Tooth and Veil

The life and times of the New Zealand dental nurse

Noel O’Hare

book cover for Tooth and Veil
Title Info Sheet Sample Pages

Soft cover


The story of the young women charged with waging war on our nation’s poor teeth

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.

To look inside, click here.

‘I thought Tooth and Veil a good read. Letting some of the dental nurses tell their stories in their own words and the many black and white photographs of dental nurses at work brought the part New Zealand dental nurses played in the battle for women’s rights alive for me. Any residual hard feelings you may still be harbouring about the pain that was inflicted on you in the ‘Murder House’ will more than likely be dissipated as you read about the Dental Nurses’ side of the story.’ — Lyn Potter, Grown Ups

That a dental history should rely so heavily on oral history is just one of the delights of Tooth and Veil. The other is that those much-maligned heroines of dental health have at last had a chance to tell their side of the story.’ — Jim Sullivan, Otago Daily Times

  • CATEGORY: History, Contemporary issues
  • ISBN: 9780995122963
  • PUBLISHER: Massey University Press
  • IMPRINT: Massey University Press
  • PUBLISHED: 21/05/2020
  • PAGE EXTENT: 256
  • FORMAT: Soft cover
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Noel O’Hare is a freelance journalist, columnist, blogger and author.