Like many first generation Australians, Spiro Pazios was urged by his immigrant parents to do well at school and go to university. While unsure of what to do once he got there, Spiro, unafraid of hard work and change, is now one of Canberra’s leading orthodontists.
Director of Embrace Orthodontists in Manuka and Belconnen, Spiro was born in Adelaide to Greek immigrant parents.
“I was first generation so we were almost forced to go to university,” he explains. “I had to become ‘something’. I hated the pressure back then but I thank them now.”
Attending local public schools in Adelaide, Spiro did well with his studies and enrolled in engineering at Adelaide University. “I lasted one hour so I enrolled in law, but that lasted just one day. There was going to be way too much reading,” he jokes.
Spiro switched to science and after a year with good results, he moved to dentistry. After graduating, he worked in a few private practices before deciding he wanted to go out on his own.
“I could see fantastic opportunities available if you worked hard and were good at business, as well as being a good dentist.”
Spiro bought his own practice in Adelaide and built a solid business during the next seven years but, he says, “I really like people and I wanted to enjoy my work. But people really don’t like dentists; they think we are going to hurt them. It is not a good basis for a relationship.”
A dinner with some prominent Adelaide orthodontists prompted his next move. “I saw orthodontics was more relationship focused,” he says. “The orthodontists at the dinner encouraged me to do the further study required to be an orthodontist.”
It was to be a big move. Spiro headed to the US, home to some of the best orthodontic training programs in the world.
“To do the training in the US, I had to sell my practice, my home and my car, and move my family to North Carolina,” he says. “I needed every cent I had to live in the US because I couldn’t work there while I was training. When I told my parents, they thought I had lost my marbles.”
After receiving his Master of Science degree in orthodontics from Saint Louis University, Spiro returned to Adelaide where he found there was not much space for a new orthodontist in town.
“I was going to have to wait until someone retired, or leave town and go work somewhere else,” he says.
Spiro looked around Australia, but it was Canberra that seemed to offer the best opportunities.
“Canberra is a great city,” he says. “I figured out that people can do really well here, but I will never forget the day I told my son we were moving to Canberra. His response was, ‘Where is Canberra?'”
The rest is history.
“We loved Canberra,” says Spiro. “There is no traffic; you can get home from work early. We came, we liked and we stayed.”
With the help of an older, well-established Canberra orthodontist, Spiro began work, eventually buying his own practice in Manuka. He says having a mentor helped enormously. “He was a wonderful man and I am so glad that years later I had an opportunity to return his kindness.”
Spiro has now been providing orthodontic treatment for patients in Canberra and the surrounding region for more than 20 years. Employing 26 staff, Embrace Orthodontists is Canberra’s leading provider of Invisalign, the clear alternative to braces.
Keeping up to date with the latest techniques and technology, Spiro says he and his team try to provide patients with a positive orthodontic experience and a level of service beyond expectations.
“I am still just as passionate about what I do,” he says. “I always want to do the best. The only thing I haven’t got used to [in Canberra] is the cold.”
For more information or to book an appointment, visit Embrace Orthodontists.