How To Become A Dental Nurse

Dental Nurse

The Job

Dental nurses support the dentist in caring for dental patients. The role includes getting the appropriate instruments ready, taking notes, mixing materials and helping patients to feel comfortable. Dental nurses should be calm and reassuring and have a positive and responsible approach to the work. Good communications skills and the ability to relate well to people of all ages is also a must.

Annual Salary

Dental Nurse Salary

Minimum Education Level

Level: Level - Entry

Minimum Qualifications

No formal qualifications are required to work as a trainee dental nurse but you should be working towards a recognized qualification at Level 3.

Recommended Qualifications

Practicing dental nurses must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). To register you must complete a GDC-approved course. The most common route is to find a position as a trainee and then study part-time for the National Diploma in Dental Nursing, the Level 3 NVQ in Dental Nursing or the Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing. Courses are run by many colleges, private training providers and some dental hospitals.

Alternatively you could take an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing or take a full-time GDC approved course, such as the Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing and Foundation Degree in Dental Nursing (available at some universities).

Further information can be found at the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN) and the British Association of Dental Nurses.

Other Qualifications Needed

Some employers, such as the armed forces, will expect you to have GCSEs at C or above in English and maths, and also a Level 2 qualification in a physics based science subject.

Average Working Hours Per Week = 30-40 hours a week


Common Working Pattern

Common Working Pattern

Time Taken To Qualify

18-24 months

What Next/Career Development

Once registered as a dental nurse you could develop your career through specialist training in a variety of areas including dental sedation, oral health education, dental radiography, orthodontic nursing, medical emergencies or special care dental nursing.

Experience as a dental nurse is helpful if you wish to become a dental hygienist or dental therapist.

Facts And Figures

The health sector employs 5.5% of the working age population of the UK, making it the country’s largest employer.

(Source: National careers Service)

There are an estimated 30,000 dental nurses in the UK.

(Source: British Association of Dental Nurses).

Dental nurses are employed as ranking members of the armed forces, carrying out their duties in military dental centres.