Dental nurse

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

Average salary (a year)

£17,787 Starter


£29,608 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends on a rota

How to become a dental nurse

You can get into this job through:

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


You can study for a Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing.

You may be able to study full-time, or do 1 or 2 days a week in college and work in a surgery for the rest of the time.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

More information


You can take an advanced apprenticeship in dental nursing.

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

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More information


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

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.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

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
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • passing instruments to the dentist or hygienist
  • removing water and saliva from the patient's mouth during treatment
  • preparing materials to make fillings
  • making sure that the patient is relaxed and comfortable at all times
  • keeping the surgery tidy and sterile
  • sterilising instruments
  • recording information about each patient

Working environment

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

You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.

Career path and progression

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

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.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Dental Nurse Apprentice

  • Wage : £118.40 Weekly
  • Location: Crewe CW2 6JG

Dental Nursing Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £175.00 - £350.00 Weekly
  • Location: London SE22 9ET

Courses In England

Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing

  • Provider: Eastleigh College
  • Start date: 19 March 2019
  • Location: Eastleigh

Dental Nursing - Diploma - Level 3

  • Start date: 09 September 2019
  • Location: BOOTLE

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