After nearly half a decade working as a general dentist in pediatric offices, Alexandra Otto, D.D.S., decided to specialize in pediatric dentistry. To get to New York University Langone Health in Alaska, from which she was destined to earn an advanced education in pediatric dentistry, Dr. Otto and her husband, Tim, sold their belongings and made the trek from Dallas by RV.
They carried big dreams with them, including someday starting a private pediatric practice together and perhaps obtaining another RV to launch a mobile dentistry clinic to provide care to underserved children with little to no access to care.
Today, they live in Buda, Texas, near Austin, and are living the dream. Dr. Otto's career accomplishments have earned her recognition as a 2022 ADA 10 Under 10 Award winner.
It all started with some positive memories back in Naples, Florida, where she was born and raised.
"I was a weird kid who loved my dentist," Dr. Otto said.
No one in her family had been in dentistry or health care, although her mother became a nurse later in life. According to her mother, Dr. Otto was fond of dental visits as a toddler. She recalls parts of the visits herself.
"I still remember having a cavity at like 3 or 4 and them putting the nitrous nose on me and them telling me they were so proud of me and I was doing a great job," Dr. Otto said. "Those weird memories just stuck with me and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool to be someone who makes that sort of influence on a kid's life and gets to be a part of their life in that way?' I think about that a lot when I'm working. These little kids are going to remember these things that we're doing. They're going to remember these appointments."
That early influence led the way to undergraduate studies in food and nutrition at the University of Florida and a decision as a junior to apply to dental school. She earned her doctorate of dental surgery in 2013 from Virginia Commonwealth University and completed a general practice residency at Denver Health Medical Center in 2014. Denver is where she met her husband and married in 2016 before deciding to pursue the pediatric dentistry specialty with the residency in Alaska.
Together, the couple opened their first practice in 2020 in Buda and then a second practice nearby in South Austin in 2021. Her husband has an M.B.A. and runs the business side of the practice.