Dental nurses work alongside dentists to care for patients. They ensure that dentists are provided with all the instruments and materials they require to carry out their work.
No set formal qualifications are required to enter into trainee dental nurse roles, but employers tend to look for candidates with some GCSEs. Once in employment, trainees are required to study for a part-time qualification that, once obtained, will enable them to register with the General Dental Council. Alternatively, prospective dental nurses may attend college full-time and train for a dental nursing qualification that will enable them to enter into qualified dental nurse jobs. Suitable qualifications include National Certificates in Dental Nursing and NVQs in Oral Healthcare: Dental Nursing. Once in employment, dental nurses must keep their skills up-to-date by attending training courses.
Dental nurses are employed by general dental practices, hospital dental services, and The Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. There is currently a shortage of trained dental nurses, particularly in the south-east of England. Vacancies for dental nurses are advertised in a variety of ways. Dental recruitment agencies can be a rich source of jobs for trainee and qualified dental nurses.
Trainee dental nurses receive salaries of between £9,000 and £14,000 a year. Salaries are usually higher for those working in and around London. Qualified dental nurses may go on to study for certificates in specialist areas of dentistry, such as dental radiography or oral health education. Experienced nurses working in general dental practices may also train and supervise inexperienced dental nurses.