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The New Zealand Dental Services

Training of Dental Mechanics

Training of Dental Mechanics

While recognising the excellent reputation of most of the mechanics employed in the Corps, it cannot be denied that there were some disappointments. There was no qualifying examination in civilian life to guarantee a standard of efficiency and nothing to prevent the half-trained man from claiming the status of expert. As an example, the large advertising dental firms made so many artificial dentures that some of them adopted the chain system in their laboratories, i.e., a man would be trained in one process of the work and might be retained in only that process for some time. This man could claim in all good faith that he had had years of experience in a dental laboratory, whereas in fact he was not capable of constructing an artificial denture in all its phases. Without further training he was useless to the NZDC.

A large number of mechanics were required in the Corps, not only for the large amount of work to be done in New Zealand but to accompany the troops overseas. First-class mechanics were difficult to get and, before the National Service Department took action to prevent it, several were lost to the Corps by having volunteered for service in combatant units. The result was that the Corps in the early part of the war was always short of mechanics. It therefore decided to augment the supply by training some of its own. A few men who were mechanically minded and keen to be trained were selected and classified as dental mechanic's orderlies to work in the prosthetic laboratories of the mobilisation camp dental hospitals.