Dental nurses assist dentists in carrying out oral-care procedures on patients, such as check-ups, fillings and tooth removal.
They provide a range of supportive duties from preparing and handling equipment to record taking and other administrative tasks.
This detailed guide includes a full dental nurse job description and everything else you need to know about dental nurses, including salaries, skills, qualifications, typical employers and more.
- Dental nurse job description
- How much do dental nurses earn?
- What does a dental nurse do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs dental nurses?
- Which junior jobs progress to dental nurse roles?
Dental nurse job description
Dental Nurse |Daffodil Dental
About Daffodil Dental
Daffodil Dental is an established, mixed NHS and private dental practice located in Hull city centre. We are a patient focused and quality driven dental practice, and pride ourselves on delivering exceptional levels of dental care to all our patients.
About the role
We have a fantastic opportunity for a qualified dental nurse to join our practice. You will support our team of 4 dentists to deliver the highest standards of dental care to all patients, while being responsible for all aspects of clinical support within the practice.
- Prepare the dental surgery for each patient, ensuring all relevant materials and supplies are in place
- Ensure all dental equipment is sterilised prior to each patient appointment
- Provide chair-side assistance to the dentist ensuring thy have the correct instruments and equipment
- Prepare dental materials and prepare filling mixtures
- Maintain patient clinical records and take notes as dictated by the dentist during patient examinations
- Ensure the care and welfare of all patients including monitoring patients during treatment, and offering support where needed
- Advise patients on effective oral hygiene including proper teeth brushing techniques and the importance of flossing
- Complete regular stock checks of dental materials, ensuring there is adequate stock of materials within the surgery
- Assist with administrative duties including greeting and checking in patients, booking appointments, calculating treatment costs, and taking payments
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full time position
- Some evening and weekend work as part of a rota
- Based in our recently refurbished Hull city centre practice, close to transport links
- Fully qualified and GDC registered
- Extensive experience in a dental practice as a dental nurse in the UK
- Solid understanding of CQC standards and how to effectively implement them
- Experience of using R4 software is desirable
Contact us to apply
If you are passionate about your career in dentistry and have the skills and qualities we are looking for then we would love to hear from you! Please contact Fiona Mitchell, HR Manager, on Fiona@DaffodilDental.co.uk.
How much do dental nurses earn?
Combining both NHS and private-care dental nursing, the average salary of a dental nurse is £17,851.
Dental nurse salaries in the UK
- Low: £13,000
- Average: £17,851
- High: £22,000
Source: CV Library
Dental nurse salaries will vary depending on;
- NHS or private – a dental nurse may be employed by the NHS or by a non-NHS company such as a private dental practice
- Dentistry specialism – dental nurses can opt to specialise in specific elements of dentistry, such as cosmetic dentistry
- General salary factors – such as level of candidate experience and location
For example, a dental nurse working in a private dental practice and specialising in cosmetic dentistry is likely to earn a higher salary than a dental nurse working for the NHS covering general dentistry and capped by the NHS Agenda for Change pay bands.
Bear in mind that these are average figures taken from job advert samples, and they do not include extra benefits such as overtime and non-financial benefits such as healthcare.
What does a dental nurse do?
Dental nurses carry out a range of duties to provide dental care to patients. Here are the typical tasks and responsibilities that you are likely to see on a dental nurse job description:
- Dental surgery set up – Ensuring the dental surgery is clean and well stocked before each appointment, and sterilising dental instruments and equipment between patients.
- Patient health checks – Assisting patients to complete dental history records, checking patient blood pressure and pulse when required.
- Support procedures – Assisting the dentist will procedures and treatments including passing instruments, adjusting lighting and suctioning saliva.
- Prepare materials – Mixing and preparing materials – for example, to make dental fillings.
- Dental preparation work– Taking and developing x-rays and setting casts for models of teeth.
- Record patient information – Making notes during patient examinations and completing patient charts during procedures.
- Patient care – Ensuring all patients are kept calm and informed about their dental treatment and procedures, and giving care instructions such as when to change bandages and what pain medication to take
- Educating patients – Offering advice around proper teeth brushing techniques and the importance of flossing.
- Admin duties – Assisting with administrative duties such as answering the phone, scheduling appointments, ordering supplies, and answering billing queries.
What do dental nurses need?
Dental nurses need a blend of skills, experience, knowledge, and qualifications to carry out their role effectively.
Exact requirements will depend on the seniority of each role, but this is a guide to what is generally required:
Junior dental nurse roles will normally require the candidate to have some former experience in a customer facing role. Previous experience in caring or nursing positions are preferred, although not necessarily within the dental industry.
Intermediate to senior dental nurse roles will normally require the candidate to have several years’ qualified experience successfully supporting a dentist, completing dental examinations, treatments, and procedures, alongside proven additional clinical or management skills.
