Deanna Crawford was enjoying dinner with her best friend Julie Simon 20 years ago when she first met Paul Duga, DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). Dr. Duga, who recognized Julie as the mother of three of his patients, came over and chatted for a bit.
“This guy comes to the table, she introduces him and he was the nicest, jolliest guy I think I’ve ever met in my life,” Deanna says. “I was like, ‘Who was that?’”
“That’s the kids’ dentist,” Julie said.
“Well, he’s going to be my kids’ dentist, too,” said Deanna, even though she didn’t have any children at the time.
Guess how the story ends?
Eight years later, Deanna showed up with her son Tyler, who was 2, for his first dental appointment.
“He made a great first impression,” Deanna says, chuckling. “I don’t think I’ve ever even told him that story.”
Tyler is now 14, and about to have his braces removed. Deanna’s daughter Ella Grace, 7, is a patient as well. And, well, not that Deanna is bragging or anything, but — zero cavities!
Deanna’s choice was simple — she wanted someone who would make her kids feel at ease, maybe make them laugh or smile, and make a trip to the dentist something the kids would look forward to, rather than dread.
Since opening his pediatric dentistry office more than two decades ago, that’s the one philosophy that has always guided Dr. Duga.
“We provide one-on-one, private, patient-driven care,” he says. “We provide dentistry that is safe and healthy, and also non-threatening, so kids don’t grow up with an irrational fear of dentists.”
For veterans of the office, there is nothing threatening about Dr. Duga, Dr. Feeney & Associates Pediatric Dentistry, located in the Somerset Professional Park in Tampa Palms, off Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. at Amberly Dr.
Duga and his partner, Shawna Adams-Feeney, DMD (Doctor of Medical Dentistry), both have engaging and outgoing personalities, and mix in a fair amount of fun and humor to take the edge off any patient’s visit.
The dentists also are reassuring, important in these heightened safety-first days of a pandemic. Dr. Duga assures parents that their kids, and their teeth, are always in good hands.
While some modifications were made because of Covid-19 — such as adding Plexiglas barriers at the front desk — Dr. Duga says there were no drastic changes because his office always considered most of the health and safety precautions as standard practice.
“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, so 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, WI, 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 (pictured above) 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.
Parents like Deanna will bring their kids to a dentist at the first sign of teeth.
The doctors encourage parents of their youngest patients (they treat children from age 1 up to about age 18) to bring their kids in every six months to maintain good dental health.
Drs. Duga and Feeney 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 health care.”
The staff will gladly help parents of patients and potential new patients understand their insurance benefits.
Kids like the perks, too, such as fun in the lobby — including video games and TV screens on the ceiling and headphones in the chair, so they can watch while laying down. Plus, they get to pick the flavor for their toothpaste and receive a coin at the end of each visit, which they can exchange for a small toy.
“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.”
Deanna couldn’t agree more. She lived in Land O’Lakes when she started bringing her kids to the dentist, but now lives in Spring Hill. She jokes that she drives past “a million dentists” on the way to Dr. Duga, but when her dad asked her why she doesn’t find someone closer, the answer was simple.
“Why do I need to when I know what I’m going to get with Dr. Duga?,” she told him. “I’m happy and my kids feel safe and happy there. What else do I need?”
The pediatric dental office of 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 to find out more about your insurance/payment options.