Emerging Group Spotlight: The Disney of Dentistry

How Dr. Mark Farina has created an appealing treatment journey for patients.

By Jenna Hughes

Dr. Mark Farina’s aspiration to become a dentist and orthodontist took shape at an early age. His father, who was a mechanic, provided him opportunities to work with his hands during his teenage years. During this same time, his childhood dentist encouraged him to harness his interests to pursue the field of dentistry. He never looked back.

As a pre-dental student at Boston College, Dr. Farina got the opportunity to shadow an oral surgeon in the operating room and, intrigued by the operating room and the surgeon career path, decided to apply to dental school at the University of Pennsylvania to pursue an oral surgery career. 

But during his third year in dental school, while conducting an emergency procedure at the hospital, Dr. Farina came to the realization that the job’s high stress level, associated risks, and time spent away from his wife and family necessitated a reevaluation of his future career goals.

“I spoke with my advisor about a career change, and he persuaded me to apply to orthodontic school. I got in right after dental school, and then went on to NYU’s post-graduate orthodontics program. I graduated from there, and have been practicing orthodontics for 29 years since,” said Dr. Farina.

The practice

Dr. Farina is the founder of Farina Orthodontic Specialists, which has expanded over the years to three Florida locations in Wesley Chapel, Tampa Palms, and South Tampa. At the practice, the primary services offered by orthodontists include braces, Invisalign, retainers, and more.

“One of our core values is to ‘wow’ our patients with service and smiles. We are constantly working on our core values as a company. As a team, we live and breathe our core values; and we hire, fire, reward, and recognize through our core values,” said Dr. Farina. “Company culture is very important to the success of our practice and team.” 

Upon entering the office for treatment, patients are warmly greeted by the “Directors of First Impressions,” also known as the front desk staff. Subsequently, patients proceed to the acquisition and record center for photos, iTero scans, or X-rays. Following this, they proceed to the treatment coordinator’s room to confirm their records and formulate a treatment plan for either Invisalign or braces.

“At our practice, we love to celebrate and consider ourselves the ‘Disney of Dentistry.’ When patients come in, we are genuinely excited to see them and aim to motivate them by celebrating their treatment journey,” said Dr. Farina. “We’ve introduced interactive games at our office like the ‘Wheel of Wow’ or ‘The Smile is Right’ to allow patients to mark their milestones. When getting their braces off or finishing Invisalign, our patients celebrate their new smile with music, excitement, and festivities. We thrive on creating a high-energy atmosphere, ensuring that every patient departs with a unique and fun experience at the orthodontist.” These attributes have led Dr. Farina to be voted by his peers as the Top Orthodontist in Tampa Bay. 

Virtual orthodontics

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many dentists and orthodontists faced challenges operating in-person during the global health crisis. With 40 team members to support and critical oral care to provide, the team at Farina Orthodontic Specialists didn’t have the option to slow down. To overcome the challenges created by the pandemic, the Farina Orthodontic Specialists developed a virtual care model for patients.

Dr. Farina explains, “We started seeing our patients online through Zoom and other virtual platforms, and that program developed into a comprehensive virtual model. This virtual care approach has proven a valuable addition to our already successful practice. Over the past two to three years, it has enabled us to double the size of our practice.”

Since then, the company has expanded and refined its virtual care program. Patients can now access preliminary orthodontic services through Facebook or Instagram ads that catch a potential patient’s attention and guides them to medical forms for further evaluation and services. 

After gathering new patient information, a doctor at Farina Orthodontic Specialists reviews the data and provides the patient with details on required services, anticipated treatment time, and estimated treatment cost. A patient then has the option to proceed by scheduling an in-office appointment for treatment and a discussion of their treatment plan based off the patient’s initial online submission.

The success of this program inspired Dr. Farina to launch a virtual dentistry/orthodontic care consulting company called Ortho Synergy that assists practitioners in the industry to “build their practices through the new virtual care model,” said Dr. Farina.

Community involvement and future plans

The team at Farina Orthodontic Specialists actively engages with the local community, participating in various areas such as schools, sporting events, theatre, and outreach. The practice contributes both time and financial support to local organizations, and it also extends its philanthropic efforts to national non-profit organizations such as Girl Scouts of America and Race for the Cure.

Additionally, Farina Orthodontic Specialists runs a community giveback program called “Smiles for the Soul,” which allocates funds for orthodontic care to individuals who require financial assistance. Eligible candidates can be nominated to the program or apply directly for support to access orthodontic services.

“We never turn away a patient that comes in for care and asks for support. For years, we have always supported patients that come in and ask for care,” said Dr. Farina. “‘Smiles for the Soul’ dedicates free orthodontic care to patients in need. Word spreads about these services, and it has helped our practice become a place of positivity that encourages the community to seek care and bring light to their day when they come and visit us.”

Farina Orthodontic Specialists continues to hire and incorporate new doctors across their three practices, mentoring them to become the next generation of leaders and the future of orthodontics.

According to Dr. Farina, “As a practice, our goal is to grow, improve technology, and give back to our patients and community, ultimately striving to make a better world – one smile at a time. I love what I do, and I want to continue to grow and develop the field of orthodontics. I’m just so blessed to be in this profession.”