2017 Top Dentist: Matthew Tonioli

Editorial StaffAugust 1, 2017
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Photo by Steve Craft


Dental School: University of Iowa

Years in Practice: 13

What is the most common misconception about endodontics?
That [a root canal] is a painful procedure. Oftentimes bad things out there are compared to a root canal. With modern technology, that just isn’t the case anymore. Many of my patients have told me that endodontic therapy is easier than getting a crown.

Why and how did it become so routine?
As we better understand what’s going on inside of the tooth, we’re able to clean the root canal system more efficiently, much faster and – most importantly – get the patient “comfortably numb.” So instead of taking three appointments of three hours each in the past, now [the procedure] is completed in around an hour or less.

How long can a person realistically keep a tooth after a root canal?
I have seen many patients that have root canals that were done 40 or 50 years ago. If you take care of your teeth, root-canal-treated teeth will last a lifetime.

You’re certified in oral conscious sedation. Why was it important to you to help ease surgical procedures for those with anxiety?
I’ve always cared a lot, maybe too much, about the experience patients have in my office. No matter how compassionate you are, some patients struggle coming into a dental office. I’ve found that for this group of patients, they’re able to undergo normal dental care with simple oral sedation. It changes their lives. It’s amazing to be part of that experience.

You lived in Paris during your LDS mission and speak French. Any favorite French restaurants in the Valley?
I would recommend Coup Des Tartes. Also, with a last name of Tonioli, I enjoy getting into Italian food as well. If you want a great, truly authentic Italian experience, try La Calabria Ristorante.

You grew up on a farm and love the outdoors. What are your favorite hiking, camping and hunting spots in Arizona?
I work a lot with the Boy Scouts. I get out quite a bit. A couple of areas that I love include Devil’s Chasm and Salome Jug. Devil’s Chasm is a beautiful hike with the reward of well- preserved Indian ruins at the end. Salome Jug is an awesome hike in the water, with natural rock slides and required cliff jumps that [are] not for the faint of heart. If you just want a great place to camp, I would recommend the White Mountains anywhere around Big Lake.

What’s the funniest thing a patient has said to you on nitrous oxide?
I remember I was working on a 7-year-old once who was on nitrous, and I told him I would be putting his tooth to sleep and it would feel like he was going to get a little mosquito bite. After I gave him the shot, he started laughing and said, “That wasn’t a mosquito bite, that was more like a bee sting.”

“If I wasn’t a dentist…”
I’d be a teacher.


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