Dental Nurse

Job Description:

Dental nurses support dentists in all areas of dental care.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

In this role you could:

  • 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


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • customer service skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations (leadership skills)
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Dental Nurse, you don’t necessarily need specific subjects, but having a strong educational foundation in science and related subjects can be advantageous. Dental nursing involves assisting dentists with patient care, so having a background in relevant subjects is beneficial. Here are some considerations:

  1. English Language: Strong communication skills, including reading, writing, and verbal communication, are essential for dental nurses as they interact with patients and maintain patient records.
  2. Biology: courses in biology are highly valuable. Understanding human anatomy, oral biology, and dental terminology is crucial in dental nursing.
  3. Chemistry: A basic understanding of chemistry can be beneficial, especially in understanding dental materials, infection control, and sterilisation procedures.
  4. Mathematics (Maths): Basic math skills are necessary for tasks such as calculating medication dosages, scheduling appointments, and managing inventory.
  5. Health and Social Care: If available, courses related to health and social care can provide insights into healthcare systems, patient care, and the role of healthcare professionals.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

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


You could do a course at college that would give you the skills and knowledge to become a dental nurse.

In the UK, for example, courses include diploma in dental nursing and a Level in Health.

The courses will usually be a mix of full-time study with work experience in a dental surgery.


You could do a dental nursing advanced apprenticeship. You’ll need to be working in a dental surgery to do an apprenticeship.

You could also do a dental nursing advanced apprenticeship in your national armed forces.


You could start as a trainee at a dental practice. You could then study for a dental nurse qualification on the job. This is a common route to take to become a dental nurse.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 37-40 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends on a rota.

You could work at a dental practice, at a health centre or in a public or private hospital. You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.

Career Path & 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