Den­tal care leaps ahead in 100 years

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

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.”

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Long ser­vice: Dr Clive Ross and den­tal as­sis­tant Ana Fin­nemore have been work­ing to­gether for 29 years, help­ing pa­tients like Chris­tian Bergmen.

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