The History of the NZAO

Specialist orthodontics was recognised as a separate discipline from general dentistry as early as 1927, when the New Zealand Society for the Study of Orthodontics was formed as a study group of the New Zealand Dental Association.

Orthodontic training became very popular following World War II. Many new training programmes were created at Universities throughout the world. From the New Zealand perspective the orthodontic course at the Eastman Dental Hospital, part of the University of London, opened up an exciting world to New Zealand graduates. This course gave financial assistance unlike those offered in the United States of America where there were severe financial restraints on access.

During the 1960s a steady stream of orthodontic graduates started returning home and setting up practices across New Zealand.

In the 1970s the degree of Master of Dental Surgery in Orthodontics at the University of Otago Dental School was established, opening the door to a new stream of orthodontic graduates.

In 1971 the New Zealand Society for the Study of Orthodontics held its first truly international conference designed for the specialist orthodontist. The programme was unashamedly targeted at the swelling numbers of fulltime orthodontic specialists rather than at the general practitioners with interest in orthodontics.

By the early 1980s the Society membership consisted of more specialist orthodontists than general practitioners. The need for a specialist organisation delivering advice, courses and programmes targeted directly at the specialist orthodontist in full time practice was recognised.

A proposal to the 1985  Annual General Meeting of the New Zealand Society for the Study of Orthodontics that the Society be changed to an Association of Orthodontists was rejected, but a working party was set up to investigate the need for a standalone association.

In 1986 a revised constitution for a New Zealand Association of Orthodontists (NZAO) was accepted by the AGM of the New Zealand Society for the Study of Orthodontics. Only specialist orthodontists were given the power to vote, although general practitioners would be most welcome to attend meetings and conferences.

Since then the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists has to become an internationally recognised body carrying out research, educational and monitoring programmes for orthodontists, general practitioners and the public.

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