Visiting an endodontist can be a very stressful experience for patients that don’t know what to expect. That’s why Dr. Ralph Dana and the team at York Hill Endodontics take pride in delivering the highest quality of care in a comfortable, relaxed environment. As the latest addition to the York Hill Endodontics team, Dr. Dana is motivated to provide excellent service and help those in need.

We spoke with Dr. Dana to learn more about his journey from his hometown of Montreal and his experience working as an endodontist in Toronto.

Why did you decide to become a Dentist?

There wasn’t one specific reason for my choice to pursue dentistry. As a teenager and young adult, I always enjoyed and was drawn to the sciences. As I started my undergraduate education at McGill University, I knew that I wanted to be in healthcare – specifically a doctor or a dentist. However, I quickly learned that dentistry was more suited to my personality after shadowing both professions.

All aspects of dentistry excited me: particularly the blend of science and art, the ability to have a real impact on people, and the professional autonomy that dentistry allowed when compared to medicine. It also helped that I had an awesome dentist and hygienist growing up, and so I always had a very positive perception of the profession!

After graduating from McGill, I started in the DDS program at the University of Toronto.

Why specialize in endodontics?

I had the opportunity to rotate through all the different specialties while at UofT dental school, but I’ve always been drawn to endodontics. I loved the technical side of performing root canal treatments. You have to be very precise and methodical – every half millimetre matters in this specialty. I felt that those traits were a good fit for my personality. (I’m a bit of a perfectionist! A good thing in dentistry but probably not such a great thing for my personal life.)

Then, in the summer between my 3rd and 4th years, I had the amazing experience of working in my dental school’s emergency clinic for 8 weeks. Having the opportunity to treat dozens of patients coming in with toothaches and dental infections and seeing the impact I could have on these patients by relieving them of their pain (and relieving them of the accompanying stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that you can imagine comes with showing up to a dental clinic on an emergency basis), I knew that endodontics was the area of dentistry that I most enjoyed and at which I felt I could really succeed in. It just seemed like a natural fit.  So, with much enthusiasm I applied to the endodontic specialty program at University of Toronto and, as they say, the rest is history.

How has your experience been working at York Hill Endodontics?

At York Hill Endodontics, not only do we have an incredible team of endodontists, assistants and front desk staff, but we also have the most up-to-date technology and equipment. Modern techniques allow for a much more pleasant, comfortable, and efficient root canal procedure when one compares to techniques used in the past.

I’m quite proud of the treatment we provide and the philosophy of our practice as a whole. We take a conservative approach with diagnosis; root canal treatment is only recommended when warranted. We have a 3D/CBCT scanner in-office, allowing us to increase the accuracy of our diagnosis and treatments. Every root canal treatment in our office is completed under high magnification via an operating microscope. In addition, having multiple endodontists in the same office allows us to consult with and learn from one another. Finally, we always follow up with our patients over time, keeping track of long-term healing and outcomes.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I’ll preface my answer by saying that, as endodontists, we often see patients at their worst. Studies show that 60% of patients have some form of anxiety just seeing the dentist. But then another level of stress is added when you consider that many patients are visiting the endodontic specialist on an urgent care or emergency basis. Obviously, this is a combination of factors that can make for challenging and stressful appointments.

I embrace this challenge every day. Endodontics is so rewarding because I have the opportunity to get my patients out of pain, relieve them of their stress and anxiety, and give them a comfortable experience that exceeds their expectations. When my patients leave with a smile and you can sense the relief in their face after seeing for themselves that having a root canal was in fact “no big deal,” it’s extremely gratifying and definitely my favourite part of the job.

What motivates you to deliver excellent service to your patients?

I’m acutely aware that patients are used to seeing their family dentist. We are a new face and place for them. Many people have never had a root canal before, and the words “root canal” can carry a negative connotation. So, a big part of being a root canal specialist is catering to our patients and making them as comfortable as possible in our office. We show patients exactly what’s going on with digital and 3D imaging to take away some of the anxiety and unknown. I also always go out of my way to explain the procedure step-by-step so that the patient can be assured that there are never any surprises coming.

Honestly, it’s as simple as this – I look at every appointment as an opportunity for me to deliver top-quality care and to leave the patient with a positive experience.

How have you been managing to get through the Covid pandemic?

Luckily – or unluckily – endodontists were not affected for very long by the initial lockdown. Endodontic treatment was still important in managing dental emergencies even in the first wave of Covid. In many ways, still being able to work and see patients really allowed me to keep some semblance of normalcy through the pandemic.

As tough of a time as it’s been, this year plus has also had its own blessings. The first few weeks of lockdown (when our offices closed) allowed me to spend more quality time at home with my wife (then-fiancée). The last year was also quite memorable in that we managed to get married in the summer of 2020 (we didn’t think it’d happen!), plus we got our Bernedoodle puppy Ernie earlier this year.


What are your hobbies outside of work?

Spending lots of time with Ernie is probably number one right now!

I enjoy staying active and spending as much time outdoors as possible, often going for long walks and hikes. I’m always reading books and dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to read, even if it means getting up at 5:30 AM. In the last year, I’ve also cooked more meals than I probably had in my entire pre-Covid life prior, so cooking has definitely become a hobby of mine. I also love travelling, and my wife and I had several trips (including a honeymoon) lined up this past year before the pandemic. I’m definitely excited to resume international travel!

We know you’re from Montreal, but what do you love about Toronto?

Once I moved to Toronto, I knew within a few months that I wasn’t going back to Montreal any time soon.

This city just has so much to do. There are countless pockets of Toronto that I’m constantly discovering, even after living here for 12+ years. We’ve got beaches and ravines, the Toronto Island (possibly my favourite summer spot), the elegance of Yorkville, the bustle of the downtown core, the Jays and Raptors, and all the restaurants and shopping you could possibly want.

Toronto’s home. I think I’m here for good.

Get in touch with Dr. Dana and the experts of York Hill Endodontics today!