A Tribute: Dr. Keki Minocher Mistry

On 8th September, 2023, the world of Orthodontics bid a sorrowful farewell to Dr. Keki Minocher Mistry – a towering luminary and visionary, the greatly revered Founding Father of the Indian Orthodontic Society, who left an indelible footprint on the landscape of dentistry in India and beyond.

Born on 25th December, 1935 in Mumbai, Dr. Mistry took immense pride in living his life as Indian Zoroastrian Parsi. He learnt and lived up to the ideals of hard work and education, from his industrious father – Minocher, and imbibed the love of divinity from his mother, Silla Mistry. His graduated in Dental Surgery in 1957, topping his class, exhibiting early signs of the brilliance that would come to define his illustrious career. He went on to achieve a Master’s degree in Orthodontics (University of Illinois, USA); another Master’s – MSc.D from University of London; a DDPH in Public Health (Royal College of Surgeons, UK) and Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the International Open University at Copenhagen, Denmark.

He was the first elected President and the key founding figure in the establishment of the Indian Orthodontic Society (1965), which currently stands as the second largest specialised health society in the world, with over 7000 members. One of the most prestigious and coveted awards in dentistry is IOS’s ‘Professor Keki Mistry Scroll of Honour for outstanding contributions in the field of Orthodontics’.

Dr. Keki Mistry was a pioneer in Orthodontics, a trailblazer, constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation and embracing new technologies that benefited patients worldwide. Even at the age of 85, his legendary farsightedness grasped the immense potential of Digital Dentistry and the promising future it represented, and his ‘Mistry Centre for Advanced Dentistry’ became one of the Indian pioneers to adopt this cutting-edge technology.

As a Consultant Orthodontist, Dr. Mistry held esteemed positions at several distinguished institutions including the Parsee General Hospital, the Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, the Railway Head Quarters Hospital, and the Bhabha Atomic Energy Commission in Mumbai. He also served as the President of the Indian Dental Association and the Asia Pacific Dental Federation, among many other prestigious positions.

A much-cherished mentor, widely acknowledged clinician, Dr. Mistry was the recipient of several eminent national and international awards, including the prestigious Dr B. C. Roy Gold Medal and National Award for his unparalleled contributions to medical social work bestowed upon him by the PM of India; the Bharat Udyog Award; the National Hind Gaurav Award and the Mother India Award for his unwavering commitment to the well-being of children. Internationally, he was the five-time recipient of the Asian Pacific Dental Federation Merit Award, the International Distinguished Medical Professionals Award (Cambridge, UK); honoured with the Doctorate of Literature due to his extensive work on dental literature and research. He also served as expert advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) in oral health.

In keeping with his comprehensive body of work and diligent endeavours, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award from various prestigious organisations including Indian Orthodontic Society; the Indian Dental Association; the International Dental Students Association; and the World Federation of Orthodontics – the only Indian to be thus honoured!

His passion for teaching and mentorship led him to hold the positions of Professor and Head of Department of Orthodontics (Mumbai’s Govt. Dental College and Hospital) and later – as Director and Dean of DY Patil University. He also authored six books, guided independent graduate research and was the national and international editor of many professional journals.

Dr. Mistry lived his life in absolute resonance with the Zoroastrian fundamentals of ‘Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds’ and served the community with as much zeal, in leadership positions with Rotary International and as Trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust Maharashtra, where he catered to the medical, educational and service activities.

His 80th birthday marked the unveiling of his biography, titled ‘Our Gentle Giant’, with a foreword penned by Shri Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group, which chronicles his exceptional journey and highlights his extraordinary professional contributions and his noteworthy endeavours in social service.

Dr. Mistry deeply believed in the potency of resilience and unwavering self-confidence, frequently citing the aphorism, “When the mind is clear and the heart is pure, then there is no fear. March on!”

He is survived by his loving wife – Nargish Mistry, and his devoted children – Dr. Rushitum – Orthodontist and Implantologist; Dr. Saiesha – Aesthetic and Restorative Dentist and Kainaz Mistry – Clinic Coordinator at the Mistry Centre for Advanced Dentistry – who will take forward his incredible legacy, alongside thousands of others whose lives he touched.

May his noble soul attain Garothman Behest!

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