School dental nurse at work

School dental nurse at work

A boy receiving dental care at Te Kaha School, Opotiki. c1944.


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20 comments have been posted about School dental nurse at work

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Posted: 29 Jan 2023

Like everyone else in previous comments below I can attribute all 4 of my very large amalgam/mercury based fillings to just one year during primary school in the early 1970’s. Despite not having a filling for the rest of my life until now, those 1970’s fillings have recently caused sufficient damage to need replacement at huge cost. The fillings were so extensive crowns were required.
Like other contributors here, we ate healthily, were fastidious in our dental hygiene and had fluoride tablets in our water. So the reason for those 1970’s fillings given at the time was preventative. The experience like everyone else’s was painful and created a lifelong fear of dentistry. As a health professional I’m left wondering how a school based service could intentionally damage healthy teeth under the guise of protection without even a consent from a parent required nor a referral to a properly qualified dentist. Like others here I am paying vast amounts in dental care to repair the damage these old fillings have done


Posted: 02 Dec 2022

I too have horrific memories of the visits to the New Zealand school dental nurse. No pain relief was ever given! I actually fainted in the chair, from pain…TWICE! Drilling on my front tooth was the most painful experience. I am now 64 and still carry a huge ‘going to the dentist phobia.’ I have spent thousands over the years on my teeth, due to what I presume were unnecessary fillings when young. Our family were also healthy eaters, and big on cleaning our teeth, and yet all 5 of us have mouths full of amalgam.

k PeoplesAnonymous

Posted: 09 Nov 2022

While attending school dentist while at primary school in Christchurch I had numerous unnecessary filings. As soon as I left primary school, almost no further cavities. I now suffer both the pain and financial burden of multiple crowns to repair the harm caused by the school dentists. I am surprised no one has commenced a class action against this injustice. Perhaps we should.

J . Ohanlon

Posted: 15 Sep 2022

I am also convinced we were used as Guinea pigs to train dentists.
I weren’t to a South Auckland primary school in the 70’s & remember the fear of being summoned to the murder house.
After 40 years I have only had 1 other tooth cause me problems but had 4 back tooth fillings before the age of 10, 2 of which had to be removed. I also suffered from having to endure the pain of drilling without pain relief.
I think we all need to create a class action case & sue for the suffering and damages that we all have endured as children & adults from this barbaric system.
This is not a coincidence.


Posted: 30 Jul 2022

I had the same experience as a child. In the late 60s and 70s when I was a child I had many fillings in my back teeth only despite not eating a lot of sugar and brushing my teeth regularly. No anesthetic was ever used. They would just pick up the drill and start drilling with barely even checking my teeth first. I have lost a back tooth due to it breaking and today I went to the dentist only to be told that another one of my back teeth needs a crown as a piece of my tooth has broken off. There is such a large filling in this tooth that there is not enough tooth now to support the filling and without the crown my tooth I'll probably lose the tooth. I've already lost one of my back teeth. We were definitely used as guinea pigs by these dental nurses from hell.


Posted: 23 Jul 2022

I was a child who had been i say abused by the primary school dental nurse in hawkes bay ...

Getting picked out of class i didnt know was going to happen never been to a dentist before soon i was told to jump up on the chair she grabbed the drill like I was next in line, with no injections by the way.

so scared and crying so much insane pain , she then strapped me into chair screamed at me " that it dosnt bloody hurt dose it ...!!" Then she got so angry she grabbed my arms and shook me .had continued to get massive silver fillings strapped in the chair .....when I had great teeth and wasn't aloud much suger ! After that I've never been the same and my whole being was damaged forever.

John H.

Posted: 30 Apr 2022

Yes i also suffered at the hands of primary school dentists and have a mouthful of mercury amalgram fillings.
The fillings are now starting to break down and I'm either swallowing bits or spitting them out. I'm positive those fillings have affected my health. I still remember the torture of having teeth drilled with no anaesthetic. The nurse used to tell me how strong my teeth were but gave me many fillings. Strange that. Were we just guinnea pigs of the system?


Posted: 27 Apr 2022

Like most everyone else here. My back teeth got hammered with multiple fillings across the 70s and early 80s by dental nurses who used everyone of us as Guinea Pigs. As a result many of my back teeth are gone, the ones that are left all need crowns now. Everyone I know from the same era has had the same experience. Yet back then we didn’t eat the same sugar laden diet, fast food, and meat as the kids do now. My children ate far more junk than me and they all have perfect teeth with no fillings. You can’t tell me that our diet and possible lack of fluoridated water had any think to do with the fillings when our front teeth were perfect and our kids perfect teeth are subject to a way worse diet. It was the irresponsible and unethical dental treatment back in the day. The govt should pay compensation for all the dental procedures we have all had to have in our adult lives to either save or replace our molars. I’ve talked to dentists about the problem back in the 70s and they have no idea as they are either not from this country or too young to know


Posted: 13 Nov 2021

I have a mouth full of mercury & a mortal fear of the dentist due to unnecessary dental work when I was in primary school, I had no complaints or issues beforehand & just did as I was told! I too would like to know how to claim compensation for this mental & physical trauma?

Denny Gaspar

Posted: 30 Mar 2021

I thought it was myself only that suffered at the drill happy hands of the NZ school dental nurses back in the late 1950s. I am amazed to see and read the horrifying experiences of many other unfortunates who frequented the dreaded clinics.
Every day I was called from class to attend the "murder house" and most my second back teeth were filled with those dreadful amalgam fillings.... Finally my mum took me to her dentist in Auckland City and he commented that I appeared to have good teeth and these nurses were known for practicing on children's teeth. (Years later a friend became a dental nurse and confirmed what the dentist had said.) These painful experiences with no pain killers and the smell of burning teeth, as the drill kept grinding away, has made me a life long nervous dental patient, And now in my 70s I have only a few back teeth remaining and yet my front teeth are in good condition. I can still see in my mind the lightly freckled face of that dreaded dental nurse.