School dental nurse at work

School dental nurse at work

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


Community contributions

14 comments have been posted about School dental nurse at work

What do you know?

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.


Posted: 15 Feb 2021

My husband endured the School Dentist horror stories in the mid 70's and is now has nearly lost all has back teeth. How do we go about getting compensation to now have his teeth restored?


Posted: 16 Jan 2021

I was the only Maori child at my primary school: North Shore school in Auckland in the early 80's. I had really good teeth and my mum always made sure we limited sugar and brushed right. The dental nurses were always drilling my teeth, giving me multiple injections and goodness knows what else. I was in the chair one day and the new dental nurse had her boyfriend come in as well. I was never quite the same. I did tell my mum and I never used the dental services there again. I'm now 45 and have only ever been to the dentist 3 times since leaving primary school. I can't trust it. They had too much access to the kids and no accountability.


Posted: 02 Nov 2020

I was a victim of the school dental system in the late 60s early 80s. Every single one of my back teeth were drilled & filled with black fillings, by the same dental nurse, no xrays were taken, no pain relief given. I lived in South Auckland & I am convinced that these school dental nurses used the children from these areas as training material for them to practice on. I am now in my late 50’s & the trauma that these constant & unnecessary visits to the murder house caused me to fear going anywhere near a dentist to this day. Whilst all my front teeth have survived relatively well, nurse Murphy never touched my front teeth,
my back teeth are a disgusting & shameful mess. I am absolutely keen to bring a class action against the government, they allowed my teeth to be used for practice & now I want them to pay for my teeth they totally destroyed when I was a child. Does anyone know how we would start a class action. There will be hundreds of not thousands of kiwis who are in exactly the same position.


Posted: 15 Nov 2019

Waitangi Tribunal...? I recall being called in to the murder house when i had no complaints of dental issues, 2-3 times a week when there were 20+/- dental nurses at Mangere Intermediate... always drilling, (b4 the use of anaesthetic? &CONSENT FORMS) & being in pain for weeks after until being called in again when the pain (incl inner cheek bites!?)... always me & the other MAORI /PI kids. Now when those consent forms for my children are completed they have an additional clause - Consent to examine only, additional consent for EACH & EVERY treatment before, parent/Mum to be present.
I thought it may have been that my Mum was one of those young Mums, that didn't take much notice of these issues - probably didn't think to ask if i had a toothache needing fixing, didn't even notice...? One of the many child abuses situations that still affects life exponentially every day!
Class action I say, 15 of the past 40 year's income had been dental taxed in the 10s of 1000s... 25 years back home that is exponentially more, through the teeth that i try desperately need to keep but, losing the battle...


Posted: 10 Jul 2019

We came from a home with having no sugars in our diet and good food. Our teeth seemed good , but the dental nurse in silverstream Upper Hutt always drilled our teeth . Our teeth are filled with deep amalgam fillings , now they are all breaking and can’t be saved . Is there no compensation for us whos teeth have been wreaked by dental nurses from that era ?


Posted: 25 Feb 2019

My teeth were drilled out 5 at a time.
As an adult I have spent 35k trying to keep teeth . I've had many extractions. Implants crowns root canals and still missing extracted teeth that were drilled out by dental nurses too deep to be saved