Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa has been in its Tampa Palms Professional Center location since 2008. Over the years, pediatric dentist Marta Rivera, D.M.D., has seen thousands of patients. But, like all of us, she says she has never seen a time like the one we are currently experiencing.
When the world went into quarantine due to Covid-19 last March, Dr. Marta (as her young patients call her) and her staff needed to adjust. Because they were deemed an essential business, the practice could stay open but only for emergency and urgent services. They were only open a few hours per day to service the patients most in need.
That’s how it was from March until May, when restrictions on medical offices in Florida were lifted. Prior to May, Dr. Marta says the pandemic allowed the staff to prepare the office for a post-Covid world. The whole place was sanitized. Fans and ionizers were installed to purify the air.
The layout also was changed, so that there was only one entrance door and one exit door. Arrows on the floor made sure patients weren’t running into each other. Exam rooms are cleaned thoroughly after each procedure. And, of course, all of the staff members and patients have been required to wear masks.
“People feel safer,’’ Dr. Marta says. “There were a lot of changes but we got through it. Everybody has been safe, thank goodness. Now we are waiting for everyone (staff and some patients and their parents) to get the (Covid) vaccines. We are going to continue to wear masks and probably will for a couple of years. We deal with children and children can’t get vaccinated. We have to continue with the mask mandate. We are a medical facility.’’
Dr. Marta has been practicing dentistry since 1988. She is a native of Brooklyn, NY, but moved to Puerto Rico with her family when she was 10 years old. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and then earned her D.M.D. degree from the university’s School of Dental Medicine.
Dr. Marta had her own dentistry practice for seven years in Puerto Rico. She moved to Florida in 1997 and, after passing the Florida Dental Board, worked in dental offices in Lakeland and Plant City before opening her own practice in Hunter’s Green in 2003. Five years later, she moved to her current location.
“It’s a developing area, it’s the suburbs, lots of families and their children are here and I love the area,’’ she says.
While Dr. Marta almost exclusively works on children ages 1-18, she says that she does have a few patients in their early 20s. However, the practice is very much catered to children. Dr. Marta calls them the “stars of the show.’’
Getting Down To Basics
One of the cool amenities at Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa is that there are televisions in the ceilings of the exam/treatment rooms so kids can watch TV while they are in the dental chairs, which cuts down significantly on their nervous fidgeting.
Dr. Marta recommends a cleaning and first dental exam when children turn age one. She offers digital, low-dose X-rays, offers both sedation dentistry and conscious sedation with nitrous oxide, mercury-free restorations and custom made mouth guards and treats periodontal disease. Her cosmetic services include bleaching of teeth for teenagers.
Dr. Marta says she was the first provider in Florida to offer Myobrace, a type of “myofunctional” (meaning it deals with the muscle function of the mouth) orthodontics. Myobrace is often an ideal treatment to eliminate habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrust that cause teeth to become misaligned. With Myobrace, a child can correct those habits before beginning traditional orthodontics, or sometimes eliminate the need for traditional orthodontics altogether.
Although Dr. Marta is not an orthodontist, because she was trained in her residency to do orthodontics, it is another service available at her office — although she says she only provides it to patients she knows she can help and refers more complicated cases to orthodontic specialists.
Felix Ramirez has four children, ranging in age from four- to 14-years-old. After dissatisfaction with other dentists, it was suggested that he check out Dr. Marta. That was more than seven years ago.
His oldest child already has gone through a braces program. He expects his next two oldest children to get braces as well. Additionally, Ramirez uses Invisalign on his own teeth, also thanks to Dr. Marta.
“It’s really been a blessing,’’ Ramirez says. “To be able to trust a dentist fully like we trust Dr. Marta really gives you peace of mind. And, she is an amazing professional. Put it this way, my kids aren’t afraid to go to the dentist. They actually like to go. That’s saying something.’’
As an added bonus, Dr. Marta also is fluent in Spanish.
Adapting To The Pandemic
Due to the changes brought on by Covid-19, Dr. Marta also has added tele-dentistry to her menu of options. While she obviously isn’t able to physically work on a tele-dentistry patient’s teeth, she can answer parents’ questions and look at abscesses, for example, and suggest options if those patients require further treatment.
“It was helpful in giving peace of mind to the parents,’’ Dr. Marta says.
Once medical facilities were allowed to see more patients, she says she wasn’t sure if they would return, since Covid-19 is still a threat. She said she was surprised when the office was full again by May.
Part of the reason may be due to what she calls “Quarantine Cavities.’’
Dr. Marta focuses a lot of her attention on preventive care, especially when it comes to cavities. Many of those problems can come as a result of bad diets or bad habits. In this case, being stuck inside the house for a year now has contributed to both.
“There has been an uptick in cavities,’’ Dr. Marta says. “(People) are quarantined and there is eating and drinking when you are home. The snacking went up. Unfortunately, part of why we are so busy now is because of that.”
Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa is located at 5326 Primrose Lake Cir. and is open Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The office accepts many insurance policies, primarily PPOs. For additional information, call (813) 374-0388 or visit TampaHappySmiles.com.