What career progression is there in dental nursing?

6th Feb 2023
Dental Tools

As a dental nurse, there are a number of different options you could explore to help further your career. You could further your dental nursing knowledge in various ways or you could take on running of the business responsibilities depending on your progression interests. 


There are several options for dental nurses looking to take the next step in their careers

As a dental nurse lead, you will be responsible for maintaining stocks in the dental practice, ensuring audits are completed and stepping in to help where needed. You  will  oversee the other dental nurses in the practice boosting their morale and supporting them when they need it. You will also be responsible for helping the practice manager organising rotas for dental nurses. A role like this would suit someone organised and with a great desire to help, coach others, as well as liaising with the dentists. 

Practice manager 

If you've been working as a dental nurse for some time and have extensive experience, you could consider becoming a practice manager. They manage finances, direct staff, deal with patients and their concerns and ensure that hygiene standards are met. Whilst this role involves moving away from dental nursing and taking on all aspects of running  the business it can be an extremely rewarding job progression. Seeing your staff happy and the dental practice growing reflects a good practice manager.

Clinical trainers

Clinical trainers are responsible for the training and development of trainee dental nurses. They provide them with the skills to work on their own, as well as mentoring their progression through the role.

  • Courses develop their theory knowledge, clinical skills, and professional practice.
  • Mentoring and coaching provide guidance on how to perform tasks and give alternatives and suggestions of improvement for trainees.
  • You will need to be able to coach staff effectively, so they feel confident in carrying out their work safely and efficiently.
  • You will need good communication skills so that you provide  appropriate feedback to each trainee.

Specialisations for dental nurses 

If you wish to be more involved in the patient journey you could further train to enable the undertaking of certain procedures on your own. Generally, acquiring the specialisation qualification will also mean an increase in pay. 


If you become a radiography specialised dental  nurse you will be able to take and interpret various types of x-rays under the dentist’s prescription. Such a position is very useful in increasing efficiency in the practice especially in specialised ones like orthodontics. 

Oral health educator

This is suited for dental nurses passionate about oral health education. Oral health educators help patients to improve and maintain oral hygiene to various types of patients by adapting communication and advice to the specific needs of the patient

Fluoride varnish application 

With this qualification you will be able to apply fluoride varnish on patients teeth under the prescription of a dentist or as part of a dental health programme. This can be in the dental practice or within a community-based programme. 

Dental implants

If you have a particular interest in surgery, implant dentistry might be an option for you. This area of dentistry specialises in surgical procedure together with  expertise to restore dentition. The reason that patients may need an implant is caries, trauma or malignancy. 

Dental sedation 

Patients sometimes cannot have dental treatment in the dental practice because they are too anxious or have phobia. With dental sedation they have medication which helps relax and enable them to be treated. Most of the dental sedation is performed in the community which involves more members of the team to ensure patients are monitored closely during the procedure and afterwards. 

Orthodontic dental nurse

This area of dentistry specialises in alignment of the teeth and jaws and any dental treatments will be performed by dentists. It is an area which requires a great deal of organisation and attention to detail as you will be handling lots of small objects like brackets that are stuck to the teeth. Here you will see predominantly children of various ages so it’s perfect for any that enjoy working with young patients. 

Agency dental nurse

The world of locuming is super dynamic with lots of knowledge and skills to be gained. In this position you will be going to different dental practices on a daily or a weekly basis. You will meet new people and make useful contacts. The better pay and the great flexibility makes it a very attractive progression. For more details see what our current dental nurses say (perhaps attach here link of our dental nurses reviews)

There are many career paths you could follow beyond being a dental nurse

  • You could become an oral health therapist or hygienist. These help patients improve their oral hygiene and prevent gum disease.
  • You might want to train as a dental technician, which involves working on dental appliances in the dental laboratory rather than with patients directly.
  • Alternatively, if you would like to stay in the clinical side of dentistry but spend more time with patients rather than on paperwork, becoming an orthodontic therapist could be for you. These professionals help patients get used to wearing braces or retainers by providing advice about oral hygiene wearing of the orthodontic appliance to make it more comfortable yet effective .

We hope that this article has given you an idea of the career progression available for dental nurses. It is a great career with a lot of growing opportunities. Whether you decide to further train or stay as a dental nurse we wish the very best of luck in your career!