Meet Dr. Vela

Dr. Vela was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. Following high school, he attended Baylor University where he received his BS degree in Neuroscience. His undergraduate experience motivated him to seek additional knowledge in the field of pain and pharmacology and he was accepted into the PhD program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Vela studied peripheral pain mechanisms under the direction of the world-renowned clinician scientist, Dr. Kenneth Hargreaves, professor of Pharmacology and chair of Endodontics at UTHSCSA, who encouraged him to utilize his pain research for patient care in endodontics. Dr. Vela became only the second student to successfully complete the simultaneous DDS / PhD in Pharmacology program and was awarded a prestigious grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and was an AADR & J.J Hatton Finalist for his research in the field of orofacial pain. He received numerous awards such the Oral Biology Award and the Maria Yeung Award, just to name a few. Dr. Vela then accepted an offer to enter into the Endodontic program at the University of Iowa, where he utilized his research to obtain NIH T32 and F32 research grants, AAE funding, and was also asked to serve on the Scientific Affairs Committee. During his Residency, Dr. Vela developed a sincere passion for endodontics and pain management and how it relates to patient care. Dr. Vela volunteers as an adjunct faculty member in the Endodontic Department providing clinical teaching to dental students and residents as well as lectures on pain mechanisms. He has presented numerous continuing education courses on endodontic treatment and pain management and care. Dr. Vela’s main focus is on providing pain-free, excellent endodontic treatment using the most modern techniques available. Using his unique background as a clinician-scientist, he strives to make each root canal an enjoyable experience for his patients by managing not only the technical component of root canal treatment but pain as well.

Joe is married to Dr. Kaci Vela, the owner and Orthodontist at Orthodontic Associates of Iowa (, which is located in their joint specialty office, Dental Specialists of Iowa (located in Mt, Pleasant, IA).  They love to spend time traveling and seeing the country as Joe is also a commercial single and multi engine instrument rated pilot.