Voted one of Honolulu’s best dentists, Dr. Jon Yoshimura is constantly polishing his advanced restorative skills.
“I was sitting at the dinner table with my mom and my stepdad. My stepdad said, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’” recalls Dr. Jon Yoshimura. “He said you should do something that people will always need.”
Like most third-graders, Yoshimura was dumbstruck. “I said, ‘OK, like what?’ He said like a dentist.”
That was it. His stepdad, a law enforcement officer and investigator who guided Yoshimura and his younger brother through childhood, was a steady, nurturing figure. And Mits Takayama had helped found the Police Athletic League sports program for youth—he saw kids for who they were.
In Yoshimura’s case, he saw a boy who liked art, was good with his hands and interested in medicine. Yoshimura kept that advice in the back of his mind. He went on to Roosevelt High School in the hills above Honolulu, worked weekends building hothouses and growing plants at his stepdad’s budding orchid farm in Waianae, and when he graduated, flew off to the mainland to become a dentist.
Not forgetting his interest in medicine, Yoshimura furthered his education after his degree from the University of Iowa Dental School with a general practice residency in a Minneapolis hospital. He got used to emergencies: working fast, patching broken teeth, extracting lost causes.
By the time he’d put in more years at Minneapolis’ largest dental practice and come home to start his own clinic, he was confident enough to hit the streets of Waikiki cold—with nothing to show but his newly printed business cards.
“I went to every hotel. I asked if they had a dentist on call for if any of their guests had an emergency,” Yoshimura says. “At the time the office was just my mom at the front desk, and me in the back with one chair.”
Hotels started calling. Gradually hotel workers began making appointments; 14 years later, they remain some of his most loyal patients.
The practice grew. It was pure insurance dentistry coupled with emergency treatment. Yoshimura was completely in his element, easing people out of their pain. But the cyclical nature of patients’ cases was becoming more apparent to the young dentist, and began to wear on him.
“I was tired of seeing people in pain, doing patchwork, and seeing patients not really getting better long term. It was a continuous cycle,” he says. “My passion started to grow more toward quality care. I wanted to find answers to questions I had about jaw joints and muscles and different restorative techniques.”
Yoshimura supplemented his education with courses on the mainland in complete dentistry—everything from anatomy to function in restorative, implant and cosmetic techniques. He decided that advanced restorative dentistry was better than the basic, traditional route he had been following because its solutions were more predictable, which meant better health and lower long-term costs for patients.
At home, he saw that patients who took him up on his new recommendations were coming back with fewer to no problems overall. When his office lease was up, he committed to his new path and moved into a suite nearly double the size of his old one, upstairs on the 15th floor of the Ala Moana Building in Honolulu.
True to form, he took another course in office design. His goal was a state-of-the-art, low-stress environment: diffuse walls and curves to absorb sound, a specially designed ventilation system to minimize discomforting medicinal smells and fill the air with comforting scents, ergonomics, and efficient traffic flow. Inspired by the design of a room at the Ihilani Resort & Spa, he even installed shutters on his windows for a more soothing, spa-like feel.
Today, the totality of Yoshimura’s attention to patient care is reflected in the local profession’s top award: Honolulu magazine named him one of the city’s Best Dentists, as voted by his peers.
For Yoshimura, the story doesn’t end there. “I absolutely love what I do. It’s a passion,” he says. “Tomorrow I’ll know more, but I’ll do what’s best for my patients with what I know today.”