Dental nurses help dentists to treat their patients and do reception work and other tasks in the practice.
Salary range: £18,813 to £30,112
How to become a dental nurse
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
You can study for a Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing.
You may be able to study full-time, or do 1 or 2 days a week in college and work in a surgery for the rest of the time.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can take an advanced apprenticeship in dental nursing.
You’ll need to be working in a dental surgery to do an apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
A common route is to start with a dental practice as a trainee and study for a dental nursing qualification on the job.
- you’ll need to register with the General Dental Council
Professional and industry bodies
You can join The British Association of Dental Nurses for professional development training.
You can get more details about dental nursing from Health Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- the ability to work well with others
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- sensitivity and understanding
- knowledge of medicine and dentistry
- customer service skills
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to work well with your hands
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
What you’ll do
In this role you could be:
- passing instruments to the dentist or hygienist
- removing water and saliva from the patient’s mouth during treatment
- preparing materials to make fillings
- making sure that the patient is relaxed and comfortable at all times
- keeping the surgery tidy and sterile
- sterilising instruments
- recording information about each patient
You could work at a dental practice, at a health centre or in an NHS or private hospital.
You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.
Career path and progression
With experience you may be able to move into jobs like team manager, team leader or dental practice manager.
With further training you could become a dental therapist, helping a dentist carry out the more routine dentistry work. You could also become a dental hygienist, helping people to look after their teeth and gums.
You might decide to train as an orthodontic therapist helping dentists to improve the look and position of a patient’s teeth.
Health Careers has information on careers in all areas of the dental team.