Become an Expert Dental Nurse: A Comprehensive Guide to Training

20th Feb 2023
Teeth Impressions

Dental nurses are one of the most important members of a dental team. They provide vital support to dentists, hygienists, and therapists so that they can focus on providing quality care for patients. The role of a dental nurse is often misunderstood by those outside of the industry, but there are many benefits to working as such. You will enjoy flexible hours, excellent job security and plenty of opportunities for advancement. Curious about how to start off this journey? We believe that the success of this process is to be as informed and knowledgeable about the profession as you can. Below we have put together lots of handy information and tips to help you become an expert dental nurse.

What will you do as a dental nurse?

  • Set up with the correct equipment for dental treatments
  • Support the dentist during treatments with handing instruments, mixing materials and ensuring the patient’s comfort. You may also work with hygienists or therapists. Whilst both deliver oral hygiene advice to patient and undertaking scaling and polishing of teeth, Therapists have a larger scope of practice including fillings on adults and children and crowns on children
  • Sterilisation of instruments and cleaning of equipment of your dental surgery between appointments to ensure every patient is treated in a clean environment
  • Following the most up to date guidelines on infection control
  • Stock up and ensure all material and equipment that you need is available
  • Carry out daily checks and maintenance on dental equipment
  • Support other colleagues in cases of medical emergencies
  • Be respectful of patient and colleagues and professional at all times
  • Be a good co-worker and help out your colleagues when they need it

What skills do you need to become a dental nurse?

  • You will need good communication skills to support clinicians and patients during treatment. These will be helpful in your daily job as you’ll be organising your day and communicating with other members of staff like receptionists to avoid delays in patients’ care.
  • You’ll need to be empathetic and compassionate as many patients that you’ll meet will be anxious about coming to the dentist. Listening to their worries, having an open-mind, and trying to help them along their journey are key qualities of a caring dental nurse.
  • You’ll need to be organised and always aim towards the highest cleaning standards. A key responsibility of a dental nurse is ensuring that all instruments have been sterilised and equipment and environment is clean for the next patient. You will also need to enjoy reading from time to keep yourself up to date with news in dentistry. Dental nurses like all other dental care professionals are required to maintain their knowledge through undertaking refresher courses regularly.

How do you Become a Dental Nurse


There are various ways to get a dental nursing qualification:

  1. You can undertake an apprenticeship in dental nursing
  2. You can undertake a diploma in dental nursing
    1. There are multiple providers out there and a simple Google search should bring these up. In short, an apprenticeship is a government funded scheme, which means that you won’t have to cover the costs of the courses, whilst the diploma is self-funded but provides additional benefits. Here at Cavity, we also have a dental nursing course so feel free to ask any questions.
    2. We have compiled an extensive comparison between Apprenticeship and Diploma and this can be accessed here “Diploma versus apprenticeship”.
  3. You can undertake a degree in dental nursing at university. Whilst some may be interested in experiencing life as a university student, others may see the extent of the course and the fees as a disadvantage.

As you can see there are many options to choose from so it's worth researching before you decide. On completion of the course, you will be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC).

Other checks that you need to be aware of:

  • Disclosure barring service (DBS) checks. As you will be working with vulnerable patients, every employer will request a DBS check before you can work as a trainee dental nurse.
  • Hepatitis B vaccination. In order to work as a dental nurse, you will need to demonstrate immunity against Hepatitis B or complete a vaccination course of Hepatitis B.

If you’re looking to work in the dental care industry, then becoming a dental nurse is the perfect career choice. The skills that are required are like those required by other nursing professions but with a focus on dentistry. You will need to demonstrate a high level of professionalism as well as excellent communication skills so that patients feel comfortable in your care.