By Kristen Wright, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, photos by gary welling
She competed in two triathlons when she was pregnant, hosts yoga class for her staff, and together they run 5Ks. DR. MARCIA MARTINEZ credits her immigrant parents for instilling fierce determination.
Orlando cosmetic and family dentist Dr. Marcia Martinez, 33, says it’s important to keep herself physically fit so she can set a good example for her dental team. But she’s more than an example; on Friday mornings, she brings yoga to the office.
“My neighbor is a yoga instructor, and I had a great idea of providing yoga in-office as a benefit for my team,” Dr. Martinez said. “It’s a wonderful stress release. We meditate and feel empowered and beautiful about ourselves. The art of breathing and stretching throughout the day helps me focus and practice dentistry to my best ability. It not only helps us in the office, but in all aspects of our lives. It’s nice to do things out of the office as a team, too.”
That includes running 5K fund-raiser races, the most recent of which benefited breast cancer research.
“We cheer each other on and help one another achieve more by working together,” Dr. Martinez said.
She also encourages patients to take up healthy habits, such as drinking Tevana Tea.
“I was introduced to the benefits of tea while in Chicago at the ADA Diversity in Leadership program,” Dr. Martinez said. “I was so impressed with Tevana’s product, presentation, and customer service. I always tell people that the associate who helped me that day must have a Ph.D. in teaology. She knew all the health benefits of all the different teas. Some are even anticariogenic.”
As a result, Dr. Martinez features a tea each day in her office. The Roobios Chi Mate Vana is a patient favorite.
“I joke that I can tell if we have had a successful day by the amount of tea cups I wash at the end of the day,” Dr. Martinez said.
Her 1,800-square-foot practice has 2,121 active patients, and Dr. Martinez leases the space from her father, a retired dentist. Her mother, who died earlier this year, was a hygienist. Her parents worked together more than 20 years in Orlando. Dr. Martinez took over the reigns in 2001.
“I have many patients who were my parents’ patients, so they saw me grow up,” Dr. Martinez said. “I was once reviewing a long-time patient’s chart and realized that his first visit to see my dad was the day after I was born. I think that is so amazing.”
What’s more amazing is her parents’ determination to practice dentistry in the United States.
“My father studied dentistry at the University of Havana, Cuba,” Dr. Martinez said. “He graduated in 1959 and my mother was a school teacher in Cuba. They were married in 1960, and shortly thereafter, my brother and sister were born.
“My parents didn’t agree with the communist regime in Cuba and wanted freedom for their children. What they did was so brave that I can’t even imagine doing it myself. They were able to get visas to leave Cuba and come to the United States. The day before their scheduled flight to Miami, my father’s visa was revoked. The Cuban government required him to work one year for them before he could leave. My mother bravely got on that freedom flight with her two young children, not knowing if she would ever be reunited with her husband. After serving his time for the government, my father was able to join his family.”
Her parents had to start over completely in the United States.
“They learned English, and my dad wasn’t able to work as a dentist in the United States. His first job here was as a dish washer. He was accepted to the University of Alabama Dental School and received his dental degree from there in 1970. I really can’t imagine going to dental school twice - and in another language, to boot. If it weren’t for their courage and conviction to seek freedom at all costs, my life would be so different. My brother and sister like to tease me that I came around when they weren’t poor and struggling, so I had a different childhood, according to them.”
When Dr. Martinez was 4, her mother was accepted to dental hygiene school at Valencia Community College. She graduated as valedictorian of her class.
“So how did I get into dentistry?” Dr. Martinez said. “I was born into it.”
She worked for her parents’ practice and her orthodontist, Dr. Robert Hicks, during summers. She, her brother Julio, an attorney, and sister Lillian, a registered nurse, graduated from Florida State University, where Dr. Martinez met her husband of nearly 10 years, Torry Armor. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in 1999. They have two children, Owen, 4, and Maddie, 2.
“Owen has confessed that he would like to be a dentist and a rock climber,” Dr. Martinez said. “I’m not sure about Maddie yet, but she is a great climber.”
In 2005, Dr. Martinez wrote a book called “Owen Takes Sophia to the Dentist” as part of a project for the Diversity in Leadership program, a collaboration between the ADA and Northwestern Kellogg School of Management.
“I was one of 12 applicants picked out of 72,” she said. “My project was a children’s picture book explaining a child’s first visit to the dentist. Sophia is my business assistant’s daughter. Owen shows Sophia how easy a dental visit can be, and then Sophia has a turn with me, the dentist.”
The book is also available in Spanish, “Owen lleva a Sophia al Dentista.” Torry photographed the images for the book.
Dr. Martinez became involved with the AAWD while she was in dental school. She’s also a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
“My team and I do dental-education programs for local preschoolers, kindergartners, and first-graders,” she said. “I want to be a positive influence and make a positive impact in my lifetime … live a legacy of love and make people feel better about themselves like my mom did.”