At Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa, Marta Rivera, D.M.D., offers dentistry — and even orthodontics — for children, in a warm and fun, but professional, atmosphere.
The office has been open in the Tampa Palms Professional Center (across Commerce Park Blvd. from the New Tampa Recreation Center and just 15-20 minutes from most of Wesley Chapel) since 2008. For five years prior to that, Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa was located in Hunter’s Green.
Dr. Rivera — although most of her patients and their families call her “Dr. Marta” — was born in Brooklyn, NY, and 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 owned her own general dentistry practice for seven years and also worked with the Olympic committee of Puerto Rico, taking care of the athletes and children who boarded in the specialized training school.
In 1995, Dr. Rivera did a residency in pediatric dentistry at the University Children’s Hospital in San Juan and moved to Florida in 1997. And, after passing the Florida Dental Board, worked in dental offices in Lakeland and Plant City until opening her own private practice.
Services provided at Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa include digital (low-dose) X-rays, treating periodontal disease, bleaching of teeth for teenagers, sedation dentistry, conscious sedation with nitrous oxide, cosmetic dentistry, mercury-free restorations and custom-made athletic mouth guards.
Dr. Marta mainly sees patients from ages one to 18 (although she does treat some adults, too), and recommends a cleaning and exam when your child turns one.
“We can look at their habits and teach parents how to clean emerging teeth,” she says. “As a dental professional, we can see things that are there, even before the teeth emerge.”
Health Beyond Teeth
Dr. Marta says she tries to integrate a holistic approach when she sees a child, so she not only looks at teeth and dental problems, but also considers other health issues, such as nutrition and food allergies.
“Because we see our patients every six months and sit down and talk with their parents, we can talk about nutrition, habits and other information,” says Dr. Marta. “The relationship is very important.”
For example, she says, kids with recurrent acid reflux generally have more cavities, so sometimes a child who eats the right foods might still be getting cavities because of acid erosion. “If their nutrition is good, but the child is still getting cavities, I refer them to their pediatrician or a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist. It could be as a result of food sensitivities.”
She says it’s frustrating when kids have cavities when their parents are taking good care of them. “It’s not just sugar or bad hygiene that causes cavities,” she says.
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. “Some kids have habits that are detrimental to the development of the dental arches, and we can work on that before traditional orthodontics,” she explains.
Dr. Marta says 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.
“We evaluate the child’s airway for snoring, grinding teeth, enlarged tonsils, poor posture, breathing issues and speech problems, amongst other issues,” she says. “The myofunctional therapy may help, in conjunction with the help of other professionals like pediatric ear, nose and throat physicians and pediatricians.”
(Note-More information about myofunctional orthodontics can be found at Myobrace.com.)
In addition, Dr. Marta does also provide traditional orthodontics.
“I’m not an orthodontist,” she explains, “but I was highly trained in my residency to do orthodontics.”
She is happy to offer braces to her patients because they already know her and feel comfortable with her. She says she only provides orthodontics to patients she knows she can help and refers more complicated cases to specialists.
Even beyond orthodontics, “We like to offer as many services as we can,” says Dr. Marta. For example, each month, a Board- certified pediatric anesthesiologist comes in to provide deep sedation for Dr. Marta’s patients. This might be for children who have many cavities or extractions, for healthy patients with special needs, or for a laser phrenectomy to eliminate “tongue tie.”
In addition, Dr. Marta says, “We have a multicultural practice and we try to honor the practices of other cultures.”
She explains, “We don’t get away from the standard of care, but we offer other options that can help, but won’t hurt.” As an example, she says, instead of a prescription medicine, she can recommend a mouthwash of essential oil to reduce inflammation.
(Note-Dr. Rivera holds a diploma, in aromatherapy and herbal medicine, from the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, OR, which helps her to recommend these types of alternative therapies for her patients, when they are appropriate and preferred by families.)
Another way she honors her multicultural patients? “I speak English and Spanish,” she says, “and I am trying to learn a little Arabic so I can at least say ‘open’ and ‘close’ so the kids feel safe and comfortable.”
Feeling The Love
Kristie Bond is a parent whose two children have been going to Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa for several years and says she is impressed with the ways that Dr. Marta has gone above and beyond to make her children feel comfortable.
“My daughter had sensory issues and needed a little more patience and gentle touch,” says Kristie. “We started seeing Dr. Marta when she was about 6 and she’s 14 now.” Not only has Kristie’s daughter had regular cleanings and check-ups, but she also has braces and will be getting them off this summer. Kristie says the entire staff has a great way of putting kids at ease, and she appreciates how courteous and friendly they are.
“We’ve had a very good experience,” Kristie says. “Dr. Marta is amazing. My son, who is 11 now, is on the autism spectrum. He couldn’t do the full-out cleaning (at first), so they worked with me to get him accommodated by using the same room, first showing him the tools and what is to be expected at the cleaning. Then, next time, they just cleaned one tooth. The next appointment, we did a little bit more. Now, he’s able to let them clean all of his teeth. They’ve been very patient and accommodating, and so kind.”
Dr. Marta says her choice to be a pediatric dentist has been an extremely rewarding decision.
“I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve seen some of my patients graduate and even have babies,” she says. “They even come back from college and visit me.”
She says she loves what she does because of the kids. “They make me laugh,” she says. “We provide a healthy and fun environment, and we have the opportunity to educate them and their parents, too.”
Pediatric Dentistry of New Tampa is located at 5326 Primrose Lake Cir. and is open Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The office accepts many insurance policies, primarily PPOs. For additional information, see the ad on page 19, call (813) 374-0388 or visit TampaHappySmiles.com.