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Medical

Dental nurse

Dental nurses help dentists to treat their patients and do reception work and other tasks in the practice.

Annual Salary

£20,329 to £31,533

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; on a rota

8%
Future employment

There will be 8% more Dental nurse jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • pass instruments to the dentist or hygienist
  • remove water and saliva from the patient's mouth during treatment
  • prepare materials to make fillings
  • make sure that the patient is relaxed and comfortable at all times
  • keep the surgery tidy and sterile
  • sterilise instruments
  • record information about each patient

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.

You could work at a dental practice, at a health centre or in an NHS or private hospital.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
College

You could do a course at college that would give you skills and knowledge for this role.

Courses include:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing
  • T Level in Health

Courses will combine full-time study with work experience in a dental surgery.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
For more information
Apprenticeship

You can take an advanced apprenticeship in dental nursing.

You'll need to be working in a dental surgery to do an apprenticeship.

You could also do this role in the armed forces.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information
Work

A common route is to start with a dental practice as a trainee and study for a dental nursing qualification on the job.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join The British Association of Dental Nurses for professional development training.

Further information

You can get more details about dental nursing from Health Careers.

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With experience you may be able to move into jobs like team manager, team leader or dental practice manager.

You could serve in the armed forces as a dental nurse.

With further training you could become a dental therapist, helping a dentist carry out the more routine dentistry work. You could also become a dental hygienist, helping people to look after their teeth and gums.

You might decide to train as an orthodontic therapist helping dentists to improve the look and position of a patient's teeth.

Health Careers has information on careers in all areas of the dental team.

You can get more details about dental nursing from Health Careers.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • customer service skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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