In 1921, when the School Dental Service was established, New Zealand embarked on a unique social experiment: improving the terrible state of the nation’s teeth. Set up by veterans of the First World War, the service — focused on ‘battling Bertie Germ’ — was run like a military operation and the all-female dental nurses were treated like foot-soldiers: underpaid, overworked and poorly resourced. Eventually they rebelled.
In this lively history, Noel O’Hare details the nurses’ experiences on the front line of dental health, and explores what that reveals about our society’s attitudes to women, work and children’s health.
Reading Age: 15 years to adult
Published by Massey University Press New Zealand