Dental hygiene is now more important than ever. The industry is thriving. According to market research* there is a growing demand from the public for brighter teeth and healthier breath. This is good news to those who are interested in becoming dental nurses.

However, it is not an easy job to become a nurse in the dental field. So you may wonder, what are my responsibilities as a dental nursing assistant? What qualifications and skills will I need? How do you become a dentist?

The dental nurse role

The role as a dental nurse can be broadened and includes much more than just supporting dentists to perform routine checks-ups.

As a dental nurse, it is essential to work closely and support dentists in all aspects. This can include tasks like mixing materials, sterilizing equipment and taking detailed notes.

A dental nurse’s role is not limited to patient care. It can also include other duties outside the clinic. As a receptionist, you can be responsible for making appointments, taking payment and dealing with paperwork.

What skills do dental nurses need?

As in any healthcare position, you must demonstrate a willingness and aptitude to learn. To put it another way, you need to be curious about the science behind dental care.

Dental nurses are a diverse job that requires many skills. These skills include the ability not to buckle under pressure and to work as part of a team. They also require excellent communication skills, the ability for multitasking and the ability be calm and collected to do their job.

There are many personal qualities that make a good dental nurse. It is important to be compassionate, understanding, and a good listener. As many people are anxious about visiting a dentist and need constant assurance, it is essential that you have these qualities. The key to working well with children or difficult patients is being able to relate.

Additional skills required to perform administrative duties in the role of a dental nurse are also essential. You need to be proficient in computer literacy and be able take notes for the records of patients.

It is important to remember that the majority of your workday will be spent on your feet. It is important that you are organized, conscientious, and happy to work in small spaces for long periods.

What qualifications are needed to become an experienced dental nurse?

To become a dentist trainee, you do not need any academic qualifications. However, if you are interested in advancing your career as a dentist assistant, you will need a course of dental nursing. The General Dental Council approves both part-time as well as full-time courses.

A degree or AS-level may be required in order to take full-time courses. Part-time studies may require a minimum number GCSEs. Generally, this ranges from A to B in English language and maths to science. It is important that you check with your course provider for specific requirements or details about work experience.

As a trainee dental nurse you can start immediately. You will need to complete on-the job training while working towards your certification.

Dental nurse training

Dental nurses need to register with General Dental Council. This is only possible after you have successfully completed the approved GDC course. Here are some of the training courses offered:

Foundation Degree in Dentistry Nursing

Certificate of Higher Education – Dental Nursing

National Diploma in Dental Nursing (awarded in 2016 by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses).

QCF Level 3, Diploma in Dental Nursing

NVQ Level 3. Dental Nursing

You can study to be a trained dental nurse with the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses, the National Diploma in Dental Nursing (NEBDN), or the Diploma in Dental Nursing.

These courses can also be studied part-time in some colleges or dental hospitals.

You may prefer the full time approach if you are looking for a course that is GDC-approved. These courses can be accessed through a variety of universities, including University of Northampton.

There is no one right or wrong method for training as a dentist. You will need to consider your time frame and financial restrictions before you can choose the best training method. Once you have established your parameters, you can choose the right method for yourself.

Career development

Once you have completed an approved qualification, the GDC will require you to register. This governing body regulates dentists. Then, you can begin work in hospitals, private offices or general practices.

Once you have many years of experience you can begin planning your career. Your chances of advancing in your role as a Dental Nurse are greater the more you have experience.

Locum work is a possible option as a dentist. This route offers many advantages including the flexibility to work in shifts that are convenient for you, higher pay and the possibility of learning new techniques from a variety of settings.

It is possible that you want to learn more about dentistry. You could consider becoming a dentist hygienist. Or, a dental therapist.