Dental nurse skills
Dental nurses need a blend of skills to be able to complete their role effectively and safely, these include the following:
- Communication: Communicate effectively with dentists, colleagues, and patients, including providing support to distressed patients, clearly explaining procedures and treatments to patients, accurate note taking and charting, and understanding and fulfilling the directions of the dentist
- Interpersonal skills: Deal with patient in a friendly and professional manner, showing empathy towards those with a fear of dental work
- IT: to enable daily use of computers, phones, dental lighting, sterilisation equipment, x-ray machines etc.
- Organisation: to effectively multitask throughout the working day, such as ensuring patients feel cared-for, ensuring waste is disposed of correctly, ensuring patients in the waiting room are informed if the dentist is running late, and adhering to cross-infection procedures; and to provide excellent chair-side assistance to the dentist including ensuring everything is set out for the patient before they enter the room so the dentist has everything he or she needs in advance
And the more industry specific “hard skills” include:
- Dentistry knowledge: maintaining an up to date knowledge of dentistry, dental procedures and oral hygiene
- Dexterity: to complete a variety of dental treatments and procedures, including handling dental equipment and using dental implements within a patient’s mouth
- Good eyesight: to ensure treatment plans are correct and handle small dental equipment such as burs which are a vital piece of equipment that can be easily lost or misplaced
- Dental equipment – Supporting dentists in the use of lighting, X-rays, saliva ejectors etc.
Dental nurse qualifications
Some dental practices will take on trainee dental nurses who do not hold academic qualifications, however, they are limited in what duties they can carry out.
To progress as a qualified dental nurse, the candidate must register with the General Dental Council, and to do that they must complete a General Dental Council approved course, such as:
Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing
The Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing qualification gives learners the knowledge and skills to complete dental chairside work and provide support in a wide range of dental treatments.
Dental Nursing Certificate of Higher Education
This qualification focuses on enhancing the knowledge and practical skills required to achieve “safe beginner” status which allows dentistry professionals to practice independently.
Dental Nursing degree
A dental nursing degree blends dental theory with practical knowledge, focusing on a broad range of dental treatments.
What is expected of dental nurses?
Typically, a dental nurse will be expected to commit the following;
- Full time hours – (35-40 hours per week) usually from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
- Evening and weekend work – some evening and weekend work is expected in dental practices, as they normally offer out-of-hours appointments
- Location – based at the employer’s surgery
- Uniform/PPE – dental nurses are expected to wear a uniform and other personal protective equipment, such as gloves, safety glasses and masks, for their protection
Dental nurse benefits
Although dental nurses tend to receive an average salary, they do receive many other benefits including:
- Dental care
- GDC membership – many practices will pay for membership on behalf of their dental nursing staff
- Paid training – many practices will either cover or subsidise additional courses for dental assistants interested in radiography, sedation, impression taking or implants
- Bonuses – some practices offer a bonus scheme based on profits made within the branch
Who employs dental nurses?
Any business offering dental services will require dental nurses to support the dentists working with them. Public dental surgeries are the most common employer of nurses, but there are a number of other establishments who also offer dental treatments.
- NHS general practice dental clinic – Publicly funded dental surgeries
- Private general practice dental clinic – Surgeries who provide basic dental surgery as well as additional treatments that may not be available via the NHS, such as cosmetic procedures
- Specialist dental practice – Surgeries that focus on a specialised area of dentistry and therefore require staff with a focus on their specialism, such as implants, orthodontics, or endodontics
- Hospitals – Dental surgeries within hospitals which focus on extreme cases of dental problems and assist with extractions and surgical removals
- Mobile dental centre – Companies who offer dental treatment from within a small, self-contained environment, like an ambulance
- Domiciliary dental care – Services which visit care homes to provide dental care
- Prison – Treating patients who may be a danger to the public, and who may have little access to oral health products or education
Which junior jobs progress to dental nurse roles?
Alongside working as an apprentice dental nurse there are several roles that will progress into dental nursing (alongside completing a GDC approved qualification):
Trainee dental nurse
Junior clinical position, supporting the registered/qualified dental nurses and dentists with prepping the surgery, sanitising equipment, and completing charts.
Junior dental practice staff member, responsible for administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, handling payments and making patients aware of additional dental services.
Dental lab administrator
Junior dental lab staff member, responsible for administrative tasks such as placing orders for dental appliances e.g. retainers, dispatching orders, and issuing invoices.
Which senior jobs do dental nurses progress to?
Although dental nursing is a great career choice, with experience and/or further training it offers a number of progression routes including:
Dental hygienists providing cleaning procedures to prevent and treat gum disease and avoid futre dental problems.
Dentists are responsible for maintaining the overall oral health of their patients, including completing check-ups, treatments, and procedures such as filling a tooth or performing an extraction.
A dental practice manager oversees the non-clinical and business elements of the practice, while ensuring that all patients receive the highest standard of care.
Dental nurse job description – conclusion
Dental nursing is a highly skilled position and is in high demand across the UK in both the NHS and private sector.
It offers attractive career progression opportunities alongside a number of benefits and the opportunity to work in a variety of different establishments and specialisms.