By Gary Nager

No matter how scary a visit to the dentist’s office can be for some children, it’s nice to know that there are pediatric dentists like Marta Rivera, D.M.D., who do everything they can to make the experience a little less intimidating.

Dr. Rivera, a long-time New Tampa resident who calls her office the “Happy Smile Designers,” has been helping to improve the smiles of children in New Tampa for about ten years. Her original Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa office was located in the former Model & Visitor Center at the entrance to Hunter’s Green, but that original office can’t compare, in design or technology, with the office in the Tampa Palms Professional Center (located across Commerce Park Blvd. from the New Tampa Recreation Center) she moved to about four years ago. Her office is only 15-20 minutes from most of Wesley Chapel.

The office features a variety of nature scenes and cute characters that Dr. Rivera designed herself and had her aunt, a talented artist, hand-paint. The colors are bright, but soothing, and Dr. Rivera says her young patients (usually ages 3-18) really enjoy all of the various themes, although my favorite is the painted tree in one exam room that has actual foliage attached to the tree. You really have to see it to believe it.

Dr. Rivera, although most of her patients and their families call her “Dr. Marta,” was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but moved with her family to their native Puerto Rico when she was 10 years old. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a Biology degree and then graduated from the University of Puerto Rico Medical Science Campus School of Dentistry in San Juan. She practiced at one of her professors’ offices before opening her own practice. She also worked with the Olympic committee of Puerto Rico, taking care of the athletes and children who were boarded in the specialized training school.

In 1995, Dr. Rivera went back to do her residency in pediatric dentistry at the University Children’s Hospital in San Juan Puerto Rico. Before finishing her residency, she came to Florida in 1996 to take the Florida Dental Board. She then moved to Florida in 1997 and worked in other dental offices in Lakeland and Plant City. She has been a resident of New Tampa since 1999.


Unique Orthodontic Services

In addition to the services provided by most pediatric dentists — which include digital (low-dose) X-rays, treating periodontal disease, bleaching of teeth, sedation dentistry, conscious sedation with nitrous oxide, crowns, bridges, cosmetic dentistry, mercury-free restorations and custom-made athletic mouthguards, she also provides functional and interceptive orthodontics, even though she’s not technically an orthodontist.

“Because of where I went to dental school,” she says, “I received training in orthodontics and have had years of experience with both traditional braces and myofunctional orthodontics, which are unique appliances designed to train the muscles and nerves of the face, even in younger children, in order to realign the teeth.”

Dr. Rivera adds that, in many cases, myofunctional orthodontics can reduce or even eliminate the need for traditional braces by teaching the tongue to sit in the correct position, correcting swallowing patterns and teaching children to breathe through their noses normally. “And, with myofunctional orthodontics,” she says, “the child never has to wear a retainer.”

She notes that she does have to refer some extreme cases to other orthodontists or even oral surgeons, but says that many of her patients will choose to do their orthodontics with her because she’s also their primary dentist, “and the parents know their kids are already comfortable with me.”

Judging by the results she has obtained with both traditional braces (photo, above top) and myofunctional orthodontics (photo, above), it’s understandable why so many of Dr. Rivera’s patients and their families choose to do their orthodontics with her.

And, Dr. Rivera is proud to announce that she has added a second dentist to her staff, Denisse Lasanta, D.M.D., who graduated from the same dental school in Puerto Rico as did Dr. Rivera and received the same training in both pediatric dentistry and orthodontics that Dr. Rivera received.

“Our young patients already like Dr. Lasanta, too,” says Dr. Rivera.

The First Dental Visit

Dr. Rivera recognizes that a child’s first-ever dental visit is one of the most important of their lives. Her entire friendly, professional staff is dedicated to creating healthy and happy smiles for your child and providing a smile-filled, relaxed environment.

Your initial oral examination includes a visual examination, charting, periodontal assessment, orthodontic assessment, diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The staff also will take digital X-rays, which may include a panoramic X-ray for proper diagnosis of the anterior (front) and posterior (back) teeth as well as the bite-wing X-ray series for proper diagnosis of proximal decay of posterior teeth.

“That’s why we call our office the ‘Happy Smile Designers,’” says Dr. Rivera. “And, our patients say that ‘Pediatric Dentistry ROCKS!’”

In other words, whether your family recently relocated to the New Tampa area or you’re simply looking for a new pediatric dentist, check out Dr. Marta Rivera’s Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa office.

Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa is located at 5326 Primrose Lake Cir. For additional information, call 374-0388 or visit For more info about myofunctional orthodontics, visit

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