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Mr Smith

It’s not clear when or why his middle and last names were hyphenated to give him a new last name; his father had the same name, but was identified as “Smith, John Mott, Rev Prof” in the Wesleyan University Alumni Record (1881-3) (where he was listed as former faculty.)

Never-the-less, Hawai‘i’s first royal dentist and last royal ambassador was commonly known as John Mott-Smith. He came to the Islands in 1851; he was Hawai‘i’s first dentist to settle permanently in the Islands. After a protracted illness, John Mott-Smith died on August 10, 1895.

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Teeth

Dental care in pre-contact was simple; for cleaning, Hawaiians rubbed wood ash or charcoal on and between the teeth and then rinsed their mouths. Toothache and periodontal disease were treated with the root of the pua kala (poppy,) bitten into and held between the teeth. Teeth were extracted by pulling them out with an olona cord.

Western dentistry apparently started in the Islands with the coming of the missionaries (Hiram Bingham extracted his wife’s (Sybil) ‘badly decayed tooth.’) Hawai‘i’s first professional dentist of record was Dr MB Steven (1847;) shortly thereafter Hawai‘i’s first permanent dentist John Mott Smith.

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For the Sake of Public Health

Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives presents it’s highly popular Cemetery Pupu Theatre series with a new set of historical characters. These programs are waaay cool. Actors are dressed in period costume, telling the life events of select individuals buried at O‘ahu Cemetery, at their respective grave sites. Each ‘stage’ is at the respective […]

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