Continuing a family legacy in local dental care | Hawaii Jobs

Continuing a family legacy in local dental care

(From left) Drs. Jared and Lester Kanemaru, Dr. Jill Kanemaru-Hwang and Dr. Gordon Kanemaru of Kanemaru Dental Group carry the torch of the business’s founder, Dr. Masao Kanemaru, with tech-forward dental services and sparkling customer service.

By Don Robbins

It truly is a family affair at Kane-maru Dental Group, with four dental professionals carrying out the Kanemaru name and taking great care of kamaaina’s teeth.

The late Dr. Masao Kanemaru, a dental surgeon, opened his dental practice in Wahiawa in 1939 with one dental assistant and two dental chairs. Fast forward to 2017, and now his three sons and one granddaughter are continuing his legacy.

Kanemaru Dental Group provides dental services with three dental hygienists, five dental assistants and six administrative assistants. The company’s goal is to provide comprehensive dental health care with aloha.

The family of dentists accomplishes this by not only serving local ohanas, including active-duty military service personnel and their dependents, but also visitors to the Islands in need of emergency dental health care.

“We provide dental health care for the entire family from ages 1 to 100,” said Dr. Jared Kanemaru, a dental surgeon at Kanemaru Dental Group, as well as one of the owners of the family business. The other CEOs include Jared’s brothers, Dr. Lester Kanemaru and Dr. Gordon Kanemaru, plus Jared’s youngest daughter, Dr. Jill Kanemaru-Hwang. Jared’s second daughter, Kristen Horimoto, has been the dental office’s business administrator for 14 years.

According to Gordon, the family-oriented business seeks employees that would mesh well to the family’s and office’s dynamic. He further explained that the optimal employee for Kanemaru Dental Group is someone who has a great personality and a positive, energetic attitude.

“All employees must communicate well, be able to do multiple tasks at all times and work as a team, helping other staff members provide the best quality care for the individual patient,” Gordon explained. “Our ideal employee must smile at all times, be looking to learn new skills and be a motivated problem-solver.”

Together, the Kanemaru family and their staff provide a wide range of services, including children’s dentistry; Invisalign braces; computer-aided dentistry; same-day, one-appointment cosmetic crowns; dental implants; and digital X-rays. Additionally, some of the more unique services include laser gum therapy, laser detection of cavities, dental bleaching and the safe use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas).

“Local anesthetics are now used (if wanted) to comfort each patient to complete their dental procedures,” shared Jared.

Lester remarked on how much modern dental technology has progressed from what was available in 1939.

“This was the era of stand-up dentistry. (Masao) raised his patients on the dental chair by pumping a pedal up and down with his right foot, and his drill was powered by a rope-like belt,” Lester recalled. “Dr. Masao rarely used a local anesthetic to numb the patient’s tooth before fixing a cavity.”

Back then, Kanemaru Dental Group’s patients came to the office on a first-come, first-served basis. Masao’s office was open seven days a week, as he believed that he should always be of service to his patients who may not be able to take off from work for dental needs.

Now, administrative assistants can confirm appointments via email and texting. Still, the charm of the humble dentist’s office remains thanks to Masao’s legacy and those who were inspired to follow in his footsteps.

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THE 411

COMPANY Kanemaru Dental Group

LOCATION:Kilani Center, 410 Kilani Ave., Ste. 221, Wahiawa

PHONE: 622-4354


CEOS: Drs. Jared, Lester and Gordon Kanemaru and Dr. Jill Kanemaru-Hwang


BENEFITS: Employees receive simple IRA; health insurance, including vision and drug; dental care; vacation pay; sick leave; and paid holidays. Continuing education courses are provided for employees to expand their technical and interpersonal communications skills, and personal growth and development.

NOTEWORTHY: Back in 1939, company founder Dr. Masao Kanemaru was sometimes paid for his dental services with fish or vegetables from some of his patients.