Faculty and Staff, Passings, Prosthodontics

Matt Wood, Former Chair of Prosthodontics, Passes Away

b/w photo of Matt Wood

Matt Wood, DDS, MS, beloved Prosthodontics faculty member for 52 years, DDS Class of 1958 alumnus, brilliant storyteller, Enfield, NC native, and longtime friend of the school, passed away on November 1, 2022. He was 90 years old. 

Wood graduated from UNC in 1954 and the School of Dentistry in 1958. The Enfield, N.C. native joined the school’s faculty as an instructor in the Department of Removable Prosthodontics following his graduation. In 1966, he resigned to pursue his master’s degree in prosthodontics, which he completed in 1968 prior to rejoining the Department of Prosthodontics faculty. Wood served as chair of the department from 1976-88, during which time he established the maxillofacial prosthetics service at UNC. Wood retired from his full-time position at the School of Dentistry in December 1994 and remained an adjunct professor in the Department of Prosthodontics for an additional 16 years.

Nazir Ahmad, DDS, MPH, former student of Adams School of Dentistry, remembers Wood fondly. “Dr. Wood gave the dental students an enjoyable and memorable experience during our removable prosthodontic clinic with his proverbs”, said Ahmad. “When he wanted us to remember key principles, he asked us easy multiple-choice questions. I remember one of the answer options was “hammer banana”.” Wood had a playful nature and amusing syntax that charmed everyone who knew him and allowed his teachings to leave lasting impressions with his students over the decades.

During his tenure at UNC, Wood implemented an innovative television-assisted approach to complete denture clinical instruction, which continues to evolve with technology and be used today. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the school’s summer community service rotation site at the Cherokee Indian Hospital. His innovation and dedication to the school and students was honored in 1985 when he was named the recipient of the Richard F. Hunt Award for Excellence in Teaching, and again in 2009 with a Certificate of Educational Excellence for Teaching presented by the Department of Prosthodontics.

“Matt Wood was a respected, revered, and always colorful member of the Dental School faculty and was a leader responsible for many significant contributions over his decades of service to UNC and the Chapel Hill community,” said friend and former colleague, Garland Hershey, DDS. He was admired by his faculty colleagues, respected by his students, and loved by his patients. He possessed a unique blend of professional competence and homespun humor that endeared him to generations of North Carolinians that he taught over the years.”

A leader in the UNC Dental Alumni Association (UNCDAA), Wood served on the board for several years and as president from 1969-70. He was later honored with the UNCDAA Distinguished Service Award in 1992, and 2008 was given the same award by the Dental Foundation of North Carolina. He also held memberships in several professional organizations, including the American Dental Association, the International College of Dentists, The American Prosthodontic Society, The American College of Prosthodontics, and the Southeastern Academy of Prosthodontics. He served as president of the Southeastern Academy of Prosthodontics in 1997. In 2012, Wood received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Section of the American College of Prosthodontics. He was also a member of Delta Sigma Delta and served as international president in 1982-83.

The school’s Department of Prosthodontics honored him in 2012 with the creation of an endowment fund and an annual continuing education program. The Dr. Matthew T. Wood Faculty Support Endowment Fund supports clinical teaching in the Department of Prosthodontics, including the recruitment and retention of clinical faculty.

“Dr. Wood leaves a legacy as a premier educator and a leader in dentistry,” said Dean Janet Guthmiller, DDS, PhD. His commitment and loyalty to the Adams School of Dentistry was extraordinary and his contributions to the profession and his dedication to future dental professionals was truly inspirational.”

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Dr. Matthew T. Wood Faculty Endowment Fund and mailed to: Dental Foundation of N.C., UNC-CH Adams School of Dentistry, Campus Box 7450, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.