In honor of Throwback Thursday, we thought it would be appropriate to share some brief history about Hawaii’s first permanent dentist – Dr. John Mott-Smith.
Mott-Smith studied dentistry in New York by reading the textbooks of a friend attending dental college and later passed that state’s dental exams. After practicing in New York and California, he arrived in Hawaii in 1851.
During most of this time, Dr. Mott-Smith was the only practicing dentist in Honolulu. In 1866 he turned his practice over to John Morgan Whitney, a graduate of a Pennsylvania dental school.
In commenting on Dr. Mott-Smith’s work, Dr. Whitney said that,
“…his soft gold fillings were above the average of his day, and his mechanical work was excellent. But the best thing he did for his people was strongly impressing them with the value of their teeth, and the necessity of frequent and continued watching and caring for them.”
Dr. Mott-Smith then became the editor of a local newspaper which supported the Hawaiian monarchy. This led to a distinguished career under various monarchs—serving as a royal adviser, minister of finance, and president of the board of education, among other positions.
He married Ellen Dominis Paty and they had seven children. Their second son, Ernest, after whom Mott-Smith Drive was named, became a lawyer and served as minister of foreign affairs and minister of finance under the Republic of Hawaii.
Dr. Mott-Smith passed away in 1895 and is buried at Oahu Cemetery in Nu‘uanu.
Mahalo, Dr. John Mott Smith for advancing dentistry in Hawaii!