Former Orthodontic Faculty at VCU School of Dentistry for 32 years
In September 1984, Dr. Peter Wendell hung a shingle for Williamsburg Orthodontics and waited for the phone to ring. The transplanted New Yorker knew no one in the area beyond a few family members.
Forty years later, Williamsburg Orthodontics is the go-to practice in the Historic Triangle, having served 20,000 patients in a community that has become home to Peter and his family. Today Peter treats second- and third-generation family members of his original patients.
“I love what I do, and I could do it indefinitely,” Peter says. “It’s fortunate when your personality and your chosen profession jive together. I feel very blessed I picked the right profession.”
The son of a surgeon, Peter knew healthcare would be his future path. He enjoyed working with his hands and earned his DDS from State University of New York in Buffalo. Midway through dental school, Peter grew fascinated by the area of expertise he knew the least about.
“That was orthodontics because we don’t get much training in dental school on orthodontics,” he said. “I found myself hanging around the orthodontics clinic and learned more about the whole movement of teeth.”
Peter advanced to complete his Orthodontic Residency at University of Connecticut and practiced in Rhode Island for a year before relocating to Williamsburg, favoring its moderate climate and the opportunity to develop a practice.
Although Peter never aspired to teach, when contacted by the VCU School of Dentistry, he jumped at the chance. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthodontics for 32 years, he taught nearly 300 residents, many of whom became lifelong friends. One of his favorite students, Dr. Matt Eppright, stood out and went on to join Williamsburg Orthodontics as an associate. Within a year and a half, Matt and his wife, Dr. Patti Eppright, became full partners in the practice.
“I started this practice from nothing,” Peter said. “I didn’t want to sell to a corporation or something like that. I care about the legacy of the practice, and I have the right people in Matt and Patti to carry on the legacy.”
Peter and his wife, Kim, have five adult children and eight grandchildren. In addition to golf and traveling, Peter enjoys giving back to a community he cherishes. For more than 20 years, he was on the Board of Directors at Dreamcatchers, an equine therapeutic riding center. Currently, he serves on the local TowneBank Board of Directors.
“I love Williamsburg,” Peter said. “Of all the places I’ve traveled in the world and in the United States, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than Williamsburg. I love the geography of it. I love the climate. There are a lot of places I love in this country, but there’s no place I’d rather be than here.”
Matthew Eppright, D.D.S., M.Sd
Board Certified Orthodontist
DDS — New York University
Orthodontic Residency – VCU School of Dentistry
President of Virginia Orthodontic Education and Research Foundation
Family means everything to Dr. Matt Eppright — his family and yours. Among the reasons he focused on dentistry was because of the work-life balance the career offered without sacrificing the commitment to patient care.
Matt grew up loving soccer and started at defender all four years at Haverford College. Shaped by the positive role models around him, Matt discovered he had a knack for connecting with younger people authentically to motivate them to understand the importance of good dental hygiene habits.
“I think my superpower is my memory,” Matt said. “I care about the little details. When you remember those small details and show people you believe in them, it’s almost always a positive experience. When I treat kids, I remember whether they played a sport, are in theater or love to read Harry Potter. I like to have a real conversation with them and learn what motivates them so we can apply that to their orthodontic care.”
The Pennsylvania native completed dental school at New York University and was inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society. Among all the specialties, orthodontics appealed to him most.
“I feel like I’m a very creative person, and I like that in orthodontics, you have all the possible pieces and you’re creating scientific art,” Matt said. “It’s a positive specialty. You bring out the positive in the patients.”
As a resident at VCU School of Dentistry, Matt studied under a personable professor who made an impression on him — Dr. Peter Wendell. “He was pretty much everyone’s favorite faculty,” Matt said.
During dental school, Matt and fellow student Patti Ong became friends and count their first Mets/Phillies game as their official first date. They began a long distance relationship as residents and married in 2012.
Matt and Patti practiced in Allentown, Pennsylvania, for three years before both decided to make a career move. Matt connected with Peter to talk about a potential transition when Peter surprised him by asking if they wanted to join him at Williamsburg Orthodontics.
“It was a crazy curveball,” Matt said.
Matt and Patti visited Williamsburg and fell in love with what became their new hometown in December 2015. Only a year and a half later, the two became full partners in the practice.
“Peter is the prototype of how you want to treat patients and live life,” Matt said. “Patti and I have compassion for people and the commitment to do everything we humanly can to make people happy. We care about all aspects of this practice and this community.
“We will always uphold the values Peter established for Williamsburg Orthodontics. It truly is a special place.”
Matt and Patti are parents to daughters Quinn and Lennox. Matt has been a longtime coach for the Virginia Reign girls youth soccer program. The family is also active in King of Glory Lutheran Church.
Patti Ong Eppright, D.D.S.
Board Certified Orthodontist
DDS — New York University
Orthodontic Residency – University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health
Dr. Patti Eppright is the crafty sort, who delights in making personalized gifts for family and friends. That’s among the reason she loves being an orthodontist, where she gets to work with her hands to make positive changes for patients.
“When I work with a patient, I see the transformation and how happy they are when they have straight teeth,” she says. “Having a great smile adds to your confidence.”
Patti grew up in the Plano suburb of Dallas, where she was a competitive figure skater and swimmer from an early age. She enjoyed basketball and cheerleading in high school but was geared toward academics, graduating at the age of 16. She completed a bachelor’s in advertising at University of Texas, but three years in, realized healthcare, specifically dentistry, was her professional calling.
Orthodontics, the most craft-based out of all the specialties, matched her goals. She excelled at
New York University College of Dentistry, graduating second in her class and inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society. At NYU, she met Matt Eppright, a fellow student in the program, and they had their first date at a Mets/Phillies game.
Both were accepted at their top choices for orthodontic residencies. Patti attended University of Rochester’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health while Matt completed his residency at VCU School of Dentistry.
Matt and Patti married in 2012 and initially worked in Allentown, Pennsylvania, until Matt connected with his favorite faculty mentor from his residency, Dr. Peter Wendell. When invited to be part of Williamsburg Orthodontics, neither Matt nor Patti hesitated to make the move. Patti had grown fond of the area during her visits to see Matt while he was a resident.
“I really like Williamsburg and the sense of community here,” she says. “It feels like a place where everyone helps each other out.”
Patti and Matt became full partners in the practice in 2017. Both share the commitment of continuing the legacy Peter established 40 years ago.
“We will keep this practice the way he started it — giving the customer service that people want, being involved in the community and keeping people happy and excited about coming to us,” Patti says.
Patti and Matt are parents to two daughters, Quinn and Lennox. When Patti can find a spare moment, she dabbles in cooking dinners from Instagram recipe finds, loves reading and enjoys fitness and yoga. Their family is also active in King of Glory Lutheran Church.