Blog, Private Practice+

The Dentist is In: What it Means to Partner with Pacific Dental Services (PDS)


I love to tell the story of how I came to partner with Pacific Dental Services. It is the kind of story that puts things in perspective; t he kind of story that reminds me to be thankful. I love to tell the story, because it reminds me good things still do happen.

In 2005, at a Target parking lot, I was given an opportunity. I had driven across the country with everything I owned in a trailer behind me, for a meeting in Upland CA to talk about dental practice and to get a job working with Pacific Dental Services. I was determined to work for PDS. Why? –Because I worked for them before.

Flashback. I graduated from Indiana University in 1996 and with fate on my side, I passed the California boards. I had never lived in California. It was a new world.  It was the bad sort of new world, where I was disillusioned and left wondering why I ever became a dentist.

When I first put out my resume as a new dentist, I couldn’t get any kind of work, and when I finally did begin working, it was a rude awakening. I was not treated as a doctor. I became a cog in a machine. The years cranked by and I bounced from practice to practice, with this dark shadow of despair over my career, ever growing.

I got married to my true love, Rachel, in 1998, and resolved to start my own office. I was going into private practice, the gold standard of dental practice. I retained a broker and got a loan.  In 1998, I bought a practice in Orange, CA. All the right people were congratulating me. Dental suppliers and labs were calling me. I felt important, until I realized that the practice I bought was not at all financially viable and the loan was a complete mess (and this was long before the housing bubble!)

Needless to say, my private practice failed. No patients. No support. No opportunity. The worst part about it was I didn’t even know why it failed. I poured over dental practice management articles and went to seminars. I had all the knowledge, but none of the skill.

It takes knowledge — knowing what to do, and skill — knowing how to successfully apply that knowledge on a day to day basis, to successfully run a dental practice. I see that now, but I did not see that then. After my failure, I simply wanted nothing to do with owning dental offices. I was demoralized and felt the cruelty of my predicament, but deep in my soul, was this dream of doing great dentistry, and ultimately, doing great things. I would dream, but I was in a very dark place.

It was here, in this demoralized place, January 2002, that good things started happening. I began working for Pacific Dental Services-affiliated offices in Santa Barbara and Oxnard. For the first time, I looked forward to practicing dentistry. The coaching I received back in those days I cherish to this day, because up until that day, nobody ever cared enough to coach me, even when I would pay them!

This is the point in the story where life throws a curveball. My family needed my help back in Indiana and suddenly I found myself leaving the coaching, the technology, the connectedness, and this practice I had come to love. I moved my family to Indianapolis and actually had some very good experiences there, but most every day I practiced, I thought of Pacific Dental, what they taught me and the vision of dental practice that they had.

I resolved to return to Southern California and attempt to work for Pacific Dental Services again. It became a do or die, all guns blazing, attempt to return to what I had come to truly appreciate, practicing in a vibrant Pacific Dental Services (PDS) environment. I left a good situation in Indianapolis to drive across the country to interview for a position I wasn’t sure was even available.

That day I told this story. I talked about my family. I talked about dental practice. I got a job working with PDS. But more importantly, I met some great people. PDS had grown since I had last worked for the company and it was going in some exciting directions.  When I started with PDS in 2005, not only did I get a job but  I also got an association of dentists and business leaders to talk about new ideas in dentistry. It was truly an opportunity worth driving across the country.

In 2007, I partnered with Pacific Dental Services in a dental practice in Glendora, CA. I am now an owner-doctor — something I had vowed I would never do after my previous experiences. I like to say that PDS helped me do what I could not do on my own. I love my practice. I love CEREC and all the technology. I love the CE. But mostly, I love the people of PDS. It is a real blessing working with great people in the dental industry.

Thank you PDS, for the time and attention, thank you for the vision and the wisdom. Thank you for being real with me and telling me where I made my mistakes. Thank you for celebrating with me in my victories. Thank you for caring about my family. Thank you for caring about me.


About the author:

Dr. Darbro currently practices at Glendora Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics.  He has been practicing dentistry since 1996. He is married and has three children. He enjoys playing music, studying/teaching the Bible, and vacationing in Hawaii.  Connect with Dr. Darbro via

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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.