Dental nurse

A dental nurse supports the dentist in all aspects of patients’ dental care.

Working life

As a dental nurse, you may help with reception work and could help any member of the dental team - dentists, clinical dental technicians/technologists, hygienists and therapists – treat patients of all ages.

Some will be there for a check-up while others will have more complicated treatment. You’ll need to reassure people and put them at ease, while supporting the team in all aspects of patient care.

In a dental practice you will welcome patients and provide direct support with the treatment itself:

You will also be responsible for ensuring high standards of cleanliness and control of infection. With extra training you could take x-rays and clinical photographs, take impressions, make models of teeth and apply fluoride varnish to prevent tooth decay.

You may also help with reception work. Tact and discretion are important qualities for a dental nurse - you will be handling confidential patient information and caring for people who may be anxious.

Entry requirements

You can usually work as a trainee dental nurse without academic qualifications but, to progress to being a qualified dental nurse, you will need to study for a course in dental nursing, either part or full time, that is approved by the General Dental Council. Exact course requirements will vary from provider to provider, but a minimum 2 GCSEs (C grade or above) in English language and maths or a science subject are usually required for part-time courses.

Full-time courses may require evidence of A-level or AS-level study. Check our course finder for available courses and always check with individual course providers about their specific entry requirements.

You must be happy to work as part of a team and willing to learn and understand the science behind dentistry. You’ll be dealing with a broad range of people, each with their own characteristics and concerns so you’ll need to be tactful and friendly and able to offer advice and educate others. You will often need to follow instructions from the dentist.

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