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A career guide to becoming a Dental Nurse 

Published: Saturday 15th August 2020

Dental nurses are often integral to the smooth running of a dentist surgery and can perform a range of tasks from working at reception to assisting dentists with complex procedures. Dental nurse jobs involve a good standard of inter-personal skills and can come with many benefits and rewards for those looking to progress in the industry and make their career in the world of dentistry. If you are interested in becoming a dental nurse, check out this career guide. 

What qualifications do I need to be a Dental Nurse?

Dental nurse jobs usually require you to have a Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing. Study can be full-time or whilst getting work experience at a dental surgery on a part-time basis, although will take longer to complete. In order to gain entry to dental nursing diploma courses, you will need up to five GCSEs, grades A* to C, or equivalent. There are apprenticeships available to those who work in dental surgeries and are looking to qualify as a dental nurse. 

male dental nurse posing and looking at you in an dentist office with medical equipment in the background

What qualities should Dental Nurses have?

You will need to have very precise attention to detail and be able to develop a close working relationship with the dentists you are working with in the surgery. Dental nursing jobs also require you to be calm and sensitive and attentive to the needs of patients and dentists. You will require a good working knowledge of dental terms, be organised and hard-working and may even need basic office and computer skills. 

Main duties

Dental nursing roles generally involves assisting and supporting the dentist or hygienist with a number of different tasks. You may be required to sterilise instruments and pass them to the dentist when they are treating patients. Dental nurses may also have to help remove excess liquids from a patient’s mouth to assist with a specific treatment. As well as caring for patients,  dental nurses may have to perform administrative duties such as recording information about the patient which the dentist has passed onto them and making sure patients’ files are in order and up-to-date. 

Dental nurse and patient choosing treatment in a consultation with medical equipment in the background

Where to find Dental Nurse jobs near me? 

Dental surgeries which offer treatment through the NHS will usually advertise in local press and on dedicated NHS job website. Surgeries that are offering dental nurse jobs may advertise on site or through local media. Dental nurse jobs can also be available at health centres and hospitals which have emergency dentistry departments. These jobs are usually advertised by the local NHS trust. 

How much do Dental Nurses earn? 

Most dental nursing jobs involve working up to 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday, although there can be some weekend work involved. Newly-qualified dental nurses can start on a salary of around £19,000 a year and earn up to £30,000 a year. There are also a number of opportunities for career progression with experience. A dental nurse can become a dental surgery manager or, with additional training, a dental therapist. 

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