twitterfacebookLinked In

Frenquently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions for Dental Nurses


Courses (Click Here)

Training (Click Here)

Salaries (Click Here)

Schools (Click Here)



Dental nurses are dental care professionals and work as part of the dental team.

The job

A dental nurse supports the dentist in all aspects of patient care, this includes getting the appropriate instruments ready, mixing materials and ensuring patient comfort. They will also take notes from dentists dictation for records and once the patient has left, the dental nurse tidies the surgery and sterilises all of the instruments.

In general practice, sometimes the dental nurse may help with reception work - making appointments, taking payments, dealing with paperwork and meeting and reassuring patients.

Dental nurses can be employed in general practice, hospitals or the community dental services and can also train as a dental nurse in the armed forces.


The entry requirements

There are usually no academic qualifications needed to work as a trainee/student dental nurse, but in order to progress, you will need to study for further qualifications (see below). Some of these qualifications require GCSEs at grade D-G (or equivalent) for entry, others may require GCSEs at grade A-C (or equivalent) as a minimum.

Employers will expect a friendly, responsible attitude and positive approach to people and a willingness to study.



Once you start as a student/trainee dental nurse, you will be encouraged to study for a qualification. This is important for your future career development. The course needs to be recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC) - such as the National Certificate awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN), NVQ level 3 in Dental Nursing, level 3 VRQ in Dental Nursing, or the Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing.

Dental hospitals and further education colleges run National Certificate and NVQ courses. The Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing is offered at Portsmouth University.

If like most dental nurses, you start your career in a general dental practice, you will be able to study in the evenings or on day release.

The national certificate is awarded to dental nurses who have passed the examination and completed the equivalent of two years of full-time surgery experience.

If you begin your career in a dental hospital or in the community dental service, you will start as a student/trainee dental nurse, qualifying when you have obtained your National Certificate.

For details of centres offering the National Certificate, NVQ and VRQ courses, please see the
NEBDN website and for more information about the Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing, visit the Portsmouth University website

Some trusts may offer the chance to train through an apprenticeship in dental nursing. For general information about apprenticeships, please
click here


Career prospects

Experience as a dental nurse is usually a requirement for those wishing to become a dental hygienist or dental therapist (sometimes known as oral health practitioners).

With experience and further training, dental nurses can also work as
orthodontic therapists


Job vacancies

You can apply directly for vacancies in private practice and the NHS on this site.

At your interview you should discuss with your prospective employer how you might study for an approved qualification in dental nursing. If you want to study full-time in a dental hospital or college you should write directly to them.


Career Progression

There are a range of specialist courses available to Dental Nurses looking to progress in their career. NEBDN (National Examining Board for Dental Nurses) post-registration qualifications include:

  • Certificate in Oral Health Education.
  • Certificate in Dental Sedation nursing
  • Certificate in Special Care Dental Nursing
  • Certificate in Orthodontic Nursing
  • Certificate in Dental Radiography

Dental Nurses may also move into other dentistry associated roles such as Dental Practice Manager, Head Dental Nurse or Dental Nurse Team Leader. Further qualifications can prepare Dental Nurses to work as Dental Nurse Tutors, Dental Hygienists or Dental Therapists.


In order to work as a dental nurse, you must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) which regulates dentists and dental care professionals. In order to register with the GDC, you need to have successfully completed an approved qualification. For more information visit the GDC Website (

Career prospectsExperience as a dental nurse is usually a requirement for those wishing to become a dental hygienist or dental therapist (sometimes known as oral health practitioners).

With experience and further training, dental nurses can also work as
orthodontic therapists


Further information from

British Association of Dental Nurses
PO Box 4
Room 200
Hillhouse International Business Centre
Tel: 01253 338 360
Fax: 01253 773 266
Email: (for general enquiries)

National Examining Board for Dental Nurses
110 London Street
Tel: 01253 778 417



There are about 30,000 dental nurses working all over the UK. Most work in dental practices, while others work in the Community Dental Service or in hospitals. You could progress in a general dental practice to practice manager or you could help to train and supervise other dental nurses. In a hospital or the Community Dental Service, you could become a tutor dental nurse, or a senior or principal dental nurse in charge of a department or specialist area.

There are no set guidelines for a Dental Nurses' salary. Salary is whatever the practice in question decides to pay and so can differ widely, although it is linked to the location of the practice and level of experience. Here are some typical salaries.

At entry level (trainee) Dental Nurse's pay starts at the minimum wage, around £14,000 per annum.

An experienced Dental Nurse can earn £17,000 to £20,000 per annum.

A senior Dental Nurse may earn up to £26,000 (or more depending on the surgery) per annum

You might well start as a trainee on the minimum national wage, increasing your salary with experience to around £17,000 - £20,000.

The national average is £17,316.

The hours you work would depend on your employer. With a general dental practitioner, for example, the hours may be 8-8.30am to 5.30-6pm. Many practices also have some evening and Saturday morning surgeries. Part-time work is sometimes possible. You may need to stand for much of the working day, and you should be prepared to work under pressure because dentists are usually very busy.

Sources of information
British Association of Dental Nurses:
British Dental Association:
Dental Education Resources on the Web:
General Dental Council:
NHS Careers:



Courses in dental nursing

Enquiries email

Enquiries phone
01253 778 417
National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN) 110 London Street Fleetwood Lancashire FY7 6EU

University of Portsmouth

CertHE Dental Nursing

Full time 1.5 years Undergraduate diploma

Enquiries email

Enquiries phone
+44 (0)23 9284 5550
Science Faculty Office Science Admissions Centre St Michael's Building White Swan Road Portsmouth PO1 2DT


     Telephone: 020 3879 4940     Email:      ©2013 All Rights Reserved, Infinity Dental Recruitment Ltd