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Hidden Gems: Meet Dr. Matthew Durschlag of San Diego Smile Pros

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Matthew Durschlag.

Hi Dr. Durschlag, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My journey toward becoming the owner of an orthodontics and pediatric dental office was a long one. The beginning really goes back to the end of high school, about 17 years ago. I got a part time job working for my local dentist in Rancho Penasquitos. I would help out around the office and was able to get behind the scenes exposure to the detailed work of a dentist. I quickly realized that dentistry is something I could definitely see myself pursuing as a career, which led me to apply to an accelerated dental program at the University of the Pacific. After earning my Bachelor’s degree in three years, I was accepted into the University of the Pacific dental school. It was there that I really discovered my passion for all thing’s dentistry. I found that the combination of science and art was a perfect fit for my personality and skill set. I worked long and hard while in dental school, and graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree three years later. Upon graduation, I joined the US Navy as a dental officer and moved to Okinawa, Japan. The experience I had in the Navy was truly unique and amazing. I was able to practice general dentistry, travel around Asia, and live in a place I had never even remotely expected to see. I realized that being a general dentist was a great career, with the ability to practice all forms of dentistry. However, I never felt that I was a true expert in any one area. I could perform many different procedures at a high level, but I could not treat at the level of a specialist. To get there, I knew I needed to specialize and train in only one area of dentistry. Out of the various options, I was most interested in orthodontics. The ability to transform patient’s entire smile and boost their self-esteem and confidence over a period of one to two years was incredibly appealing to me.

After working closely with several orthodontists, I decided to pursue specialty training in orthodontics. I was honorably discharged from the Navy after three years, and was accepted into Loma Linda University’s orthodontic specialty residency. I spent 27 months learning about and treating exclusively orthodontic patients. My knowledge and skills in the area grew tremendously, and when I graduated with a Master’s degree, I was finally considered a dental specialist. I made my way back to my hometown of San Diego and started working as an orthodontic specialist for several different offices. I really enjoyed treating orthodontic patients with braces and Invisalign. Orthodontics became my passion and the changes I was able to impart on my patients made all of the training worth it. My time working as an associate was enjoyable, but I knew that long term I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to make all of the decisions around how I treated patients and provide them with the best possible experience throughout the process. When I got the opportunity to become the owner of one of the offices I worked at, I was lucky enough to make the transition a success. I became the owner of one of San Diego’s top orthodontic and pediatric dentistry offices in an amazing location near Balboa Park. Since becoming an owner in September 2020, I was fortunate to have an amazing, supportive staff and patient base. I’ve worked at the office for three years, so the transition has been quite smooth. I feel very lucky every day to be able to increase my patient’s confidence levels and self-esteem by giving them the amazing smiles that they deserve, and an experience that that won’t forget!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not always been a smooth road. Not by a longshot. The countless classes, exams, practical tests, and more exams take a toll. I didn’t always get a perfect score, but I worked hard to make sure I did the best I could. After that, once I made it to the working world, there were more eye-opening realities. San Diego is a competitive environment and there were not any openly available job positions when I first started out. I had to reach out to hundreds of offices and doctors to see if they were open to hiring an associate. I got extremely lucky to get a few responses, and then even more lucky to have found the office that I eventually ended up buying. It took me around 6 months to end up working full time in San Diego. However, it was all worth the wait.

We’ve been impressed with San Diego Smile Pros, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
San Diego Smile Pros is a specialty dentistry office, offering orthodontics for all ages and pediatric dental care. We consist of three doctors including myself, who each have gone through additional years of specialty training after dental school to become experts in our areas. Our team takes pride in excellent customer service and putting the patient’s needs above their own. The outstanding staff is what truly makes our office special. Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Hayes, treats her patients like her own children and the team makes our patient’s early dental experiences exceptional. We have a lot of experience in all that we do, and we uniquely have been treating patients with the Invisalign clear aligner system for many years as the previous owner was one of the early adopters. We are known for taking on difficult and challenging cases with Invisalign which really helps us stand out.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
My favorite childhood memory is all of the hockey tournaments I used to play. I grew up playing year-round roller hockey and ice hockey. I really enjoyed the family trips to new places to play hockey. It was my childhood obsession. I still play hockey, but only sparingly compared to then!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Dr. David Adams, Tanya Pineda, Erica Cupat, Mariza Lopez, Breelyn Smith, Chantal Casias, April Cortes, Yossy Torres, Briana Moreno, Silvia Romo

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