David Morris Kern; creator of Orajel; at 103

Mr. Kern’s medicine aimed at fighting toothaches and later mouth sores.
Courtesy of Kern Family
Mr. Kern’s medicine aimed at fighting toothaches and later mouth sores.

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — David Morris Kern, the creator of Orajel, a medicine aimed at fighting toothaches and later mouth sores, has died, family members said Sunday. He was 103. Allan Kern, his son, said his father died peacefully Friday at a group home in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Born in 1909 in Manhattan and raised in Brooklyn, Mr. Kern graduated from Brooklyn College of Pharmacy and worked as a pharmacist before becoming a salesman for Norwich and Warner Pharmaceuticals. After buying a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility with his brother and two partners, he created Orajel with the help of a chemistry professor. Mr. Kern would later tell family members that he developed Orajel because he sought to find relief for teething babies.

‘‘It was the number one product for toothaches for years,’’ Allan Kern said. ‘‘He was really proud of it.’’


Mr. Kern sold the company to Del Laboratories in 1961, and moved to the Phoenix area in 1990s with his wife, Rose Ziedenweber Kern. They were married for 65 years until her death in 2001. Mr. Kern retired from his pharmaceutical career as the age of 62 and later turned to managing family finances, Allan Kern said. Daughter-in-law Carol Kern said in retirement Mr. Kern bragged that he had great genes, which allowed him to live past 100 years.

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‘‘I said during a toast on his 100th birthday that he’d say his secret to a long life was having a martini every day and not eating green vegetables,’’ she said.

‘‘If you are optimistic, and feel young, you will always look and remain young,’’ Mr. Kern told The Arizona Republic in a 2009 interview. ‘‘Take advantage of every day.’’