Dental Nurse: Role & Responsibilities

If you’re considering a career in dentistry, this post will outline the key responsibilities of one of the most important roles in the industry – the dental nurse.

We’ll discuss what the role might involve, what qualifications you might need, and some other things you should consider if you’re thinking about training to become a dental nurse.

Dental nurses support dentists with all aspects of a patient’s dental experience

What Is A Dental Nurse?

Dental nurses support dentists with every aspect of a patient’s dental care journey. This might involve some administrative work, helping patients to make and manage their appointments, and providing some advice on treatment and procedures.

What Support do Dental Nurses Provide During Treatments?

Dental nurses also provide direct support during dental treatments:

  • Maintaining equipment and instruments, including taking responsibility for decontamination and storage.
  • Ensuring that all required materials and supplies are in place and readily available throughout the procedure.
  • Managing patient records, and taking notes while the dentist examines the patient.
  • Offering general ad-hoc support to the dentist, responding quickly and effectively to their requests.
  • Managing cleaning and infection control procedures throughout the surgery.

What Qualifications Do I Need To Become a Dental Nurse?

You may not need any academic qualifications to work as a trainee dental nurse. However, if you want to become a fully-qualified dental nurse, you’ll have to complete a dental nursing course that’s approved by the General Dental Council.

You can complete these courses either full-time or part-time. Different providers will set different course requirements. But as a minimum, to start a part-time course you’ll need two GCSEs in English language and a maths or science subject. And for a full-time degree level course, you may need A-Levels or equivalent qualifications.

Alternatively, you can take a level 3 apprenticeship in dental nursing.

What Skills Do I Need To Become a Dental Nurse?

  • Communication and interpersonal skills. You’ll be working closely with patients, many of whom might be feeling anxious about their treatment. Part of your job will be keeping them calm and putting them at ease, while effectively outlining just what the treatment will involve, and what it will achieve.
  • Organisational and time-management skills. You’ll be managing many aspects of the dental surgery, which will involve handling confidential patient information. And during procedures, you’ll have to be there for the dentist whenever they need you.
  • Flexible and willing to learn. You’ll have a lot of different responsibilities, and no two days will be quite the same. Almost every day will provide a unique learning opportunity. And eventually, you’ll have a chance to offer advice and to share your experience with others.
  • Good stamina. You’ll work long hours, you’ll do some demanding tasks, and you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet. The work of a dental nurse can be highly rewarding, but also quite demanding!

How To Find a Dental Nurse Job

Broadly speaking, if you want to work as a dental nurse, you have two options:

  • Get a job in a surgery. Dental surgeries hire dental nurses on a full-time basis. They’ll then take care of your salary, your on-the-job training and development, and your insurance.
  • Become self-employed. Some dental nurses work on a self-employed basis, often supporting multiple different surgeries on a temporary basis. Self-employed dental nurses may aim to develop skills to work towards specialist roles, such as a dental therapist, or a dental hygienist.

If you’re a self-employed dental nurse, then you’ll have to take care of your own insurance cover. Read our full guide to insurance for dental nurses.

We offer tailored cover for dental nurses from as little as £9 a month, with no hidden fees. Find out more and get a free quote online today.