For those who love science and are fascinated by the oral health sector, a career as a dental nurse is an absolutely good choice. Dental nurses work alongside dentists and therapists, providing help and direct support in matters regarding dental care and hygiene. From welcoming patients to handling surgical instruments, they help fix people’s smiles
Dental nurses play an important role in the oral health sector. Since they deal with a wide variety of dental patients, they need to be good in dealing with people.
What are the required people skills?
• A sociable person: as a dental nurse, one needs to relate well with people, understand them as they come in so as to be able to deal with their special needs
• Calm and supportive: the nurse needs a reassuring manner
• Great team skills: corporation is a must so as to get results
How to become a dental nurse
One can undergo full-time training by going through the college course or just receive training by working as beginner in a dental practice. No special qualifications are needed for one to start out as a trainee nurse although good GCSEs scores in Math, English and Science are an added advantage.
Both cases involve studying, registration and approval by the dentists’ council that is the General Dental Council upon attainment of the necessary qualifications.
This training includes theoretical and practical work. Therefore the full-training schedule will include 12 to 18 hours of practical work in an NHS organization or private dental practice. This practical work will include:
1. Record maintenance and taking care of patients
2. Dental radiography and infection control
3. First aid emergency services
4. Oral diseases and how to prevent them
5. Offering support during treatment
For qualification, one needs to undergo either of these approved courses:
• Foundation Degree in Dental Nursing
• Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing
• National Diploma in Dental Nursing
• Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing
In addition to the above, one needs to display passion when dealing with patients, caring for them and possess good practical skill and other personal skills such as good eyesight, confidence, steady hands and above all be hardworking
What does a dental nurse do?
As aforementioned, dental nurses provide support to dentists in matters concerning dental care. This support ranges from taking patients record to handling and sterilizing the dental kit and includes:
• Preparation of materials such as those used for teeth filling
• Getting saliva and water out of the patient’s mouth during treatment
• Passing of instruments from the dental kit to the dentists or therapists
• Ensuring the patients are comfortable and relaxed
In addition to the above, the nurse helps out at the reception area. This is common during busy periods. The nurse sorts out and books the appointments and collects payment. It is common for them to apply their skills and reassure patients too to put them at ease.
The working schedule is normal. Normal working hours, that is 9am to 5pm during weekdays i.e. Monday to Friday although this depends with the practice. Some open during evenings too and allow for part-time work sometimes.
A nursing uniform is a must have. In addition, surgical gloves and safety glasses are used to minimize the threat of cross-infection
Those starting out in the NHS earn around 16000 euros while their qualified counterparts earn between 19000 to 22000 euros.