Community Health Network

Wellness program in Cartersville, Georgia
Address: 1 N Tennessee St, Cartersville, GA 30120
Phone: (770) 334-2480

The Job Of A Dental Nurse - Training to Be a Dental Nurse

First of all, let's define what the duties of a dental nurse are. A dental nurse supports the dentist in all aspects of patient care, including preparing the necessary instruments ready, mixing materials and making a patient feel comfortable in a dental chair. They will also make notes from dentist's dictation for records into a record card and after the patient has left, the dental nurse has to tidy the surgery and sterilise all of the used instruments. As general practice witnesses, sometimes the dental nurse may participate in assisting with reception work which includes taking payments, making appointments, dealing with paperwork, as well as meeting, consulting and reassuring patients.

If you wish to work as a dental nurse, you must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). In order to register, you need to successfully finish a course which was approved by the GDC. There are two possible ways to gain these qualifications. One of the ways is through securing a position as a trainee dental nurse (usually in a general dental practice) and then study on a part-time basis in an institution (during a day or in the evenings). After completing it you are going to receive the National Certificate awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN), NVQ level 3 in Dental Nursing or level 3 VRQ in Dental Nursing. Usually these courses are offered by some dental hospitals and further education institutions. The national certificate is presented to dental nurses who have passed the examination and finished the equivalent during two years of full-time surgery experience. It should be mentioned that some NHS trusts may give a great opportunity to train via an apprenticeship in dental nursing.

The second way to gain the qualification of a dental nurse is to do a General Dental Council approved full-time course. This course is unfortunately suggested by a rather small number of universities. For instance, the Certificate in Higher Education in Dental Nurse Practice is suggested by Teesside University; the Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing is gived by Cardiff University and Portsmouth University; Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry provides a Diploma in Dental Nursing and the University of Northampton, a Foundation Degree in Dental Nursing.

Thus, in order to become a dental nurse one may choose between two alternatives. As a matter of fact, Dental Nurses can either apply for the National Certificate for Dental Nurses examination or take an NVQ (National Vocational Training) course. The advantage of National Vocational Training is that it undoubtfully results in a recognized qualification what is quite important these days. The two courses have differences. Both of the courses vary in the time they come to the end, that is why those people who want to take the National Certificate should be aware that the certificate cannot be presented without candidate's having over two years full time chair side experience.

Entry Requirements

If you are going to work as a trainee dental nurse there are usually no academic qualifications needed for it, but in order to progress, you will have to study for an approved course in dental nursing. As for part-time courses they will typically require GCSEs at least at grade D-G (or equivalent) for entry. Nevertheless, others may require minimum GCSEs at grade A-C (or equivalent). Full-time courses may require evidence of A' level/AS level study. Before applying you should remember that intending applicants must obligatorily check with the course provider for details of entry requirements. Beside the evidence of academic ability, employers will check your communication skills. Certainly, they will expect a communicative, friendly, responsible attitude and positive attitude towards people as well as your willingness to get knowledge and experience and to help others. In order to complete a course which results in a formal dental nurse qualification you will not need any formal qualifications necessary. Nevertheless, there are subjects that would be helpful for candidates in receiving better understanding of as they are relevant to dental nursing. Such subjects usually include Biology, Chemistry, English and IT.


The National Examining Board for Dental Nurses have been always responsible for the examination taken for the purpose of qualifying as a dental nurse. For a long period of time The National Certificate was the only course for dental nurses available in order to qualify. But after, registration and other professional duties, for instance, CPD, have become obligatory, another alternative way has become available. It is National Vocational Qualification

The privately run courses for future dental nurses are available at most of technical colleges, dental hospitals, or at other places around the United Kingdom including health centres. If you wish to get more details about courses in your nearest surrounding, it would be better to contact either NEBDN or the British Association of Dental Nurses for those interested in the National Certificate. It you are more interested in the NVQ you are welcome to contact City and Guilds.

It should be also added that in order to work as a dental nurse, you need to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). The duty of the latter is to regulate dentists and dental care professionals. In order to register with the GDC, you need to successfully complete an approved qualification.

Your Health Records

A dental nurse has a direct cooperation with the client's body, so just like everybody involved in the dental industry it is important for dental nurses to be vaccinated. First of all the vaccination includes the one against hepatitis B, which includes an initial blood test. This vaccination should be followed by a series of vaccination injections and another blood test aiming to ensure that the vaccination has been done successfully. Besides, you may be required the so called 'booster' injection, which is becoming less and less compulsory. As with all vaccinations, dental nurses must contact their own GP to arrange for this to be completed. If you are going to get the job in a dental hospital you will certainly be required to provide a personal medical history with all of the details of your health state during your whole life.

On the course

It usually takes about eighteen months to complete The National Certificate as students visit college for either one full or half day a week. As a matter of fact, topics studying the field of dentistry include anatomy of a tooth, general anatomy and physiology, dental materials and instruments, medical emergencies, dental treatments such as crowns and bridges, implants, fillings, dentures, infection control and sterilisation, patient management, health and safety and many many others.

The National Certificate exams should be passed successfully. Usually they take the whole day. Such exams have a definite structure.

A Dental Nursing Written Examination includes two parts.

Part A suggests multiple choices, shorter answer questions and dental charting, labelling a diagram and short answer questions related to diagrams.

Part B involves four essays (choose four of five specific questions and write essays)

A Practical Exam involves Spotter, which suggests twenty dental items to be correctly identified.

Part A involves correct mixing of a dental material.

Part B involves ten selected items which a student must describe including naming its correct function. Oral (viva) involves verbal question and answer session with the examiner (there may be several questions).

A new requirement when taking the National Certificate exam is designed for dental nurses to give evidence of their practical skills. It is a record of experience, received before candidates are given entry to the examination. The National Certificate exam is split into five sections and a case study, and is done during the training course. The duty of course providers is to provide the needed information for dental nurses who have to present a record of experience.

The National Vocational Qualification which should be taken by dental nurses is called NVQ level 3 oral health care: dental nursing. The knowledge is almost the same as for the National certificate but candidates are tested by a local assessor and witnesses. The exam takes place in the dental nurses working place, thus, being less traumatic approach for nurses. The course consists of modules and candidates themselves have to lead a record of their progress. The assessors have to sign it off from time to time. Candidates may choose their own pace of making it up, though it is much less challenging than the exam for those taking the National Certificate.

The NVQ exam consists of three parts: Medical history questions, Dental charting and Multiple choice and short answers.

It is an important point that both exams are marked by National Examining Board for Dental Nurses examiners.

Career Prospects And Job Vacancies

Dental nurses can get employment in general practice, hospitals or the community dental services. Besides, they can also train as a dental nurse in the armed forces.

No doubt, that nowadays experience of a dental nurse is an obligatory requirement for those people who want to become a dental hygienist or dental therapist (sometimes known as oral health practitioners). It's a great advantage if you have an experience of working as a dental nurse because, firstly, you may continue further training, secondly, dental nurses can also work as orthodontic therapists. The latter are able to earn higher wages.

If you are looking for a job of a dental nurse, the following information will be of great importance to you. You may simply use advertisements. Job vacancies in the NHS are advertised in a range of places including the NHS Jobs website Posts in general dental practice are often advertised on the Jobcentre Plus website.

After you have chosen the place to work, during your interview you should discuss with your prospective employer how you might study for an approved qualification in dental nursing. By the way, if you wish to get education through completing one of the full-time courses, you will have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.