A chat with Dr. Matson

We recently sat down with Dr. Matson for a chat about his career and motivations. We thought you would enjoy his answers:

1. What made you decide to become a pediatric dentist?

Even from a young age, I enjoyed working with young children.  I think it’s probably because they are so genuine in their emotions and much, much easier to read than adults.  You can be silly, laugh and have fun all day with kids!  When I applied to dental school, one of the things that I wrote about on my personal essay was my uncle Kerry, who is a pediatrician in Washington state.  He was always the adult who could relate to us kids the best and yet still be the person that we looked to for help when one of the cousins had an injury or other ailment.  I wanted to lead a life where I could be goofy and have fun, but still truly be an asset and advocate for children’s health like Kerry.  Every day I get to go to work, be a goof and still help children so I feel very blessed to have landed in this career.

2. Do you have any memories that stick out to you of going to the dentist as a child?

Believe it or not, I’ve actually never had a cavity, so going to the dentist for me was always just a routine preventative thing we did every 6 months.  I did have four teeth taken out for orthodontic reasons when I was in middle school, so that was a little bit exciting, but I was completely out for the procedure so I really only remember the funny feeling of the laughing gas right before getting the IV and then waking up after everything was done.  Overall, I guess I was a pretty fortunate kid in all of my experiences.

3. How would I describe a perfect day at work?

A perfect day would have me busy, with a variety of different kids and different dental procedures to do throughout the day.  No kids would be sad when they came to visit and every parent would be happy.  That would be a pretty awesome day.

4. Some things at my job that make me feel happy/fulfilled?

I think the best feeling I get from my job is probably when I work with a fearful child and show them that dentistry doesn’t need to be a scary thing.  People have fears for all sorts of reasons; maybe they’ve been mistreated in the past, maybe they have been fed scary stories from a friend, sibling or relative, maybe they are just a nervous person.  Whatever the reason, it feels great when I can start with someone who doesn’t necessarily trust dentistry and finish with them smiling, high-fiving and saying, “that was easier than I thought!” 

5. What are your hobbies?  What do I like to do in your free-time?

In no particular order, I like to: Lift weights, run, listen to music (usually alternative rock), go to concerts, try new foods and restaurants, cheer for the Washington Huskies and the Seahawks (Go Dawgs, Go Hawks!), hike, browse Reddit and sports blogs, watch movies, make my wife laugh and spend time with her, travel, scuba-dive, build things (I’ve built a photo-booth, chandelier, wine-barrel side table, Halloween helmets, and lots of other random things), laugh, spend time with family and friends, and  play with my dog.

6. What do you like about living in Austin and what brought you here?

My wife and I lived in Seattle for ten years before moving to Texas for my pediatric residency in Dallas.  We grew to love the outdoors, the diversity of ideas and acceptance of people with differing lifestyles from our own, the food and the culture; HOWEVER, we never came to love the ever present grey that loomed over our lives nine months out of the year.  Austin is the best of both worlds because it offers all of those wonderful things without the rain and cold of the Pacific Northwest.  During residency, we took a number of different trips down to Austin and it quickly became our favorite place in Texas.  Both of us applied for jobs here, were hired, and the rest is history!

7. What is your goal for each patient that comes to the practice?

For every patient that comes through our door, I want them to leave our office with a positive outlook on oral health and to leave in a better state of oral health than when they walked through our doors.  I want to provide patients and parents with the knowledge and skills to help minimize oral diseases like tooth decay and gum disease through preventative education.  Also, I want our practice to feel like it’s a comfortable place where the children and parents feel safe, well cared for and a “home” for their dental needs.

8. Tell us about your family…

My immediate family consists of myself, my older sister (Brianna) and my parents (Dean and Renee).  My mom and dad live in Washington state and are a retired research chemist (Dad) and high school counselor (Mom).  They are wonderful people who raised me with lots of love and laughter.  My sister lives in Oregon, helps to manage my brother-in-law’s dental practice and has two wonderful kids that are ages one and four.  I married into a fantastic family as well.  My parents in-law retired earlier this year and moved from California to Lakeway, TX to be closer to my wife and I.  I also have two fantastic sisters-in-law that live in Boston.  One is a medical resident on her way to being a cardiologist and the other works in social work.  My wife, Meghan, is a project manager with a company here in Austin.  She has the biggest heart and is the sweetest person I know and has the amazing gift of making friends with everyone she meets.  We have no kids, YET, but we’ve come to the point in our lives where we are finally ready and excited to have some of our own.  We do have one wrinkly “dogger”, Akayla, who is a 5 year old Shar-Pei that we spoil with love in the interim.

9. What volunteer service have you participated in?

When we lived in Seattle I used to volunteer with an organization called Treehouse which worked with foster children to provide them better opportunities in education.  I used to tutor kids in their after school program and worked one on one with a mentee through a program called “coaching to college”.  Between undergrad and dental school I spent a few months in Peru working in an after school program as well.  I’ve done multiple dental related things like free dental care for children of the boys and girls club and a dental mission trip to Honduras.  Now that roots are being planted more firmly here in Austin, I’m on the hunt for more opportunities in the community and excited for things we will be doing through the office!

10. Any other interesting facts about you?

I tried out to be Harry the Husky, the University of Washington mascot, my Freshman year of college.  I got to put on the suit and dance around for a few minutes for a panel of people from the athletic department while holding up signs and pantomiming things like all mascots do.  They seemed to like me, but I received a letter a few weeks later saying essentially, “we liked you, but unfortunately the costume doesn’t fit a 6’2” frame and there was a very noticeable gap between the pant suit and your feet where your legs showed through and we won’t be altering the suit to fit your frame.”  They don’t know what they missed out on.