How to become a dental nurse

You can get into this job through:

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

College

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), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

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), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

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Work

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

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Registration

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
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

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 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.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Dental Nurse

  • Wage: £174.00 - £328.40 Weekly
  • Location: Cranbrook

Dental Nurse Apprentice

  • Wage: £154.05 Weekly
  • Location: Beverley

Courses In England

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Jobs In the United Kingdom

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