Dentistry in Queensland: a timeline
In the new British colony, distance and necessity allow anyone to practise basic dentistry.
At the turn of the twentieth century, dentistry emerges a health profession: legislation is passed, dental societies are formed.
In the new Millennium, a modernised ADAQ ensures excellence in the dental profession remains high, to the benefit of all Queenslanders.
British settlers bring western dentistry to Ningy Ningy & Turrbal lands
Thomas Brisbane establishes the first northern penal colony at Redcliffe, soon moved inland to a better site at North Quay. It would house the most hardened prisoners to land in Australia, in terribly swampy conditions. The Colonial Medical Service provides only basic dental services: extractions.
Image: Clarson, W. A. (1888). Brisbane. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135771490
QLD's first dentist?
Joseph Hyams, a ‘corn cutter and dentist’, is recorded as serving a sentence in Moreton Bay in the 1820s. This probably makes him the first ‘tooth-puller’ to haunt Queensland’s shores.
He is the first to advertise dental services in Australia as early as 1814: “Scaling, cleaning and drawing the tooth, when necessary, without causing pain and supplying the vacancy with others of pure Ivory - also corns extracted with ease and safety.”
However, Hyams was not trained as a ‘surgeon dentist’, and the newly established Medical Board warned the public about dealing with him by writing a notice on the newspaper (Sydney Gazette, 29 July 1820).
See the advertisements in the National Library of Australia's TROVE.
Separation from NSW
Queensland evolves as the most decentralised colony in Australia. Surgeons travel around by ‘horse and buggy’ with their heavy equipment cases.
Chemists often double as providers of dental services, selling their herbal toothache remedies and procuring sets of false teeth from the Old Country (Britain) or other colonies.
Early Dental Practices
According to a history of dentistry in Queensland written by Edmund F Hughes (one of the founding fathers of the Odontological Society and later ADAQ), a Mr Henry Jordan is the first ‘trained’ dentist to practise in Queensland (1856). Jordan (1818-1890) was a friend of Queen Victoria’s dentist, Sir Edwin Saunders, and had published an important book on dentistry: Practical Observations of the Teeth (London 1851). He did not practise in Queensland very long, but became a politician.
WF Wilson, David R Eden and Moses Ward’s family followed in the 1860s. These dentists are the 'giants' of Qld dentistry and trained many subsequent leaders of the profession. Hughes was indentured to Eden in 1876.
Gaydon's Building in Childers (Bundaberg Region) houses the oldest continuously operating dental practice in Australia - it was first established in 1894 and is still open!
First association of QLD Dentists
The Queensland Dental Association (QDA) is established as a lobby group for the purpose of securing legal recognition for dentists in our state.
The QDA will fold once its main objective, the passing of a dental act, is achieved a decade later.
First Qld woman in private practice
Myra Rendle-McKenzie is reportedly the first woman from Queensland to complete an apprenticeship in dentistry and to establish a practice (North Qld area).
After Federation (1901), dental boards, professional associations and formal education guidelines are established.
Qld is the last state to pass a Dental Act. It features a poor definition of dentistry and generous ‘grandfathering’ clauses that attract criticism.
Odontological Society of Queensland
Established to raise the dignity of our profession, under David Eden’s leadership, the Society (OSQ), is the direct precursor of the modern ADAQ.
Image: humorous drawings for the 1907 OSQ Annual dinner menu.
Brisbane Dental Hospital
The OSQ establishes the Brisbane Dental Hospital (BDH) in Harper’s Building, Elizabeth St, to relieve of pain those who could not afford private treatment.
In 1916, the Hospital relocates to Westbourne in George St (photo) and is run by the Home Secretary’s Office.
The BDH will become a dental school, where apprentices complete their two-year practical training towards registration.
Dental Inspector for Schools
The Department of Public Instruction appoints the first Dental Inspector for Schools, EW Haenke.
At the Third Australian Dental Congress, Haenke details the poor condition of children’s oral health, and suggests a link between groundwater consumption and low decay rates.
World War I
Many dentists enlist, most serving in the infantry. OSQ members help at the Enoggera Camp Dental Hospital to ensure soldiers are ‘dentally fit’.
Photo: dental hut at Kangaroo Point, 6 Australian General Hospital, 1917. Australian War Memorial.
From society to association
With the inauguration of the Australian Dental Association (ADA), the OSQ becomes the Queensland Branch of the new association: the ADAQ.
End of indentureship
The apprenticeship system for dental student is abolished as per Dental Board bylaws.
Dental Road Van service launch
The Department of Public Instruction creates an itinerant dental service for remote Queenslanders.
Travelling dentists hit the dusty outback roads: treatment for children is free but adults pay a fee.
Dental Rail Clinic
Premier William McCormack unveils the first Dental Rail Car. Rail travel removes many barriers to reaching remote areas even in wet seasons.
By 1950, four rail clinics service railway lines traversing Queensland. The rail dental service would cease operations in the 1980s.
Faculty of Dentistry (UQ) opens
A four-year degree course at the University of Queensland, the only tertiary institution in Qld at the time, formally replaces the former course of study, a mix of training held at the Brisbane Dental Hospital and lessons at NSW University.
