The Complete Guide to gaining a Dental Nurse qualification: Everything You Need to Know
There are a variety of reasons why one may consider a career as a dental nurse. Perhaps it’s a passion for science, or a stable line of work. Whatever your reasoning, dental nursing is without question, a varied and rewarding role that can develop into a fulfilling career.
That being said, it’s one that requires a specific level of knowledge to get started, and you will need a dental nurse qualification to practice. However, that shouldn't deter you. Nowadays there is a lot more respect for those who would like to pursue dental nursing roles, and as a result more people feel empowered to start a career in dental nursing.
What is a Dental Nurse?
A dental nurse is someone who works closely with a dental clinician, assisting in all aspects of patient care. Dental nurses have knowledge of a variety of dental procedures from general check-ups to specialist treatments.
Some of the responsibilities of a dental nurse include:
Preparation of appropriate instruments
Correct infection control
Surgery preparation and sterilizing of instruments
Preparation of materials to make fillings
Completion of patient notes
Aiding in the efficient running of the dental practice
Ensuring confidentiality is always correctly followed
Why become a Dental Nurse?
There are a number of reasons you may wish to get a dental nurse qualification and work as a dental nurse. These include:
A Solid Career Path
If you don’t have many other qualifications, getting a dental nurse qualification opens a door to a solid career and a way to obtain a valuable set of skills which will likely be required for many years to come.
Certain dental nurse qualifications require no prior knowledge or experience in the field, opening them up as options for people from a variety of different backgrounds.
Good Continued Development
Compared to other caring professions, dental nursing offers plenty of opportunity for continued development through additional training. This is great for those looking at a long-term plan for their career and those who wish to work their way up the ladder through continued learning, experience and hard work.
How to get a Dental Nurse qualification?
You can work as a trainee Dental Nurse initially however, you won’t be allowed to perform certain procedures until you are a fully qualified Dental Nurse, e.g you have your dental nurse qualification.
If you want to become a qualified dental nurse you will need to undergo the required training. The General Dental Council (often abbreviated to GDC) is the body which registers dental nurses. In order to register with the GDC you will need to obtain a recognised dental nurse qualification, such as a dental nurse diploma.
To progress to be a qualified Dental Nurse you’ll need to study a dental nursing course. There are a number of dental nursing courses available that will get you the qualification you need. However, in order for your dental nursing qualification to be recognised, the course you choose must be approved by the General Dental Council (GDC).
Approved dental nurse qualification courses include:
QCF Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing
NVQ Level 3 in Dental Nursing
Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing (Full time course)
Foundation Degree in Dental Nursing (Full time course)
Earn whilst you learn!
Many trainee dental nurses will opt to follow the first route explained above, that is to work whilst gaining a qualification. This is a great method as it gives you an opportunity to still make a living whilst you are learning. By following this route, you will work towards a dental nurse qualification whilst working and earning from a dental practice.
What skills do you need to get a dental nurse qualification?
While other qualifications are not always necessary, if you are interested in becoming a dental nurse without prior training, you should be aware of some of the skills which a potential employer will deem to be more favourable.
Strong communication skills and the ability to put people at ease are vitally important as you will be coming into daily contact with patients. It is also beneficial if you are organised, with great attention to detail as you will be completing to patient notes and maintaining the running of the dental practice.
What can you expect to earn as a Dental Nurse?
For working a standard week every week, a trainee dental nurse salary will be around £16,000* per annum. However, many qualified dental nurses earn between £19,00* and £22,000* with good employers. Team leaders and specialists are able to earn up to £28,000*.
*These figures are a guide.
Where can you work as a Dental Nurse?
The most obvious place a dental nurse will work is in a dental practice, either private, NHS or a practice which offers both services. However dental practices aren’t your only option. Some dental nurses will find work in hospitals or community dental practices and some work in the military healthcare services.
What is a typical career path for a Dental Nurse?
Choosing to become a dental nurse gives you access to a long and rich career path. Besides dental nursing there are a number of other dentistry fields you may be able to work in. Some of these are detailed below:
Many dental nurses will also work as practice receptionists; however, it may be the case that you feel you may be better suited to fulltime reception work. There are specific courses available for those looking to become a dental receptionist. This training will help you understand how to deal with enquiries, train you in the correct telephone manner and how to deal with complaints.
After working as a dental nurse for a number of years some people decide to become a Practice Manager as a way to progress their career using the experience they have gained whilst working in the field. There are many responsibilities involved in working as a Practice Manager and the job can be extremely demanding with a strong focus on organisation and deadlines. The Practice Manager is essentially in charge of making sure the dental practice runs smoothly for both the employees and the patients, whilst meeting important legislation requirements.
What further training is available for Dental Nurses?
One of the great things about a getting your initial dental nurse qualification is that there are always ways to further your skills and advance your career in other directions.
Once you are qualified, you can continue more training to become further qualified in a particular field. Gaining one or more of these further qualifications will benefit your practice as you will be able to take on some of the responsibilities of the dentist and/or hygienist. Some of the available specialisation courses include:
Certificate in Dental Radiography
The NEBDN Certificate in Dental Radiography is available to those who are registered and qualified Dental Nurses. The Certificate in Dental Radiography allows you to take radiographs of patients under the instruction of the Dentist.
Certificate in Oral Health Education
The NEBDN Certificate in Oral Health Education allows you to offer oral health advice and education to patients under the instruction of a dentist.
Certificate in Orthodontic Nursing
The NEBDN Certificate in Orthodontic Nursing is available to those who regularly assist in orthodontic procedures and who are qualified and registered as a dental nurse. If you work in an orthodontic practice you will greatly benefit from this qualification.
Certificate in Dental Sedation Nursing
The NEBDN Certificate in Dental Sedation Nursing is available to those who assist in surgery during conscious sedation and who are qualified and registered dental nurses. In order to complete this course, you need to work in a practice which regularly completes routine sedation. This is because you are required to complete a Record of Experience and log sheets as a requirement for the examination. This course is beneficial for those who want to work in hospitals, which regularly use sedation.
Certificate in Special Care Nursing
The NEBDN Certificate in Special Care Dental Nursing is aimed at those who regularly assist in the treatment of patients whose health or social care needs require special oral health care provision.
Certificate in Dental Hygiene / Dental Therapy
A Certificate in dental hygiene or dental therapy can be a valuable addition to a dental nurse’s CV. Becoming a hygienist or therapist will allow you to perform hygiene treatments yourself, under the prescription of a dentist. This will make you more valuable to your practice as you can take on responsibilities of other members of your team, freeing up their time for other tasks.
Why choose Infills Academy?
The NEBDN National Diploma in Dental Nursing is the primary dental nurse training course offered at Infills Academy. Delivered fully online, this study option is great for those currently working in practice seeking to achieve their full dental nurse qualification.
How to apply
In order to secure a place on the National Diploma in Dental Nursing with us, you need to take the following steps:
Complete application forms
Provide the necessary documents as specified in confirmation email