Dental nurse

Dental nurses play a very important role in dentist practices. They work closely with the dentist, providing support throughout a patient’s visit.

The work of a dental nurse

Dental nurses are required to assist in many aspects of running a dental surgery. This includes:

  • preparing the surgery
  • passing instruments
  • sterilising instruments
  • preparing fillings
  • maintaining sterile conditions
  • ensuring health and safety policy is adhered to
  • helping to record patient information
  • carrying out stock control

Dental nurses may also undertake additional training in a variety of areas such as assisting with conscious sedation or the application of topical fluoride.

Skills required

You will need a high standard of work and personal commitment. You will also require:

  • a high level of manual dexterity (be good with your hands)
  • good eyesight
  • good physical health
  • a friendly and sympathetic approach with a calm, confident and reassuring manner
  • an ability to relate well to a wide range of people

You should also be able to work well in a team and have good organisational skills to manage the administrative aspects of the job.

Training programmes

The National Certificate in Dental Nursing is a qualifying exam which can be taken at the end of a one year part-time training programme at various further education institutes in Northern Ireland.

Contact the institutions directly for entry requirements and details on how to apply.

As well as completing the course and passing the exam, student dental nurses must also develop a portfolio demonstrating two years’ chairside experience.

Full details of approved courses are available on the National Examination Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN) website.

Work placements during the course will be conditional on satisfactory completion of an Access NI and Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (POCVA) check.

Career pathway

A dental nurse has excellent permanent employment prospects in general dental practice and community clinics, and hospitals. There is also the opportunity to progress to a variety of post-qualification certificate courses, offered by NEBDN. These include Oral Health Education and Dental Sedation.

Professional recognition

To practise in the UK in any of the Dental Care Professions you must register with the professional regulator, the General Dental Council (GDC).

To join the register, applicants need to meet the professional standards set by the GDC.

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