Dr. Nick Matthews
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Dr. Nicholas Matthews, 28
Dentist at Excel Dental
ï¡¿Nicholas Matthews graduated with honors in endodontics from the University of Missouri–Kansas City in 2012 and immediately was brought on as the fourth dentist at longtime Ozark dental staple Excel Dental (formerly Barnett-Davis Dental Group). Since then, Dr. Matthews has kept tabs on the dental industry’s cutting-edge imaging technology and has gained additional certifications that make him invaluable in the practice and in the Ozark and Springfield communities he calls home.
Dr. Matthews volunteers monthly at The Kitchen Dental Clinic, pulling teeth and helping Springfield’s underprivileged overcome dental pain so they can get back to work. “We help people who are in pain or have an infection,” Dr. Matthews says. “We help them get past that and on with their lives.” Dr. Matthews also participates annually in the Missouri Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy program, which moves to different communities around the state to provide services to those who can’t otherwise afford it. He recently traveled to the Dominican Republic to do pro bono dental work.
But it’s the daily customers at Excel that bring Dr. Matthews the most joy. That and being part of the Ozark community. “It’s great to go to the store, see the same people you’ve been serving in your office, and just talk as neighbors,” he says.
Occupation: Dentist at Excel Dental
Education: I graduated from Republic High School. Received a degree in Biology from Drury University. After Drury, I studied at UMKC School of Dentistry where I received my doctorate in dental surgery (DDS), and graduated with Honors in Endodontics.
1. How did you end up at your current job/profession?
I have wanted to be a dentist since junior high when I started spending some time at my local dentist's office watching him work. For me, dentistry is the perfect blend of science, art and working with people.
I was very blessed to end up in a practice where I have such amazing partners and such a wonderful team. I work at a practice that has been repeatedly voted to be the best in the Ozarks. Every day I have the opportunity to learn from dentists that have proven they know how to put their patients’ desires above all else. This is what makes our practice so special.
Lastly, I couldn’t be anywhere without my relationship with God. He has directed my path and brought me to where I am today.
2. Where do you find passion to do what you do?
I find my passion on several fronts. Knowing that my patients leave our practice with quality, lasting dentistry is very rewarding. Furthermore, when my patients trust me enough to refer their friends and family and when they spend hard-earned dollars on their dental health, I am inspired and driven to provide top-rated care.
I also find much of my passion through my interactions with my team and my patients. Meeting new people, and really getting to know my patients and their families is one of my favorite things about dentistry. I have the privilege of learning about people’s lives and keeping up with them a couple of times a year. It is encouraging to see people grow and work hard to better themselves. I also love helping people improve their lives through improving their oral health. A smile is the best first impression you can make, and too many people out there are ashamed of their smile. Once someone has had their smile restored to full function and beauty, the look on their face is its own reward.
3. Tell us about your family.
I am married to my amazing wife, Ali. We have been married six years. We have a son named Levi, who was born in January. We are so thankful for him. He has changed our lives in so many ways that it’s hard to remember life before parenthood.
4. What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
I enjoy hunting, fishing, exercising, spending time with my friends and family, growing in my faith, and traveling. I love people. One of my favorite things to do is to get together with as many friends and family as possible. It’s enjoyable to share life together.
5. Are you involved in any charitable organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role? Why is it important to you?)
I volunteer at the Kitchen Dental Clinic. It is a fantastic organization. Their mission statement reads: “To create a place where persons, especially the poor, are welcomed and cared for with dignity and compassion.” My role there is just to pull teeth. It doesn’t sound like much, but for someone who has spent several days or weeks in pain with an abscessed tooth, it is welcomed relief. Pain from these types of odontogenic infections can be debilitating, even preventing these people from working or eating. Hopefully, with our care, they can forget about pain and infection, and focus on bettering their lives.
I help support the Care to Learn program, and have donated my time and services to the Missouri Mission of Mercy (MoMOM). I am also involved and supportive to my church, Ridgecrest Baptist.
6. Are you a member of any professional organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role?)
I am a member of The American Dental Association, Missouri Dental Association, Greater Springfield Dental Society and Pierre Fauchard Academy, and a Fellow of the International Dental Implant Association.
7. How would you define the secret to success?
The key to a successful life isn’t a secret. True success results from living a life devoted to God, serving your family, and balancing the many other facets of our lives. Balancing occupational and family obligations is tough, but it is important. It takes discipline, hard work, and boundaries.
People often want to contribute success to luck, but I agree with a quote credited to Thomas Jefferson, which says: “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” You have to put yourself in places where opportunity can find you.
8. What's your favorite thing about your career?
I love interacting with my patients and my team. Getting to know my patients and having the opportunity to keep up with their lives.
9. What's your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
I grew up here, so 417-land is home. I have traveled all over, and there’s no place like 417-land. The people here are so friendly, hospitable and hardworking. I have so much in common with the people I serve, it makes work even more enjoyable.
10. If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I’d tell myself not to worry so much about what people think. We all have our path to walk in life and our own purposes to fulfill. Too often we let others influence us, and it leads to stress or frustration.
11. What was your “dream job” at age 5?
Wildlife biologist or zoologist. I have always loved the outdoors, and as a kid I thought working with wildlife or waterways would have been awesome.
12. List three traits that define a successful career:
Balance between work and life
Passion for what you do
Providing for your family
13. Why are you a 20 under 30?
Honestly I am honored and surprised by the nomination. I feel undeserving. There are so many other 20-somethings out there who make a difference. Being voted 20 Under 30 gives me confidence that my passion for my career and loving what I do is displayed in my work. I strive to be the best dentist or person that I can be for my patients and my family. I will continue to work hard every day I’m given.
God blessed us each with talents. Once we learn what these talents are and how to use them for something greater than our own benefit, the more we are able to impact society and influence others.
14. What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
One of my partners and I have been doing a mini-residency in dental implants to be able to better serve our patients. This is a service from which many people could benefit. Using dental implants we can replace missing teeth or provide stabilization for denture-wearers. In February we went to the Dominican Republic and placed implants in an underserved area for patients who needed this care but couldn’t afford it.
15. What completed project are you most proud of?
We recently changed the name of our practice. My partners have been serving the Ozarks for nearly 30 years as Barnett-Davis Dental Group. We decided in 2013 to change our name to Excel Dental to better reflect our care philosophy.
I love our new name, and I am proud to be part of such a wonderful practice.
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:
My family makes life worth living.
A day at work wouldn't be complete without smiling faces.
Ten years from now, I hope I'm still learning.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still show up for work.
The best part about being a 20 under 30 is meeting other hardworking professionals.