First reports on fluorine mottling
Fred Clements, working for the Federal Advisory Council on Nutrition, reports fluorine mottling at Julia Creek, Quilpie and Thargomindah.
World War II
The ADAQ sets up the Voluntary Army Dental Service.
Meanwhile, FG Christensen, the first Queenslander to register as an oral surgeon, works with the RAAF on penicillin studies and investigates middle ear and jaw-joint conditions in pilots.
New Dental Hospital: The Palace
Perched high on a hill and featuring a grandiose sweep of stairs, the monumental neo-Georgian masonry building in 168 Turbot Street is unveiled.
The building houses both the Dental Hospital and the UQ Dental College, and incorporates the latest technological advances in health care and tertiary education (clinical training in hospitals).
Its beauty, grandeur and style match the neighbouring Brisbane City Hall in style and earned it a nickname: ‘The Palace’.
Curious fact: the Palace would be the first public building in Queensland to install air-conditioning.
The Palace closes its doors in 2019 when the delivery of public dental services is transferred to the new UQ Oral Health Centre open in Herston.
Flying Dental Services
John Homewood, former RAAF officer, establishes a small private flying dentist service for very isolated areas in Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory. His old Gipsy Moth aircraft carried a mobile dental unit.
Homewood is probably the first (unofficial) Flying Dentist in Australia.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia organises a reliable Flying Dental Service in 1947 at Charleville. G Castles is the first dentist on FDS flights.
Dental equipment was very cumbersome for early aircrafts. This partly explains the 20-year lapse between the inauguration of a flying medical service and the dental equivalent. Before the 1940s, bush nurses often performed ‘dental duties’.
ADAQ Campaign to reduce sugar consumption
Dentists encounter ostracism from the heavily protected and powerful sugar industry.
Queensland is the main sugar-producing state in Australia. In the 1950s, many Queenslanders’ livelihoods depended upon the sugar industry.
Those practicing in the ‘cane belt’ districts especially struggle to pass on a very unpopular message to their patients against industry-sponsored advertisements.
Public Fluoride Advocacy
Engineer MA Artie Simmonds is the first public fluoride advocate in Queensland. The Queensland Dental Journal publishes his paper on Medication of Water Supplies, which addresses concerns about high fluoride in potable water.
Community groups influenced by the Social Credit theories start anti-fluoridation propaganda during campaigns to introduce fluoridation in Bundaberg.
Fluoridation of public water supplies Act
Local authorities are given discretionary powers to fluoridate autonomously or initiate a referendum.
Water fluoridation is implemented in Biloela, Gatton, Mareeba, Proserpine and Townsville.
Formal Training for Dental Assistants
ADAQ appoints M Dingle, J Croker and J Mahoney to help establish the first dental assistant training course in Qld.
It attracts 37 Brisbane-based students; 18 more join from the regions by correspondence. Image: State Library Qld.
Opening of ADAQ Headquarters: Christensen House
The new ADAQ headquarters opens at 24 Little Edward St, Brisbane. This is the first permanent residence for the association, and symbolises the growing status of the dental profession.
It is dedicated to the memory of eminent Qld dentist G. Christensen, whose generous bequest to the Branch enabled the building construction.
Dental Lab Technicians Registration
After registration was introduced in other states, ADAQ opposes a proposal to allow dental technicians and prosthetists or ‘denturists’ to be registered and trade directly to the public.
“Fitting dentures is not simply a case of retreading a tyre... A qualified electrician not a handyman undertakes electrical work. Dental health can not be compared with non-medical services...” (ADAQ President’s letter to the State Management Committee).
The Dental Technicians and Dental Prosthetists Act passes in 1991. However, Section 34 restricts dental technicians and prosthetists to work without a written prescription from a dentist or medical practitioner.
HIV/AIDS & Hepatitis change infection control
The emergence of HIV and an increase in Hepatitis B/C infections changes many ADAQ policies and protocols, with stricter infection control procedures necessary: introduction of personal protective equipment by all dental team, disposable single-use sharps and needles, sterilisation by autoclave, and anti-retraction valves in water lines to dental units.
Before the 1980s, most dentists treated patients with washed, but bare hands.
Fluoridation debates (again)
The Brisbane City Council Lord Mayoral Taskforce rejects fluoridation for Brisbane at this time and recommends further research for Queensland.
Queensland Fluoridation plan & Queensland Fluoridation Act
A review of the health system notes that Queenslanders have the lowest standard of oral health in Australia.
The Queensland Government announces a plan (Fluoridation to Deliver Better Oral Health for Queenslanders) to mandate fluoridation: the aim is to reach 80% of the population by 2010.
A new law mandates the addition of fluoride to any communal potable water supply to a population of over 5000, unless the Minister grants an exemption on the recommendation of the Queensland Fluoridation Committee.
Premier Campbell Newman amends the Fluoridation Act 2008. Local authorities now have the option to either opt out of fluoridation or reject its proposed implementation.
ADAQ curates and distributes much needed resources and information to Queensland dentists and practice staff.
The profession successfully navigates a rapidly changing regulatory landscape and work disruptions, thus ensuring patient care continues within health directives.