Best Dentists in Hawaii
122 Dentists in 7 Specialities—recommended by their peers
When you’re looking for a dentist, a great place to start is with a recommendation. Usually, you’d get one from a friend, family member or co-worker. “Hey, do you know a good dentist?” you’d ask.
We thought we could get you off to a better start by going straight to the dentists themselves for recommendations. We surveyed nearly 800 dentists in the Islands, asking each of them: If a close friend or family member needed a Hawai‘i dentist in these specialties, and you yourself could not treat them, who would you recommend?
Our survey, conducted last fall, had a phenomenal 25 percent return rate. We’re pleased to be able to share the results with you: 122 dentists in general dentistry and seven specialties, including oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, endodontics, orthodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics. (Aren’t familiar with these specialties? We’ve included definitions in the list for each category.)
Of course, we can’t tell you exactly which one of these dentists is best for you. Consider this list a starting point for your own research, especially if you’re searching for a new dentist, or a dentist in a specialty. We’d be the first to tell you that there are many terrific dentists in the Islands. If your dentist didn’t make the list, there’s no reason to switch if you’re happy with the care you’ve been receiving.
Dr. Angela Chin sees oral health as part of overall health.
Originally from Jamaica, general dentist Angela Chin this year celebrates 25 years of giving dental care in ‘Aiea. In that time, dentistry has undergone a sea change. “We now view the mouth as a window to the body,” she says, “and look at how oral health may have links to other diseases,” and vice versa. So when she sees a new patient, Chin goes over his or her medical history in detail.
For example, she finds out which medications the person is taking. Many medicines cause dry mouth as a side effect, raising the risk of tooth decay. Diabetes, for example, can slow healing and cause a greater incidence of gum disease. Patients’ blood pressures are checked every time they come in, because, Chin notes, “They may come to me more regularly than they see their other doctors. I recommend patients come in every three months.” The pathogenic bacteria in the mouth may accumulate to a level that they can cause dental problems as early as 10 to 12 weeks.
“In dentistry, you really want to be ahead of the game.”
Teaching the Teachers
Dr. Clyde Uchida helps parents get involved.
Working with children has always appealed to Dr. Clyde Uchida. “When we got to the pediatric block in dental school, I knew [the field] was for me,” says the Honolulu-based Uchida.
Patients come to Uchida far earlier than you might guess—he sees them when they are 1. “Once a baby starts developing teeth, parents can start swabbing them. I give parents information, go over what causes cavities. Most of us grew up thinking it was sugar, but it’s the bacteria in the mouth.”
Uchida stresses the importance of flossing. “To make it easier,” he suggests, “have the child lie down on the couch or on the floor, and put his head in your lap.
By the time they are age 14 or so, Uchida’s clients are ready for a general dentist. The farewells are a compliment to Uchida, who notes, “Part of my job is developing patients to become confident enough that they can see any dentist.”
A Second Chance
Technology helps Dr. Lyndon Fong save teeth.
“Periodontal disease won’t let you know it’s there,” says periodontist Lyndon Fong, who practices in Honolulu. Unchecked, this infection of the tissues of the gums leads to gum and bone loss, and, without that solid foundation for your teeth, you lose them.
To treat periodontal disease, Fong uses deep cleanings, antibiotics and surgical cleanings. “We have technology to regrow bone that has been lost, with growth proteins, and can use our bodies’ own immune systems to help [the area] heal.” Fong can also use bone substitutes, either from the patients themselves, or human or animal donors, or synthetic biomaterials. “Periodontists have used all of these with great success,” he says. “It’s not massive surgery, we do this on a daily basis.”
If teeth can’t be saved, Fong replaces them with dental implants. “Implants are much more predictable than they used to be, due to new surface technologies. They can better simulate a natural tooth.”
Periodontics, Fong notes, is one of the most researched dental specialties. “It’s a trickle-down effect of the technology coming out of the medical world. The dental community has embraced that technology.”
Dr. Malia Kamisugi sees transformations.
Growing up, Malia Kamisugi was inspired by seeing her father, Arthur, interacting with patients. “People would come up to him on the street and say how he had changed their lives.” Today, the two orthodontists share a beach-themed office on Young Street, and both were named to our Best Dentists list. Dr. Malia Kamisugi also practices in Kailua.
When you hear the word “orthodontist,” you probably picture a headgear-wearing preteen, but Kamisugi’s patients have ranged in age from 3 to 84. One reason she’s seeing more adults: the invention of Invisalign, clear aligners that gradually reposition teeth.
Beyond appearance, Kamisugi also wants to ensure that her patients’ jaws and teeth fit together for correct function and speech. “It’s easier to keep straight teeth cleaner—and that’s good for your whole system.”
“The adult patients are so rewarding,” she says. “I just took braces off a woman who hadn’t really smiled much before, and gradually, you could see she started feeling better about herself.” Kamisugi often witnesses this kind of transformation. “The confidence goes into every aspect of their lives. They start fixing their hair, changing their clothes, getting promotions they had been passed over for before. That is so rewarding.”