MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Last year was life changing for many — but few took on as much as Dr. Nicolas Freda and Dr. Elena Ciciolla. They not only started a dental practice together in the middle of a pandemic — they got married a few weeks later.
Although this is their joint venture, they both have worked in other positions, said Freda in a conversation with TAPinto SOMA. And in addition to the new practice, they are each keeping one foot in academia. “I'm currently a part-time faculty member at NYU, and Elena is a part-time attending at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital,” he said.
The Springfield Avenue office, dubbed Marigold Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, will “really take care of the whole family,” said Freda. They saw that Maplewood had lots of young families but was missing this kind of dental practice.
“The idea is to establish a dental home where children can feel comfortable coming to the dentist at an early age so that you can be preventative instead of reactive. If we can establish a dental visit as a fun and positive experience, they'll learn to take care of their teeth long term, and we don't run into issues where we have to do something that's not so much fun.”
To help small children relax, they do “knee to knee visits,” where the patient is in a caregiver's lap during the exam. Homey decorations in the office and televisions on the ceiling distract the children “and it's amazing how much you can accomplish while they're watching their favorite show."
Orthodontics can help with both oral health and self-confidence, and Marigold offers several options for straightening teeth including traditional braces and Invisalign. "It's amazing the effect that straightening their teeth can have on a teen's personality. Someone who came in shy can become warm and friendly and self-confidant. That's what makes my job fun," Freda added.
When the couple's spring wedding was preempted by the pandemic, they thought they would delay it by a year, but changed course again when they realized a big wedding wouldn't happen by then either. So they had a small church wedding in December, which was live-streamed to friends and family, and will have a party in the future.
Although the couple lives in New York City currently, they are looking to settle in the South Orange-Maplewood area. Freda grew up in Chester, and they knew they wanted to be in New Jersey long term.
Marigold is in network for most PPO and state plans, Freda said, and having all digital forms “makes it more convenient for people. It's a nice upgrade in patient experience,” Freda added.
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