A Legacy of Exceptional Care

Before there was Reichheld Ting, there was a man, a dream, and a set of braces. Here’s how Dr. John’s 50-year legacy shaped orthodontics in Acton, Billerica, Lowell, and Westford.

Dr. John Reichheld, Sr.

Background & Education

Dr. John was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He graduated high school in Newton and then attended Boston College as a first-generation college student.

After he graduated, his father told him not to continue his education. Ignoring that advice, he earned his doctorate of dental medicine at Tufts University and his orthodontics degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Soon after that, he and his wife, Patricia — who he met while working summer jobs at a restaurant in Falmouth — already had five children. Though he raised his family in Lexington, he also left his mark in Lowell with his philanthropy.

A New Orthodontic Practice

RTO’s humble beginnings in the 1960s required hard work and persistence. With very few patients on his roster in those early days, Dr. John didn’t want prospective patients to think he wasn’t getting the numbers, so he had to improvise.

He listed names like Roger Maris, Y.A. Tittle, and Bobby Doerr on his patient roster. As any old-time sports fan would know, a New York Yankees legend, a quarterback in the pre-Super Bowl days, and a Boston Red Sox great would not have been Dr. John’s orthodontic patients at that time. Including their names, however, helped bulk up his patient roster enough for actual patients to begin scheduling appointments.

Reichheld would make his mark over the next four decades on the thousands of people he gave braces, retainers, and other necessary care. He also dedicated himself to charitable efforts in the area, and he was named a “community hero” by Lowell’s Community Teamwork, Inc for his work.

Philanthropy

Dr. John loved Lowell. He hired dozens of buses to bring dozens of Lowell-area residents to Boston for charitable walks each October. He was passionate about cancer awareness and took it up as a dedicated cause after his wife, Patricia, died of melanoma in 1982.

He also donated his boat named Crossbite (a dental term) for the annual John Havlicek Celebrity Fishing Tournament and helped raise money for the Genesis Fund. “It was just a great feel-good thing,” said Margo Sargent, who worked for Dr. John for 15 years until his retirement in 2002.

Sargent said Dr. John was “definitely ahead of his time” as an orthodontist who went with a less-structured, colorful environment before it was common. He held patient-appreciation days, even letting patients playfully get back at him by throwing a pie in his face.

He also accepted patients on Medicare or Medicaid when many others wouldn’t because of lower reimbursement. “It was just his nature,” she said.