What Does Dental Nursing Involve?
A dental nurse would assist the qualified dentist with all parts of patients care ensuring the list of operations run efficiently during the clinical session period and dental nursing duties would include :
Ensuring the correct instruments are ready and making sure the instrumentation is right, not broken and sterilised
The essential lab results/ work and provisions are on hand
Assist with the suction throughout dental procedures such as scaling, cleaning and polishing teeth
Mixing materials used during procedures
Make sure patients are comfortable and offer open support to the patients who have any second thoughts to dental treatment (which can be common)
Make sure radiographs, study models and case notes are prepared for clinical sessions
When the patient leaves you would need to tidy up surgery then sterilise the equipment so the surgery is in good working order for the next session.
This above list for dental nursing is not exhaustive and you would also need good organisational traits and ability to effectively communicate as a dental nurse, both in writing and in spoken words. Other roles in dental nursing may sometimes require you to assist with reception such as arranging appointments, sorting out paperwork and taking payments.
As a dental nurse you could be employed in hospitals, a general practice, community dental services and you can even be trained for dental nursing in the armed forces.
Qualifications for Dental Nursing
Formerly, you didn't need any qualifications to be a dental nurse. Previously the majority started their careers in dental nursing doing training in house with supervision direct from a dentist or senior dental nurses. However now employers will need all possible dental nurses to obtain a recognised qualification in dental nursing, following the formation of the General Dental Council (GDC) which is the new register (since 30 July 2008) for dental nursing and professionals in dental care. The following qualifications are recognised for dental nursing:
National Certificate - presented by National Examining Board for Dental Nursing
NVQ Level 3 - Oral Healthcare
SVQ Level 3 - Oral Healthcare
Certificate of Proficiency (in Dental Nursing)
Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing
Courses for dental nursing are offered on a full or part time scheme at either colleges or dental hospitals. The last qualification on the list is only offered in a couple universities: Portsmouth and Teeside. If you end up starting your career in dental nursing through in house training in a general practice its likely you probably have to do evening study classes or on a certain day you are let off work each week to study (day release).
If you start your dental nursing career in a specialist hospital or perhaps a community dental service, you start as the trainee/student dental nurse and you would qualify in dental nursing after obtaining a National Certificate. You will have to attend lectures on dental nursing a few times per week and practical experience in dental nursing will be achieved by placements in specific clinics in hospitals. At the end of the training period you will have to take the hospital aptitude test prior to an exam from the NEBDN. The national certificate will be presented once you pass all the dental nursing examinations and have completed 2 years full time experience in surgery.
Exams for dental nursing takes place twice a year (May and November) and are made up of a written paper, oral exam, practical exam and spotter test. You would have to pass by 75 percent or over in them separately to pass or you would fail and have to re-sit.
The NVQ (oral healthcare) qualification in dental nursing is approved by NEBDN. Here instead of studying and an examination, students complete modules for the dental nursing course, which count in the final exam. This is only recognised Britain.
Applying to become a Dental Nurse
If you are lucky enough you could apply for a modern apprenticeship in dental nursing through a trust and they will take you through and pay for all your dental nursing training. This is very limited and competitive so spaces can fill up quickly.
If you were to be a dental nurse you have to register with the GDC. This council controls dental nurses, dental care professionals and dentists. To register you must have obtained one of the above recognised qualifications in dental nursing. This includes anyone working as a dental nurse occasionally or part-time and temporary/locum dental nurses working through an agency or independently.
Once you are a qualified dental nurse you can improve your skills and knowledge in dental nursing (enabling you to become a bigger asset to your employer) by study for a National Examining Board for Dental Nurses post qualification certificate. The following areas are offered:
Specialist Care Dental Nursing
Oral Health Education
Dental Sedation Nursing
You can move on even further in your dental nursing career into an occupation like a dental therapist, hygienist or even some prefer to become dental nurse managers, dental nursing tutors or practice managers and these can all be achieved through experience. With further training you could even be an orthodontic therapist.
Salary wise there is no set rate in dental nursing but salaries are roughly between £14,000 and £20,000 depending on what stage you are at in your dental nursing career and they can increase the further you proceed in your career up to as much as £30,000 for a dental nurse tutor.
If you were working as a dental nurse for a practitioner in a general practice the usual hours would be between 9am and 5pm but dental nursing could include occasional evening work and weekends. Working in community dental services and hospitals you are more likely to have more standard hours. If you are hospital based you may sometimes also be expected to help give a hand in theatres or go along with the surgeon or dentist to patient's on wards. Community dental services work from many places such as mobile clinics, patient's homes or residential care homes and more.
To work for the armed forces or community services in dental nursing it is ideal to have a clean valid driving license and your own transport as you will be expected to work inl multiple locations.
IF dental nursing is the career for you or you are still not sure then get in contact today and we can give you more information on dental nursing and answer any questions or queries you may have.