It’s a long way from Caracas, Venezuela, to the Sooner State, but for Dr. Gabriela Restuccia the winding road that led her to Oklahoma has also led her to a new home, new friends and a very fulfilling career.
As the junior partner at Orthodontics Exclusively, Restuccia is providing life-changing orthodontic care for both child and adult patients. She joined the Norman-based practice–owned by Dr. Mark Revels and Dr. Tim Shannon–in 2016 and is the sole practitioner at their satellite office, 1516 SW 119th St. in Oklahoma City.
Her love of dentistry came naturally, and her career decision did as well.
“My aunt is a general dentist in Venezuela, and I have always been very close to her,” Restuccia said.
As a small child, she attended dental school classes with her aunt, and later would “help” her at her practice every day. As a teenager, she continued to assist at the practice, eventually graduating from her aunt’s alma mater, the Universidad Central de Venezuela.
Once she started rotating through different specialties in dental school, Restuccia said she fell in love with orthodontics.
“For me, it’s an art,” she said. “I truly love learning about human growth and development, and that is something that we orthodontists use on a daily basis to treat our growing patients. Orthodontics is a great combination of art, physics, biology, physiology, plus a lot of patience and fun!”
Restuccia is the granddaughter of Italian immigrants who fled to Venezuela in the wake of World War II. A large Italian community was established in the country post-war, and her childhood was a wonderful blend of both cultures.
“I grew up with everything Italian at home, amazing pasta, pizza, cannoli, music and soccer, and at the same time, all that was mixed with fun, friends dancing merengue, going to crystal clear beaches every single weekend and eating arepas,” she said. “I had the best childhood there until things started getting really bad once communism showed up, around 1999-2000. Once communism came to stay, a lot of families started suffering, most of my friends left the country, and many, many people lost everything they had.
“I remember being 12 or 13 years old when I knew that eventually I would have to leave my country, which is something that no one, let alone a child or teenager, should have to think about doing – ever,” she continued. “Most people usually take for granted that you get to be born, raised and grow old in the same country with your family, friends, culture and activities. That’s something I didn’t get to know. Communism took more than just a job, money or private property from me, my family and friends. It robbed us of a country, a patriotism and a future at the place we called home.”
To prepare for her eventual departure from her home country, after high school Restuccia wanted to improve her English by living in an English-speaking country. She would end up in Norman, where one of her father’s cousins lived, where she enrolled at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for English as a Second Language.
“I was 17 years old when I moved to Oklahoma for the first time, and I loved it,” she said. “It was my first time getting to know and appreciate (American) culture, its people, the air of freedom we were losing back home, and all the responsibilities that come with it. After that experience, I knew I would eventually come back for more. It was also an opportunity that I was able to open up for my two sisters in their turn, as they did the same thing after me, and stayed at OU for their education.”
She would return to Venezuela to graduate from dental college, which was followed by a return to the United States and a residency in orthodontics through the OU College of Dentistry. She met Drs. Revel and Shannon during that residency and joined their practice a year after its completion. All three are faculty members in OU’s graduate orthodontic program, and Restuccia also helps teach some classes for junior dental students.
Anyone interested in a free consultation, either virtual or in-house, is invited to contact Restuccia’s team at 405.829.6498 or through OrthoExc.com.
“Truth is, every patient that comes to see me is special and has a great story,” she said. “I love to create relationships with my patients and their families, hear their stories, their achievements and dreams. I want to make sure they have a smile they feel confident with, that will help them achieve anything they want in life! Seeing a smile on their faces is that I enjoy and treasure the most in my work.
“I believe we are more than just an orthodontic office,” she added. “Something that I really valued when I decided to join Dr. Shannon and Dr. Revels was how much they care not only for their patients but for their team and the community. We try to be as involved as we can.”
When she’s not caring for patients, Restuccia spends time with her sisters, Antonietta and Anna Maria, and their families. She’s also a cook, a huge fan of both soccer and car racing, and enjoys traveling.
“To me, being a Sooner means commitment, responsibility and happiness,” she said. “I wake up every single day thankful to be here. The state of Oklahoma and its people took in a stranger and made me feel at home from day one. To me, a perfect day is during Thanksgiving, at Broken Bow with my family, enjoying the nature, hiking and cooking together, while watching an Oklahoma sunset. There is never a day that I take for granted that I get to live in this beautiful state.”