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Career profile: Dental nurse

dental nurseGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

A dental nurse helps the dentist treat patients through maintaining a sterile environment and preparing materials for treatment.

On the job

Dental nurses normally work in dentist surgeries. They often carry out a broad range of jobs from greeting and reassuring patients to assisting with the treatment.

Some of the most important tasks include, keeping files and x-rays organised, keeping the surgery clean and sterile, getting instruments ready for treatment and mixing materials.

Course entry requirements

There are usually no academic qualifications needed to work as a trainee/student dental nurse, but in order to progress, you will need to study for further qualifications (see below). Some of these qualifications require GCSEs at grade D-G (or equivalent) for entry, others may require GCSEs at grade A-C (or equivalent) as a minimum.

What does the training involve?

Once you start as a student/trainee dental nurse, you will be encouraged to study for a qualification. This is important for your future career development. The course needs to be recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC) - such as the National Certificate awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN), NVQ level 3 in Dental Nursing, level 3 VRQ in Dental Nursing, or the Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing.

Dental hospitals and further education colleges run courses on a full-time and part-time basis. The Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing is offered at Portsmouth University.

If like most dental nurses, you start your career in general dental practice, you will be able to study in the evenings or on day release.

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)