While standing in line at the DPS (DMV if you’re not a native Texan) has always been about as much fun as a trip to the dentist, if Dr. Matthew Schwed has anything to say about it, that cliche may no longer apply. He envisions a dental practice where children look forward to their visits with anticipation, rather than trepidation. Now, with the opening of his new practice, his dream can become a reality.
Dr. Matthew Schwed was born and raised in Vineland, New Jersey, a small farming town located about an hour and a half southwest of Lakewood. He spent much of his childhood playing guitar, being involved in Young Judea as well as the Boy Scouts of America where he earned the highest rank of Eagle Scout. After graduating from Vineland High School, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, graduating with honors and making Phi Beta Kappa. He then went to Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem for two years where he connected with his Jewish roots on a more intense level. Upon his return to the US, he earned a second bachelor’s degree at Columbia University, where he studied nursing. He and his wife, Tova, met while he was finishing his nursing degree, and after graduating, he accepted a position as an oncology nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
The consummate overachiever, Dr. Schwed decided he wished to pursue a higher level of education. “I ultimately chose dentistry because I loved working with my hands and I’ve always had an eye for detail. I consider myself privileged to be able to work in a field that combines science, artistry, and medicine, all in the pursuit of improving the health and well-being of another. Even more importantly, nothing gives me greater satisfaction than having a child in pain come into my office and leave smiling.”
Getting into dental school while working two jobs was a challenge. Dr. Schwed enrolled at City College in the evenings as a pre-dental student, and by the end of his first year of prerequisite studies, he and Tova had welcomed their first daughter, Racheli into the family. “I would study for my chemistry exams with my newborn on my lap,” he recalls.
Several years and three additional children later, Dr. Schwed graduated from NYU College of Dentistry, and was fortunate enough to be selected for specialty training in pediatric dentistry. As a result, he earned diplomate status from the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2017.
Finally, after 13 years on New York City’s Lower East Side, Dr. Schwed and his family packed their bags and headed south to Dallas. “We visited for Shabbos and we fell in love with the Jewish community. It is a uniquely warm and supportive place. The Dallas Jewish community is really special.” The Schweds are now proud Torah Day School and (soon to be) Mesorah parents, as well as members of Congregation Ohev Shalom.
A parable is told of two men who own a candy shop. One loves to make people happy and does so by giving them candy, charging them only to keep the enterprise going. The other sells candy because he loves being profitable. Both men accomplish the same task but have disparate motives. Dr. Schwed resembles the first man. He genuinely wants to help people and uses his strengths to fulfill this goal. Noting how a smile makes the first impression, Dr. Schwed is proud to help his patients look great and feel good about themselves. “I’ve had patients who came in hiding their smiles only to leave after treatment bearing huge grins.”
At Schwed Pediatric Dentistry, safety is their priority. To minimize the potential risks of today’s pandemic world, Dr. Schwed has put into practice some innovative measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Unlike most pediatric dental offices that utilize an open floor plan, Dr. Schwed designed his office with individual rooms for privacy and safety. Patients are asked to wait in their cars until called in for their appointments, and all who enter must wear a mask. Patients are then asked to rinse with a molecular iodine solution which has powerful virucidal properties. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Dr. Schwed works with a state-of-the-art piece of equipment–the Solea CO2 laser–as a replacement for the commonly used dental drill. Not only does it produce less aerosolized particles in comparison to drills, but it allows him to fill most cavities without even requiring an injection. Clearly, Dr. Schwed is doing everything in his power to control bacterial and viral particles from spreading in order to keep his patients safe.
Even though there are so many obvious reasons to use Dr. Schwed, as he is close to the Jewish community (located where Campbell meets the George Bush freeway), very well qualified, and taking every safety precaution, there is another factor, as well. The Torah clearly mandates that we are obligated to patronize our community’s businesses. It is our responsibility to ensure that our money is used to help support our fellow Jews. There are many professionals in our community. It is so important that we hire them for what they are trained to do. Setting aside the spiritual angle, it is only practical to spend our money within our community, where we know it will be used to pay tuition for Jewish schools, to buy kosher food and other necessities. Dr. Schwed and many others are offering the services that they can best provide. Is it not our privilege and duty to support them?