News articles about dentists In New Mexico seem to pop up every day – not about what happens in their practices, but rather what they do when they’re off duty. One Albuquerque dentist and University of New Mexico assistant professor of dental hygiene recently took her students and volunteers to Nicaragua to provide free dental care to people in one of the poorest countries in the world. Another Albuquerque dentist is organizing a free dental clinic this coming October in the Duke City that will offer basic treatment on a first-come, first-served basis.
Both of these mercy missions are founded on the belief that fixing dental problems benefits overall health and that poor oral health leads to premature or underweight babies, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, we have already examined a former Albuquerque black dentist’s strong link to the story of Jackie Robinson in a review of 42.
But those good deeds are only the tip of the iceberg about dentists in New Mexico – the good above the bad and ugly news accounts. Click VIEW ALL 6 PHOTOS above to see a list of the unusual and sometimes quirky (having an individual peculiarity of character) news about New Mexican dentists.
There are three unusual dentists who made big names for themselves years ago in New Mexico. The most famous dentist to live in New Mexico has to be a man who in the late 1800’s.actually was an ex-dentist, as well as a gambler, saloon-owner, gunfighter, deputy sheriff, and sometimes cold killer — John Henry “Doc” Holliday, whose well-documented activities in New Mexico include:
- Owning a saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
- In front of that saloon, killing a man who tried to persuade one of his saloon girls to leave town with him.
- After the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral in1882, Dr. Holliday and Wyatt Earp rode from Tombstone, Arizona, to Silver City, New Mexico, where they sold their horses, rode a stage to Deming, and boarded a train for Colorado.
- Wyatt Earp once said, “There was something very peculiar about Doc. He was gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man, and yet outside of us boys I don’t think he had a friend in the Territory.”
Dr. John Newbrough
In the same decade as Doc Holliday’s New Mexican days, a dentist named Dr. John Newbrough, who was also a gold-miner, a spiritualist, a writer, one of the first people ever to use a typewriter, a self-proclaimed messenger of God, and possibly the very first American with a “Type A” personality, appeared in the Land of Enchantment.
Dr. Newbrough brought a contingent of his followers to the Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico, which he called “Land of Shalam,” where he:
- Established a new religious cult, Faithism;
- Founded a commune whose members would live peaceful, vegetarian lifestyles; and
- He put his dental implements aside to write “a new Bible,” called Oahspe: A New Bible in the Words of Jehovih [sic] and his Angel Ambassadors that Dr. Newbrough intended to provide “inside information” about the history of the planet and the human race, the fate of man, how to live well, and the purpose of life.
According to his typed notes, this is how Dr. Newbrough received his call to establish faithism:
“I had quite an experience about 4 a.m. this morning. I was sleeping nicely when I felt a hand on my shoulder.” A voice said, ‘Wake up doctor. Everything is all right. I only want to ask you a question and we will go.’
“I sat up and answered, ‘Yes, if I can’. The voice said, ‘Would you like to perform a mission for Jehovih? Jehovih would like you to live spiritually for ten years.”
“What do you mean by living spiritually?”
“‘We want you never to kill anything, or eat anything that breathes; meat, fish, birds, reptiles, et cetera. Live on nuts, fruit, vegetables. You don’t need so much food, as you are too heavy now; you need to lose weight. One other thing is very important: you must help people; give your services to people who need dental help, without pay, if they cannot pay. Do charity work; by individual charity you change the person’s thoughts. They will think of you as a good man, and will send out good thoughts to you. You will need all the good will you can get.” Click here to read more.
Quakers, American Natives “American Natives, “ancient Jews,” Masons, Confucians and Zoroastrians and members of various Eastern religions are considered by Faithists who live in several countries today to be Faithists at heart. Click here to read more.
Dr. George Blue Spuce
The third New Mexico dentist under examination is very unusual because he also was a rarity: Dr. George Blue Spruce Jr. from San Juan and Laguna pueblos near Santa Fe and a graduate of Santa Fe Indian School, became the first and only American Indian dentist in the country — and he stayed the only one for the next 19 years. Only 105 dentists among the more than 150,000 practicing in the United States is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe. In addition, Dr. Blue Spruce was the first American Indian dentist to become a US Assistant Surgeon General.
More recently, an unlicensed dentist, known by his Santa Fe clients as “El Dentista,” was imprisoned on charges including practicing without a license, distribution of a controlled substance, attempt to commit a felony, conspiracy and a warrant in a traffic case. He would make home calls to clients in his car carrying a dirty tool and tackle box containing drill bits, syringes, false teeth and illegal drugs.
Stories about dentists in the Land of Enchantment abound. Have you heard the one about:
- The dentist who pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and money laundering charges, hosted “charity polo matches” in New Mexico, and then retired from dentistry? Click here to read about it.
- The Albuquerque dentist who collected and bought more than a half ton of candy for soldiers in Iraq? Click here to read about it.
- The female Gallup pediatric dentist who was arrested twice in four days on drug-related charges? Click here to read about it.
- The Clovis dentist who pleaded guilty to the 2005 murder and sex- ual assault of a 30-year-old waitress? Click here to read about it.
- The Tijeras dentist at whose home police found a dead horse, six dead chickens, and a dead peacock? Click here to read about it.
And, finally, on a more positive note, have you heard about the 91-year-old Carlsbad dentist who, after retiring after 65 years of practice in that town, said, “I’ve seen every mouth in Carlsbad — once or twice;” who when asked how he felt, said, “I’m not tired yet;” who when asked if he ever wanted to practice dentistry somewhere other than Carlsbad, said, “No. It’s where I grew up, met his wife, raised my children and practiced alongside my younger brother for 58 years.” Click here to read about it.
Every New Mexico dentist has his her own story. Talk about quirky!