Emily Mattingly, D.D.S., grew up in a family steeped in dentistry. They were already three generations deep — her great-grandfather, grandfather and father — before she came along. But it wasn't a foregone conclusion that she would become a fourth generation.
"Actually, I originally said I wanted to go to med school, and my father said, 'No, I don't think you want to do that. That's not a great decision,'" she recalled. "Then I said, 'I think I might want to go to dental school.' He said, 'No, I don't think you want to do that either.' I was like, 'But I think I do.'"
Her father then presented her with challenges to help her test if she was aiming in the right direction with her career interests. She had already worked in the family's dental office starting at about age 14, earning minimum wage to file charts. Her father urged her toward further immersion.
"When I was 17, he said, 'If you're really serious, then you have to come and learn how to be a dental assistant,'" Dr. Mattingly said. "So, I survived that training, working with him and my grandfather, as a dental assistant."
Dr. Mattingly also later worked as a dental hygienist in their practice.
"I did a lot of different roles in the dental office before then finally going to dental school," she said. "When I train a dental assistant now, it's nice to let them know that I did this job, too, and these are the things that helped me be a better assistant then."
She earned her dental degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry in 2012 after previously earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2008.
Not only did she go on to become a fourth-generation dentist, while in dental school together, she also met and got to know her future husband, David Mattingly, D.D.S., another dentist. Together with him, her father and a couple other dentists, Dr. Mattingly is a partner in McCoy Samples Mattingly Dental Clinic, based in Chillicothe, Missouri.
Dr. Mattingly's achievements have inspired accolades and recognition, including being named a 2022 ADA 10 Under 10 Award recipient.