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


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

Apprentice Dental Nurse

  • Wage : £147.00 - £274.05 Weekly
  • Location: Hertfordshire AL5 1QQ

Apprentice Dental Nurse

  • Wage : £126.00 - £234.90 Weekly
  • Location: Beckenham BR3 4LS

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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