40 UNDER 40 HONOREES

  • MATT KARSTEN

MATT KARSTEN

  • Elgin, Illinois
  • Kids First Pediatric Dentistry

Age:

38

Name of Practice:

Kids First Pediatric Dentistry

Specialty:

Pediatric Dentistry

Education:

DMD, Southern Illinois University; pediatric residency, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia


Why He Was Nominated

A father of five, Dr. Karsten has transformed his practice into a wonderland of games, toys, kids’ movies and extravagant wall art. He makes use of technology to benefit his young charges, and it’s working: He now sees an average of 130 new word-of-mouth patients a month.

Inspiration

After a stint in the Army, Dr. Karsten tended bar. One customer, a dentist, saw his potential: “ ‘If you like to work with your hands and help people, you should be a dentist,’ ” Dr. Karsten recalls the man saying. “I watched him work, and I was sold.”

Favorite Part of the Profession

Showing kids that a trip to the dentist doesn’t have to be a nightmare: “It’s the greatest feeling to take scared kids and get them through it.”

Tool He Can't Live Without

Lasers. “We can do almost all our work without having to numb someone,” he says.