Health practitioner comes full circle

Clinical dental technician John Egan is back home in Invercargill. PHOTO: NINA TAPU
Clinical dental technician John Egan is back home in Invercargill. PHOTO: NINA TAPU
Back home and the work keeps coming for John Egan - giving joy and hope to all and sundry.

It has been 37 years since the health practitioner left his birthplace to cut his teeth in the world of dental prosthetics.

Mr Egan left Invercargill in 1987, having started his working life on the chain at the Ocean Beach freezing works.

A cadetship at Acromet Dental Lab in Don St was his pathway to a future in oral health.

"I still have some family here and I get a lot of people who tell me that they know of the Egan name, so it just feels good to come back to the place where I was born," he said.

Mr Egan taught at the University of Otago dental school for 28 years and has worked in several clinics across New Zealand. He has travelled the world lecturing in his specialist field.

Dentures are removable oral prostheses that replace a person’s teeth when they lose them for a multitude of reasons.

A stint as chairman of the International Federation of Denturists enabled Mr Egan to broaden his academic scholarship and promote his expertise on a global scale.

The difference a set of dentures makes to his patients matters most to him.

"I fitted an older guy who hadn’t had front teeth for over 20 years and after he saw himself in the mirror his face lit up and he said his new smile got his confidence back," Mr Egan said.

Another patient walked into his practice saying he wanted to get dentures to improve his social life.

"After I treated him, he walked across the road, got his hair cut at the barbers and he came up to me in the supermarket the next day saying he was a brand new man."

A 10-minute drive gets Mr Egan to his Invercargill clinic and he enjoys the "kind vibe and the thrust of Southland" he did not recall when he was last here 37 years ago.

A lot of his patients got their teeth out for health reasons or neglect, but also because they were not able to afford dental care.

"In Southland there is a serious lack of dentists and that too has a major impact on people," Mr Egan said.

 - By Nina Tapu