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Dental Nursing as a career

What can you expect from a dental nursing career?

Dental nursing offers many rewards and opportunities. As a dental nurse, you’d be part of a system that improves patients’ health, appearance, and overall self-esteem — and what could be more rewarding than that? You’d also get to meet and interact with patients of all ages, cultures, and personalities. If you’re a “people person” who enjoys being around others and making a difference to their health, then a career in dental nursing might be just the perfect fit!

But it’s not just about the softer side of the job. Dental nurses have a long list of key responsibilities and essential tasks — each of which are crucial to the smooth running of a dental practice each day. There are many different elements to the role of a dental nurse. You will be working closely alongside a clinician, so maintaining a good working relationship is crucial.



Scope of Practice for Dental Nurses

Dental nurses are registered dental professionals who provide clinical and other support to registrants and patients.

As a dental nurse, you can undertake the following if you are trained, competent and indemnified:

  • Prepare and maintain the clinical environment, including the equipment.

  • Carry out infection prevention and control procedures to prevent physical, chemical and microbiological contamination in the surgery or laboratory.

  • Record dental charting and oral tissue assessment carried out by other registrants.

  • Prepare, mix and handle dental bio-materials.

  • Provide chairside support to the operator during treatment.

  • Keep full, accurate and contemporaneous patient records.

  • Prepare equipment, materials and patients for dental radiography.

  • Process dental radiographs.

  • Ensuring stock levels are sufficiently maintained in your surgery

  • Receptionist duties

  • Monitor, support and reassure patients.

  • Support patients and colleagues if there is a medical emergency.

Pros & Cons of Dental Nursing


  • The opportunity to support nervous patients and build up a rapport provides great job satisfaction

  • Variety; no two days are the same in dentistry

  • Lots of different career progression opportunities

  • You can work in a diverse range of settings

  • You can earn while you learn


  • The role can be physically and mentally demanding at times

  • You are at an increased risk of neck and back problems

  • This is not the job for you if you are squeamish – seeing blood, pus and other bodily fluids is the norm

  • We do not get enough recognition for what we do


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 within two years of obtaining a trainee position. 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

  • National Diploma in Dental Nursing (NEBDN)

  • Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing (Full time course)

  • Foundation Degree in Dental Nursing (Full time course)

Embrace personal development and upskill

As a qualified dental nurse, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn and develop. A Personal Development Plan will help you ascertain which skills and competencies you’d like to train in and why.

You could train within a specialist area, such as radiography or orthodontics. Another option is to become a qualified oral health educator or practice manager. Many nurses have gone on to become tutors and assessors, and some have studied to become hygienists or dentists.

Further qualifications and courses will likely be required as your career takes shape. But there really is no limit as to how far you can develop yourself if you are passionate, committed, and willing to put in the work and time required to retrain and redevelop.

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:

  • Dental Receptionist

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.

  • Practice Managers

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:

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.

The NEBDN Certificate in Oral Health Education allows you to offer oral health advice and education to patients under the instruction of a dentist.

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.

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.

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:

  • Sign up online

  • Complete application forms

  • Provide the necessary documents as specified in confirmation email

Need more information?

More information about Infills Academy can be found on this website and interested applicants are always welcome to contact us via our online enquiry form.

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