What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Dental Nurse? | learndirect

What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Dental Nurse?

Posted on 31/07/2020
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Dental Nurse?

Becoming a dental nurse is a great way to earn a living. Although you’ll focus on oral health, your workday will be ever-changing as each patient requires individual treatments and procedures.

You’ll be providing excellent service alongside a team of other dental care professionals. Not only will you be required to assist with medical procedures, but you’ll also be there to support the patient.

As dental practises can be a source of anxiety for many it’s important that dental nurses can provide emotional support. You’ll need to have a caring disposition and be able to work well under pressure.

As a dental nurse you will be able to find work in private or public healthcare across the UK. This could be in a dental practice, hospital setting or even as a community dental nurse.

But it doesn’t have to end there. Once qualified you’ll have the opportunity to develop your career in other roles in dentistry.

With further training you can find yourself working as a practice manager, dental hygienist or an orthodontic therapist. So there’s plenty of room for growth if you have the ambition and drive.

Read on to learn more about how to get qualified and a more in-depth breakdown of your day-to-day roles.

Getting Qualified

learndirect | What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Dental Nurse | Getting Qualified

To become a qualified dental nurse you’ll need to enrol on a GDC approved course.

GDC stands for General Dental Council. They are an independent organisation in the UK that regulate dentistry courses to ensure quality content is provided.

You can become a trainee dental nurse without a GDC approved qualification. Although you’ll be limited in what you do whilst working and there won’t be much room to grow without training.

GDC approved courses are offered through:

  • Local Colleges
  • Online Learning Providers
  • Universities
  • Apprenticeship schemes

Entry requirements will vary depending on your provider and style of course you choose.

Colleges and online learning providers will offer dental nursing diplomas. They will most likely ask for GCSEs in English Language, maths and preferably a science too at C/4 or above.

The Nursing Examination Board of Dental Nurses is an awarding body that provide a GDC recognised qualification.

Though an NEBDN certified qualification isn’t necessary, it follows the GDC Preparation for Practice document guidelines. This means that you can be confident in knowing the training you’ll receive will be to a high standard.

Roles & Responsibilities

Wherever you find yourself working as a dental nurse there will be a lot of aspects that are the similar. That being said, there are responsibilities that are more common in certain workplaces than others. As well there being some procedures you won’t be able to do without further training.

A ‘normal’ workday for a dental nurse will consist of the following core responsibilities:

  • Preparing fillings and other materials
  • Providing support and reassurance to the patient
  • Sterilising instruments
  • Processing and filing x-rays
  • Tidying and cleaning the dental surgery
  • Recording and filing information about patients
  • Advising patients on oral hygiene
  • Carrying out stock control

Dental Clinic

learndirect | What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Dental Nurse | Dental Clinic

Dental clinics operate in traditional working hours and are often a little more routine.

You’ll be assisting the dentist calmly and efficiently with procedures and treatments.

As well as having a part in the upkeep and maintenance of the clinic. Which consists of making sure hygiene guidelines are met and files are organised.

With further training you could find yourself as an orthodontic nurse. Orthodontics is a specialised area in dentistry that mainly focuses on correcting bites and straightening teeth.

Orthodontic dental nursing is available for qualified dental nurses who wish to train further and develop their skillset.


Dental nurses in a hospital setting work alongside a myriad of other professionals in oral care. This can range from post graduate dental students to consultants in charge of whole departments. So, your days will be quite varied in terms of what is required of you.

Although general check-ups can still be part of your day-to-day you can also be involved in extractions or surgical removals.

Dental nurses working in a hospital would do well in studying further and achieving certificates in sedation and radiography.

Sedation requires further training due to the importance of understanding the side effects. You’ll learn how to identify areas of concern and respond accordingly if need be.

Gaining a certificate in radiography allows dental nurses to work as an IR(ME)R operator. You’ll be qualified to take intra-oral and extra-oral radiographs of patients.

Further studies as a dental nurse can enhance your CV as well as benefit your patients. 

Community Dental Nurse

Community dental nurses provide care to members of the community who are unable to go to a dental clinic. You would be required to travel locally to patients and make sure their oral health isn’t compromised.

As you’ll be working with vulnerable members of the community it can be helpful to you to receive extra training in these areas.

A certificate in special care dental nursing will give you the knowledge to carry out oral care to those in need.

Through your studies you’ll learn about conditions of impairment such as Down’s syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.

As well as acquired disability in adults and medically compromised conditions such as:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Bleeding disorders

Lastly, you will also learn about mental health disorders such as schizophrenia.

By covering a broad range of special care requirements, you’ll understand the importance of effective teamwork in oral care. As well as be able to follow proper protocol and guidelines.



learndirect is one of the UK’s leading online learning providers. Online learning is a flexible alternative to attending classes so you can learn without impacting your current schedule. There’s an expert tutor to guide you through your studies and as flexible payment options to help you spread the cost.

To learn more about how to prepare for your distance learning journey click here.

Click below to enrol on our new, NEBDN certified and GDC approved, National Diploma in Dental Nursing.

The places for this course are limited so act fast if you’re ready to start your journey in a new career.

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