Dental nurse

Healthcare
Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would look after people when they visit the dentist and make them feel comfortable. You’d assist the dentist as they give treatments and help with other aspects of patient care.

You’d look after patients who are coming for a simple check-up or having advanced specialist treatment.

Patients may be nervous so you’d need to be calm and reassuring. You’d try to make sure that they are relaxed and comfortable at all times.

You would:

  • Tidy and prepare the dental surgery
  • Sterilise instruments
  • Keep areas in the surgery sterile
  • Pass instruments to the dentist, therapist or hygienist
  • Remove water and saliva from the patient’s mouth during treatment
  • Prepare materials, for example, to make fillings
  • Help the dentist record information about each patient
  • Check the stocks of dental materials

At a general dental practice, you may also help at the reception area, especially during busy periods.

This would involve booking appointments, taking payments for treatment, and greeting and reassuring patients.

You could work for the National Health Service (NHS) or in the private sector. You can see more about this role in the National Health Service on the Dental nurse page on the NHSScotland Careers website.

Working conditions

Hours

You would normally work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may work outside of these hours if the practice you work for opens during the evening. Part-time work is sometimes available.

Environment

You would wear a uniform and surgical gloves for protection. Safety glasses and a mask are also used to reduce the risk of cross-infection.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Caring for people
  • Working with your hands

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You would need a dental nursing qualification (SCQF level 5), a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Dental Nursing (SVQ level 3).

Entry requirements to a Dental Nursing course are normally three to four subjects at National 4 or 5, including English and a science subject.

Requirements vary for entry to a job or Modern Apprenticeship as a trainee dental nurse in a dental practice, or NHS hospital Dental Service but some employers will require qualifications at SCQF level 4 or 5.

Useful subjects

  • Maths
  • English
  • at least one science subject

You will also need

To pass a Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Disclosure check.

Once in the job you can gain a relevant qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Dental Nursing (SCQF level 3).

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate understanding of health, wellbeing and care such as:

  • Skills for Work Health Sector (SCQF level 4/5)
  • Health and Social Care (SCQF level 6)
  • SQA Wellbeing Award (SCQF level 3-5)