a dental nurse stood in front of the dental team

Dental nurse duties and what to expect from your first dental nursing post

Dental nurse duties and what to expect from your first dental nursing post

After completing your NEBDN Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing, there are a wide variety of opportunities for your first post on your new career ladder.

This blog aims to break down the different duties on a daily basis that you will face, depending on the environment that your first post is in.

What is the role of a dental nurse when you have just qualified?

After completing training, a newly qualified dental nurse takes on various crucial responsibilities in a dental practice. 

They assist dentists during procedures, ensuring a well-organized and prepared treatment environment. This hands-on experience helps them apply their knowledge and adapt to real-world patient care.

Apart from chairside assistance, they also handle administrative tasks such as maintaining patient records, managing appointments, and ensuring the practice complies with regulations. 

Patient care is a significant focus, and dental nurses contribute to creating a positive experience for patients by assisting with pre- and post-operative care and offering information on oral hygiene. Building good relationships with patients is crucial for fostering trust and maintaining a welcoming atmosphere in the practice.

However, for new dental nurses, their experience in their first post can vary depending on the setting they work in.

What do dental nurses do in hospital settings?

In hospital settings, dental nurse responsibilities are broad.

One primary duty of dental nurses in hospitals is to assist dental surgeons during surgeries and various dental treatments. This involves preparing the treatment room, sterilizing instruments, and providing chairside assistance, ensuring that procedures run smoothly and efficiently. 

Their role in surgical settings may extend to tasks such as handling dental equipment, passing instruments, and maintaining a sterile environment to uphold patient safety.

Patient education is another crucial aspect of a dental nurse’s role in a hospital setting. They provide information on postoperative care, oral hygiene practices, and dietary recommendations.

Beyond clinical assistance, dental nurses in hospitals often take on administrative tasks. This includes managing patient records, coordinating appointments, and liaising with other healthcare professionals to facilitate integrated patient care.

In emergency situations, dental nurses in hospitals may be involved in providing immediate care to patients with dental emergencies.

What do dental nurses do in private dental practices?


Overall, in a private dental practice, the role of a dental nurse is very similar to that of a non-private practise. However, the main differences can tend to be: 


Administrative Duties:

  • Private Setting: Dental nurses in private practices often take on additional administrative responsibilities, including appointment scheduling, billing, and insurance processing. They may play a crucial role in maintaining the efficiency and organization of the private clinic.
  • Non-Private Setting: In public settings, administrative tasks may still be part of the role, but the emphasis might be more on providing essential dental services to a larger number of patients.


Scope of Services:

  • Private Setting: In private dental practices, dental nurses often assist in a wide range of dental procedures, including routine check-ups, cosmetic dentistry, and specialized treatments. They may be involved in various aspects of patient care and administrative tasks to ensure the smooth functioning of the practice.
  • Non-Private Setting: In non-private or public settings, dental nurses may be more involved in essential healthcare services, such as preventive care, emergency treatments, and oral health education. The focus might be on serving a broader community with a diverse range of dental needs.

What do dental nurses do in community clinics?

While dental nurses in standard practices focus on individualized patient care within the confines of a private clinic, those in community clinics operate in a more expansive role, addressing the oral health needs of a diverse community.

Community clinics often prioritize outreach and education programs to promote oral health within the community. Dental nurses in these settings may actively participate in organizing and conducting community events, school visits, and educational workshops. 

a dental nurse taking care of patients.

This contrasts with the more individualized approach in a standard private practice, where the emphasis is often on personalized patient care.

In terms of clinical duties, dental nurses in community clinics may find themselves involved in a broader array of services, ranging from basic preventive care to addressing urgent dental needs.

Are dental nurse duties hard when you have just qualified?

Working as a dental nurse requires excellent communication skills, and may be stressful for some. However, it is crucial to enrol in a training course that enables you to develop these additional skills, and supports you throughout the process, and once you are in the field of work.

Since dental nursing is a highly rewarding career, with plenty of professional development opportunities, it is sure to be worth it once you get started.

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