BUSINESS LEADER PROFILE
Dr. Richard Gutierrez specializes in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics dentistry. (JOSELITO VILLERO PHOTO / February 4, 2011)
Richard Gutierrez, Owner, Smile Paradise Orthodontics
2011 Ross Ave., El Centro, CA 92243
Tell us how you ended up in this line of work.
Attending Central High, I did well in math and science and actually enjoyed them. I used to be very shy, introverted and first entertained the thought of becoming an engineer. In high school I worked at Seeley Gomez Market. There I broke out of my shell and decided I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day. I decided to go into dentistry because I wanted something with more social interaction.
What are memories from your career that stick out with you the most?
A mission trip to Chiapas, Mexico, and having translators translate from two dialects of native Indian languages to Spanish and then I translated for my English-speaking colleagues. I really improved my tooth-extracting abilities on this trip.
Among other memorable moments is the time a mother and her son were desperately seeking help because Riverside Community Hospital didn’t have an on-call dentist or oral surgeon on. They happened upon my doorstep on a Sunday morning while I was doing paperwork. The child had knocked his lower front teeth and surrounding bone loose. I immediately reimplanted the teeth and repositioned the bone. It proved to be successful. Three months ago, 13 years later, the child’s older sister indicated he is fine and has now finished college.
A Brawley child running around a pool slipped and hit his face on the Jacuzzi. Pioneers hospital was sending him to San Diego for treatment. I was able to stabilize his teeth here at my orthodontic office. A similar situation occurred with a young lady playing chicken with a softball... the softball won. I saved her tooth and she is now playing college softball.
What do you most like and least like about your work?
Teenagers dread the idea of “braces” but anticipate the outcome: a beautiful smile. It is a blessing to see young men and women break out of their shell with renewed self-esteem and brace themselves for the future. (Ha!). What I least like about my work is having to get up out of bed in the morning, head to work, and being scheduled two months in advance. It takes the spontaneity out of just taking a day off on a whim. There’s also the reality of making payroll, employee management and paying bills. But once I’m at work, it’s probably among the best professions out there.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to open a business?
To be in business, in general, you must be willing to deal with the issues of running a business: business management, payroll, marketing, etc. To become an orthodontist, first comes college, then four years of dental school and an additional two to three years of specialty graduate program in orthodontics.
How do you give back to the local community?
I give back by providing treatment to the underprivileged children through the Medi-Cal program. I am the only private-practice orthodontist from East San Diego to Riverside to the Arizona border who accepts Medi-Cal patients. I provide free dental and orthodontic treatment through my Riverside general dental office and the El Centro orthodontic offices. I feel a responsibility to contribute to my community and do so by participating in the El Centro Rotary Club’s “STAR” program. I also have served on the boards of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce and Literacy Volunteers of America Imperial Valley, and am currently on the El Centro Regional Hospital Foundation board. I try to participate in all school health fairs or career days that I’m invited to attend.
More about Gutierrez
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 11 in El Centro and 21 in Riverside
FAMILY: Wife: Agueda, four children: Dianna, Andrea, Mia, Carlo
HOBBIES: Boating, piloting (airplane), guitar/trumpet
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