A dental nurse is a practitioner who assists a dentist in all aspects of patient care. Dental nurses are educated in various dental procedures, from standard check-ups to specialised treatments.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- sterilise instruments and pass them to the dentist
- prepare materials to make fillings
- remove water and saliva from the patient’s mouth during treatment
- make sure the patient is comfortable
- tidy the surgery and keep records about each patient.
- Starting salaries for an apprentice is £21,730 per year.
- Experienced dental nurses can earn up to £32,934 per year.
You will typically work 37 to 40 hours per week, including evenings and weekends on a rota.
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.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice dental nurse include:
- Level 3 Dental Nurse – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This qualification will take 18 months to complete.
On a dental nurse apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- 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.
Career path and progression
With experience you could:
- move into a team leader, manager or dental practice manager position
- serve in the armed forces as a dental nurse
- become a dental hygienist or dental therapist with further training
- become an orthodontic therapist to help dentists improve the look and position of patient’s teeth.