Dental care leaps ahead in 100 years
Dentistry has moved ahead in leaps and bounds since Clive Ross joined the industry.
The clinical director of Auckland’s regional health unit can still remember a time when having all your teeth removed and replaced by dentures in your 20s was common practice.
“Young girls would have all their teeth out at 21 and get dentures as a wedding present so their husband didn’t have to pay it.”
That was in the 1950s and 60s, before dentistry advanced.
After more than 30 years in the profession, Dr Ross, now based at the Greenlane Clinical Centre, has seen major changes.
He was able to reflect on the history while celebrating 100 years of hospital dentistry in Auckland.
The anniversary coincided with World Dental Day last Thursday and was celebrated earlier in the week with a lunch and cake.
Dental assistant Ana Finnemore was honoured at the event for her 29 years of service.
“It was a complete surprise,” she says.
Her patients and colleagues make her job fun and she loves the variety, she says.
“It’s very interesting. You see a lot of cases here.”
Dr Ross studied dentistry in New Zealand and moved to the UK to do his postgraduate studies and to work for five years.
Since returning, he has worked in both private practices and hospitals.
During his career he has risen through the ranks of dentistry and was president of the World Dental Federation for three years in the 1990s.
Dr Ross was drawn to dentistry with an interest in health sciences and working with people.
“When I first started out, it was the early days of prevention,” he says.
There was a move away from amalgam fillings and fluoride was beginning to improve teeth.
More sophisticated treatments and materials were becoming available.
“Front teeth that used to be filled with gold or amalgam were now done with white fillings.”
The hospital’s oral health unit started out as an emergency service and has expanded to deal with children referred from school dental clinics and those with special needs.
There is an orthodontic section which deals with cleft lip and palate patients and a trauma service for those in accidents or who need treatment at the weekend.
The dental laboratory even makes artificial eyes as well as teeth for patients, says Dr Ross.
Despite all the improvements to dental technology, health and practice, his best tip for healthy teeth has remained the same for three decades.
“Brush your teeth, use dental floss and see a dentist regularly.”
Long service: Dr Clive Ross and dental assistant Ana Finnemore have been working together for 29 years, helping patients like Christian Bergmen.