If you’re coming in for an appointment at Ferrera Dental Care, located just off Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., south of E. Bearss Ave., be prepared to use your mouth — and not just to “open wide.”
General and cosmetic dentist Robert Ferrera, D.D.S., believes that effective, two-way communication is key to achieving excellent results.
“I know it sometimes drives my staff crazy because they are looking at the appointment books,” Dr. Ferrera says, “but I always like to have a conversation with my patients before we start any kind of procedure.”
Those conversations help familiarize the patient with their dentist, which helps build the kind of patient-doctor relationship that makes any local practice thrive. As a result, Dr. Ferrera has had some clients who have been with him for most of his 30-year career, like Bob Cornett.
“I have known Dr. Ferrera for many years, in fact I was his first patient,” Cornett says. “Over the years, I’ve been blessed to have been associated with him. I can’t say enough for the respect I have for Dr. Ferrera and his entire staff. I’m there every three months, and have been doing this for many years.”
The initial conversation also helps Ferrera ascertain what the patient is or is not doing that could be causing his or her problem. Oftentimes, it’s not something quite as simple as forgetting to brush your teeth. Permanent and full mouth damage can be caused by certain habits that patients develop, sometimes unbeknownst to them.
“Most people who come in needing full mouth rehabs did the damage to their teeth unintentionally,” Dr. Ferrera says.
Full mouth rehabs are a specialty at Ferrera Dental.
Teeth grinding is one of the leading causes for patients requiring full mouth rehabilitation. Dr. Ferrera says that grinding is not only something people do while sleeping, but something they also may be doing while they are wide awake.
Having a conversation with patients prior to a procedure can reveal clues about the causes of other dental/mouth issues. Whatever the solution, a friendly, familiar environment is provided where the patient can relax, even when undergoing an otherwise uncomfortable procedure. (Don’t worry, though — Dr. Ferrera’s office offers sedation dentistry for patients who want it.)
“Full mouth rehabs are not just problems with your teeth, it’s where the uppers and lowers don’t fit together properly anymore,” Ferrera says. “The work is partially cosmetic, but we give patients function they haven’t had before.”
It’s not an overnight process, Dr. Ferrera says. There’s a strategic approach that he takes in order to start moving forward in the treatment process, using implants, crowns, bridges and veneers. Sometimes, if the case warrants it, Ferrera will refer a patient to one of the orthodontic specialists or oral surgeons he has worked with before.
“I try to work with specialists who have worked with me for a long time, so we can get the result the patient wants in the long run,” Dr. Ferrera says. “Some of these specialists I refer patients to have worked with me for 15 to 20 years.”
That familiarity helps Ferrera Dental maintain a level of consistency. This is especially important when it comes to patients who require ongoing treatments.
“I happen to be one of those individuals that needed extensive dental work,” Cornett says. “Dr. Ferrera not only diagnosed my problems, but set me up with the appropriate surgeons to have the surgeries performed. After the surgeries, he took care of all the dental fixtures that were required.”
Continuing Education & New Technology
Even though Dr. Ferrera says he has been a practicing dentist for more than 30 years, he never stops learning.
While the State of Florida requires 30 hours of continuing education every two years, Ferrera says he takes 60 hours every two years. At each course or seminar, he says he looks for at least one new piece of information that he can apply to his practice.
“Technology and procedures are constantly changing and evolving,” he says.
Cerec Restoration is one of those developing technologies. Cerec is a dental restoration system that allows dentists to produce and place custom-fitted ceramic dental restorations using a variety of computer-assisted technologies.
Ferrera got involved with Cerec in 2009, during the nationwide economic downturn. Domestic laboratories were raising prices for lab work and many dentists turned to sending crowns offshore to keep costs down. “I never wanted to send anything offshore,” Dr. Ferrera says. “I realized that I could control my costs by using the Cerec machine.”
Today, instead of multiple appointments and sometimes a weeks-long process, Dr. Ferrera can now create and place a crown in only one day.
There are two parts to the Cerec machine. The first uses two tiny cameras to map a 3-D image of the patient’s tooth or mouth.
The information is sent to a second machine that processes the information and mills a piece of porcelain right there in the office. The system can be used to produce any permanent, single-tooth ceramic restoration, including crowns, veneers, onlays and inlays.
A Hometown Guy
Ferrera has deep roots in the Tampa Bay community.
He graduated from Tampa Catholic High School and earned his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from the University of South Florida.
He graduated at the top of his class in 1985 from the Ohio State University College of Dentistry in Columbus, with his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree. His first job upon returning to Tampa after college was with the late Dr. Richard Valdes, who had an office in northeast Tampa near what is now Florida Hospital Tampa on BBD.
Ferrera’s father, Robert, worked at the American Canning Company in Tampa until the plant closed down and shipped production overseas. Robert Sr. then got a job as a security officer at Avila. It was there that he met Dr. Valdes, one of the few residents the elder Ferrera felt was gracious and down-to-earth. One day, Ferrera’s father waved down Valdes and asked him to counsel his son.
“I was very fortunate (Dr. Valdes) chose me,” Ferrera says. “I see him as my mentor. If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s because of him.”
Dr. Ferrera worked in an associate position for Valdes for seven years, until his mentor passed away in 1991. By then, Ferrera was already involved in the Temple Terrace Rotary Club. He would soon team up with his friend and neighbor Bill Leonard (as well as Tom Wade) to help create the Rotary Club of New Tampa in 1995, which still meets Fridays at 7 a.m. at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club.
Ferrera has held every chair position in the Rotary Club of New Tampa with the exception of president.
Participation in community events attracted Ferrera to other organizations, like the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago & Sant’ Yago Foundation, and the Rough Riders, which both are part of Gasparilla.
The Sant’ Yago Foundation connected Ferrera — whose grandfather was from Spain and grandmother was from Cuba — to his Latin roots. The foundation provides full-ride scholarships to 22-25 junior and senior students at USF, the University of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College who are of Hispanic origin.
Ferrera joined the Rough Riders in 2017. The Rough Riders are a 501(c)(3) non-profit group whose members dress in regalia reminiscent of U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, who camped in Tampa on their way to Cuba during the Spanish-American War. In addition to participating in Gasparilla, they organize their own Saint Patrick’s Day in Ybor City and go on teddy bear runs, delivering plush toys to children in hospitals; they also visit veterans in VA hospitals.
Ferrera has lived in Tampa Palms with his family for the last 26 years. His wife Cheri manages the accounting department at Ferrera Dental and his daughter Morgan runs the office. Dental hygienists Diantha Higdon and Marie Crenshaw each have 20 years each of experience, as does dental assistant Lisa Snow, who works the front desk.
“I can actually say I look forward to my visits,” Cornett says. “If you’re looking for a dentist with exceptional skill and compassion, give his office a ring.”
Ferrera Dental Care will celebrate its 20th anniversary at its 15047 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. location in March. For more information, call (813) 558-6684 or visit DrFerrera.com.