A dental nurse is an imperative part of a dental team, working alongside and supporting dentists and oral hygiene professionals. They ensure that all areas of patient care and comfort are considered in the correct manner.
Dental nurses assist in working practice with preparing and sterilising surgical equipment, preparing materials for dental work including fillings and extractions, processing radiographs, and operating suction devices. Nurses will also clean the dental room between patients, maintain equipment and check stock levels.
There are also administrative and reception duties as part of the role of a Dental Nurse. In daily working practice, dental nurses manage patient dental records, and record information for patients’ oral health. Administrative duties will also include writing dictations, making appointments, answering telephone calls, calculating treatment costs, filing paperwork, and being the first point of contact for patients coming to the practice.
Excellent communication and people skills
Be able to build rapport and a working relationship with patients
Working with efficiency
Being able to work under pressure whist remaining calm
Possessing an understanding and supportive nature in order to work with nervous patients
Keen to attend ongoing training and development
Be able to understand and apply scientific knowledge.
Good manual dexterity.
Work well in a team
Using discretion and sensitivity
It is possible to commence work as a trainee Dental Nurse without any qualifications. However, many employers do require Biology and English GCSE graded A-C. In order to progress from a trainee position, it is necessary to study a course in Dental Nursing, which needs to be approved by the General Dental Council (GDC). Entry requirements for these courses vary from course to course, but many require AS or A-level study. Such approved courses include the National Diploma in Dental Nursing which is examined through the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN).
Since 2006, it is now a requirement for Dental Nurses to register with the General Dental Council, and qualifications for eligibility range from National Certificates, NVQs and Certificates of Higher Education.
Many individuals work as a Dental Nurse with a view to gaining dental experience, before undertaking further training or academic courses to progress into roles such as a Dental Therapist, Dental Hygienist, Orthodontic Therapist, or Dentist.
Dental nurses can also build up their skills and become more experienced in their role. This could then pose the opportunity to achieve more specialist qualifications such as dental radiography and sedation.
There is also the opportunity to move away from a hands-on-role, as more experience can lead to more clerical roles in management, such as a Team Manager or Dental Practice Manager.
Pros and cons
Varied tasks during a working day
A growing industry
Enjoyable for people that enjoy person-centred roles
Standing most of the day
Able to work as a trainee without qualifications
Not suitable for people that find it grossly uncomfortable working with bodily fluids, or struggle at the site of operations
Potentially long hours
According to payscale.com, the average hourly rate for a Dental Nurse is £8.48, ranging from £7.06 to £10.48. The higher wages are usually received where Dental Nurses have additional specialist skills such as Radiography, or are working within a London Borough.
The British Association of Dental Nurses –
The National examining board of Dental Nurses –
The General Dental Council –
The British Dental Association –
Resources Centre for Dentists –
British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry –
British Society of Oral Medicine –
The Oral Health Foundation –