April 14, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
A dental nurse is an essential part of the dental team, helping to ensure that the patient is well cared for. As a dental nurse it is important to be friendly, calm and efficient and have a reassuring and welcoming manner.
A dental nurse works closely with the dentist, providing assistance throughout a patient’s visit. Assisting the dentist encompasses a wide range of procedures from preparing the various materials required and ensuring the proper instruments and equipment are available, to cleaning and sterilising the used instruments. Additional duties may include helping the dentist to record information about the patient’s oral health, processing radiographs and stock control.
In general dental practice, a dental nurse’s duties may also including helping at reception – making appointments, getting involved in the administration of the practice and collecting money. The roles that are undertaken vary depending upon the individual practice and interests of the nurse.
Dental nurses must either hold a recognised qualification and be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) or be working towards registration on an approved training course. The National Certificate in Dental Nursing is a recognised qualification which is accredited by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses. This certificate can be obtained by working in a dental practice while undertaking part-time studies to prepare for the qualification.
After gaining a qualification in dental nursing, there are various options available for further training, which allow dental nurses to undertake additional responsibilities. These include post-qualification certificates in oral health education, radiography, and conscious sedation.
Many dental nurses obtain further qualification and training as dental hygienists and dental therapists.
In addition to being adaptable, flexible, and reassuring, being able to work as part of a team is essential. This is particularly important in dental surgery, which is often stressful and where the key is to be able to work quickly and calmly while coping with multiple changes of plan often with little or no notice.
A dental nurse is often in a better position to recognise if a patient is particularly nervous and to put a patient at ease. Patients usually find dental nurses easier to confide in about any difficulties they are experiencing, which may be important for the dentist to know, especially if it affects their dental treatment. In this way, a dental nurse can improve communication between the dentist and patient.
Some assisting work can be very precise and a high degree of manual dexterity is a valuable trait.
A dental nurse also needs to be highly organised and ensure that essential equipment and materials are easily accessible during any dental surgical procedure.
Most dental nurses are employed in general dental practice and others are employed by the hospital service, the armed forces, the salaried primary care dental service and companies that provide dental care for their employees.