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What does a Dental Nurse do?

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

A dental Nurse profession is a great opportunity to earn a living and progress your profession in dentistry in the UK.


The role of a dental nurse is to work alongside and assist dentists, therapists and hygienists in the care of patients. It is a varied job and can include everything from supporting with routine check ups to advanced specialist treatments.

A very important aspect of the role is making the patient feel relaxed and comfortable during appointments. Other responsibilities include preparing materials for treatments, removing saliva from the patient’s mouth during treatment, record keeping for the dentist, sterilising instruments, stock control and cleaning and tidying the dental surgery.

Dental Nurse responsibilities will include but not limited to the following core responsibilities:


  • Preparing fillings and other materials

  • Sterilising instruments

  • Processing and filing x-rays

  • Tidying and cleaning the dental surgery

  • Recording and filing information about patients

  • Carrying out stock control

  • removing saliva from the patient’s mouth during treatment

  • Assist in managing the appointment book for clinicians

  • Build trusting and caring relationships with all patients and take all reasonable steps to ensure their comfort

  • Maintain patient confidentiality at all times.

  • Coordinate with the laboratory on timely dispatch and receipt of work.

  • Assist on reception

The dental nurse isn’t just there to help the dentist during each appointment – it’s about anticipating exactly what the dentist will need next. But one of their most important roles is being there for the patient – helping them to relax, answering questions, and explaining procedures in more depth. Learning how to build rapport with each patient is something that only really comes with experience.


A critical part of the role is sterilising the dental environment, instruments and equipment in order to minimise the possibility of cross-infection.


Outside of these, your Dental Nurse job description can vary depending on your workplace.


"The scope of your practice is a way of describing what you are trained and competent to do. It describes the areas in which you have the knowledge, skills and experience to practise safely and effectively in the best interests of patients.." – (GDC, 2013)
gdc scope of practice
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To become a registered dental nurse and work as a qualified dental professional in the UK, you’ll need to achieve an entry-level GDC recognised diploma or course. GDC stands for the General Dental Council and they are the independent organisation in the UK that regulates the health, medical and dentistry sectors and their services/courses to ensure the quality is provided. Visit GDC’s website for qualification evaluation.


Post-registration qualifications/additional duties


Some dental nurses study for post-registration qualifications after completing their dental nursing training in order to be able to perform advanced tasks such as; taking x-rays, assisting with sedation, carrying out oral hygiene education, taking impressions or photographs or applying topical fluoride.


There is a wide range of career options open to fully qualified and registered dental nurses. After gaining additional qualifications and experience many dental nurses continue on to become practice managers, or move into management roles within practices or hospitals or become trainers themselves.


Taking further courses in specialist areas is a great way to open doors to a whole host of career options.


Check out the list of courses we provide at Infills Academy by clicking on 'courses' in the above menu.


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