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Dental Students Wanted

For any dental student or recent graduate, my door is always open, and I would love to share in the wonder and excitement of the dental profession together.

For the past two years I have had the honor of having dental students from Southern California’s Western University School of Dentistry in my practice. I am an adjunct professor, and my role is to show dental students how I practice dentistry. I have had second and third year dental students come and interact with me, my staff and my patients. We have discussed CEREC® CAD/CAM dentistry, lasers in bacterial decontamination, connecting with patients, philosophy of practice, and how to get a job as a dentist who’s just starting off. I hope that I have given these dental students something of value because they for sure have given me something powerful – the wonder of clinical dentistry.

A little over two years ago, I decided that my role, my purpose in life, was to solve problems, treat disease and bring order out of chaos. I had gotten really good at finding dental disease and solving dental problems. I would spend most of my week going through this process. So much so, that after some time, the problems I wanted to solve started piling up. A career can get pretty old and cold when all you see day in and day out are problems. I soon found myself burnt out. It was in this jaded state that I met my first Western University dental student.


Having dental students in an active, busy practice can be a challenge. Every dental practice has a rhythm that you get used to, so having to turn, stop and then have a conversation about why I was doing something was unnatural at first, but I eventually got used to it. I was struck by the wonder and the pure excitement the students had for each and every patient interaction. I gradually realized that in the day-to-day business, I hadn’t slowed down enough to consider how beautiful it is sometimes to guide healing in another person’s mouth.

As a requirement for the externship course in my office, the dental students had to write down three dental procedures that they observed. Many times they would sit down with me at the end of the day to finalize their notes about the procedures. I started noticing that they would choose the successful procedures and celebrate the sheer joy of clinical dentistry done well. This was all new to me as I usually would not take the time to recognize the good things that happened that day. I found myself truly enjoying the exercise of writing down dental procedures that went well. I also found myself feeling that same sense of wonder and awe that the students felt. I started to feel excited again for the dental care I provide.

So, it is no surprise that today I find myself thankful for the open hearts of the dental students who let me share their excitement and wonder. I also want to thank the faculty of Western University for their progressive curriculum that brings dental students out of the four walls of the dental school and into dental practices like mine. Finally, I want to thank Pacific Dental Services® for having the vision to build the structure of the program in my office.

For any dental student or recent graduate interested in dentistry, my door is always open. I would love to talk to you about the wonder and excitement of clinical dentistry. Finally, if you are a dentist burnt out and tired, may I suggest the simple exercise of writing three things that went well in the office the last 24 hours. It can really help.

You can contact Dr. Matthew Darbro at PDS®-supported Glendora Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics at 626-771-1320.

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About Dr. Matthew Darbro DDS

Dr. Matthew Darbro graduated from Indiana University School of Dentistry and has been practicing dentistry since 1996. He currently practices in Glendora Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics in Southern California. He has been leading CEREC® CAD/CAM study clubs for over two years in the Southern California area. He has been on the Citrus College Advisory Board for Dental Assisting and is also a Clinical Assistant Professor for Western University of Health Sciences. His passions include CEREC CAD/CAM, creating wellbeing in the dental field, and developing future dental leaders.
  • Kevin J.

    Great idea Matt! I was at an orthodontic seminar once and the lecturer asked how many unsuccessful treatments or problems it took to get you down and bothered. The murmur throughout the room voiced back the answer “one.” The lecturer then asked why, with all the good things we were accomplishing throughout the day would we let one thing that didn’t go right bother us so much. I know I tend to dwell on the problems and not enjoy the successes as much.