr. Duga. “You get to know these families. It’s been a wonderful thing.”
Atiya Young brings her four children to Dr. Duga and Dr. Feeney. In fact, her oldest, age 18, just came in for his regular cleaning and checkup before leaving for college.
“We started seeing Dr. Duga when he was one,” says Atiya, whose other kids are 15, 12 and 9. “They have friendly customer service and are very clean and organized. I love how they speak to them on their level, how patient they are with them.
Her daughter, Brooklyn, says she actually likes going to the dentist.
“You walk in and they’re so nice to you and so welcoming,” says Brooklyn.
Atiya says her kids like the perks, too, such as fun in the lobby — including video games — and TV screens and headphones in the chair, plus picking flavors for their toothpaste and being rewarded with a small toy at the end of each visit.
Atiya says one of her daughters has special needs. “They treat her no different than my other kids,” she says. “I have no concerns about them seeing her or caring for her. They just embrace her and meet all of her needs. They just love all my kids so much.”
Dan Paone lives in Arbor Greene and also brings his kids to Drs. Duga and Feeney. His children are ages 8, 9, and 10 and are in various stages of their orthodontic treatment. Like Atiya’s kids, they have only ever been to one dental office their whole lives.
“We like that our kids have had one pediatric dentist from the time we first took them to the dentist, including orthodontics,” Dan says. “It’s great that we don’t have to go anywhere else.”
Dan says that while he appreciates how “fantastic” Dr. Duga is with his kids, and that he also is great about communicating with parents, too, such as when he analyzes x-rays and explains to Dan exactly what treatments his kids might need in the future.
“I definitely recommend Dr. Duga and I wish we had someone like him when I was a kid,” Dan says. “Actually, I wish I had an adult dentist like him.”
Dr. Duga, Dr. Feeney & Associates is located at 15293 Amberly Dr. To learn more about the practice, visit DrDugaDrFeeney.com or call (813) 631-1100 to schedule an appointment or find out about your insurance/payment options.