An Olympic Torch and an Orthodontic Torch: The Life and Purpose of Dr Straty Righellis
The Orthodontist’s Orthodontist
He carried the Olympic Torch as just a young teenager, and today he caries a different kind of torch.
How did it begin?
He was sitting in his orthodontist’s chair, getting his braces adjusted when the thought came to him, “This is what I want to do when I grow up!” It wasn’t from any long deliberation or parental advice or any planned decision tree. The origin of that thought sprang from an internal “”I know this is right for me, ” intuitive sense of his future life’s work, a gut decision made when he was in the sixth grade.
His 100% Greek parents gave their first borne, Straty Righellis, the freedom to discover his own direction, while doting as little as possible. Still, they were Greek. They had to dote some. His father was an optometrist. His mom helped in the practice. So healthcare has been in his blood from birth.
Growing up a rural agricultural town of Arvin, California with only 5000 people had certainly colored his thinking. He knew early on he would not last long, picking strawberries and cotton, jobs he did as a kid during the picking seasons.
He was small for his age, but that didn’t stop him from loving basketball and baseball and running cross-country as a young man. He wrestled in the smallest weight class but his energy and passion were not bounded by his size.
His parents were big influences from early in his life, showing him by example the how to’s of living. His mother showed him the value of persistence and communication. His father taught him the value of keeping your word and being a good citizen for your community.
Others who influenced him included a high school basketball coach who taught him life lessons on the long bus trips to away games; a high school English teacher he didn’t like at all who taught (tortured?) grammar and the power of nouns and a math teacher who taught him valuable lessons on how to study that he uses to this day and now teaches others in his classes.
John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach at UCLA who won the NCAA championship 10 of 11 years, was a hero as well. It was from Wooden that Straty learned the value of preparation and execution. To this day, his two sons’ childhood friends good-naturedly rib him about his phrase favorite: “Preparation and execution.”
He attended the University of the Pacific for his undergraduate degree in biology and then entered UCLA’s dental school.
It was while he was in dental school that he met Mary Lou, a college student from the University of Wisconsin and struck up a romance that continues to this day. They had a long distance relationship until she graduated so they could get married. Their wedding event spawned three other marriages of their mutual friends who met while they were celebrating Straty and Mary Lou’s nuptials in Wisconsin!
Straty says Mary Lou has been his best friend and best advisor especially when he really needs to hear it!
After graduating and getting married, Straty and Mary Lou decided to move to Oakland because he liked the diversity of the culture there and the entire Bay area. He opened his practice and waited. He said it was a bit slow to start as he only had 6 patients in his four months of practice! It didn’t take much longer before the good people of Oakland and the Piedmont area caught on to this new orthodontic wiz, who thereafter made a name for himself that carries forth to this day.
His career has included teaching at UCSF for 17 years at both the dental school and orthodontic residents program.
Straty is always looking for better answers and better care for his patients. He has lived orthodontics 24/7 before the term even existed.
Today he employs some of the most sophisticated technology available to make for better diagnosis, better treatment and reduced total treatment times. This is something the kids and parents really like.
In the 1990, he met Dr Ron Roth, a man who would become a mentor, friend and guide. Dr Roth provided answers to problems of predictable long-term results and a new way to diagnose that gave the best plan of care that put teeth in stable positions. This had been sorely missing from the orthodontic treatment menu.
He decided he could best help by teaching with Dr Roth. He taught with him for years until Dr Roth’s death at too young an age. Today, Dr Straty Righellis continues the work begun by Dr Roth, teaching high-level orthodontics to orthodontists all over the world.
Dr Righellis is a professional evaluator of papers on orthodontic research for the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dento-Facial Orthopedics as well as writing over 35 articles for professional refereed orthodontic journals. He had contributed two chapters to orthodontic textbooks and has served as a Director to the Pacific Society of Orthodontists and President of the prestigious Angle Society-Northern California.
Today, Dr. Straty Righellis continues to teach and mentor orthodontists on excellence in orthodontics in post-graduate lecture halls all over the world, while continuing in his clinical practice here in Oakland, CA.
He has presented over 450 lectures around the world in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, China, South and North America.
Practicing and teaching other orthodontists has been a major part of his career – one he enjoys because of the help they are able to deliver to their patients.
Orthodontists from many parts of the world come to him to learn and look over his shoulder and see how he treats in special small group sessions in his office in special min-residencies that have few available spots because of demand.
He carried the Olympic Torch on its way to Squaw Valley from Greece for the 1960 Winter Olympics as a young man.
Today he carries a different kind of torch. A torch of excellence. A torch borne from his decades of practicing clinical care in his private practice. A torch ignited from teaching, speaking, writing, living and breathing orthodontics done the right way.
Dr. Straty Righellis brings the light of orthodontic care that springs from a different place, one based on a different diagnostic method that has defined, healthcare based treatment goals, not just straight teeth. A lot of Drs can offer “straight teeth,” but this is more than just that because it focuses on creating healthy teeth, beautiful smiles and a proportioned, symmetrical face.
This method focuses on making healthy joints and having the correct posture in the neck. This one helps ensure the right guidance for growth and development of the person’s jaws and face using a special assessment called the visual treatment objective composed of both facial pictures and special x-rays overlaid on each other.
The depth of the value of this unique methodology is measured in the decades of health and higher personal confidence for his patients. A confidence that comes from his patients having big, bright beautiful smiles and living healthy lives of their choosing. And leaves their parents with knowing confidence of having made the right choice.
This is Dr Straty Righellis, a man who exemplifies the term doctor as one who teaches – the Orthodontist’s Orthodontist.