Job type

Dental nurse

£20k - £32k

Typical salary

37 – 40

Hours per week

Dental nurses help dentists to treat their patients and do reception work and other tasks in the practice.

More info

  • A people-friendly role where you'll work with the public
  • You'll need to be calm, efficient and reassuring
  • Opportunities to progress into more technical dental roles with further training

You may work at a general dental practice, a hospital, with the community dental service or in a university. You could also work in the armed forces.


  • Pass instruments to the dentist or hygienist
  • Remove water and saliva from the patient's mouth during treatment
  • Prepare materials to make fillings
  • Make sure that the patient is relaxed and comfortable at all times
  • Keep the surgery tidy and sterile
  • Sterilise instruments
  • Help record information about each patient
  • You may also help at the reception area, booking appointments, taking payments for treatment and greeting and reassuring patients. 


If you work in a hospital's dental department you may be on call at nights and weekends for emergencies. You'll wear a uniform and protective clothing such as surgical gloves, safety glasses and a mask. You'll be standing for most of the day.

You'll need

This role requires someone with a calm, confident and reassuring manner, the ability to relate well to people, including children and those with special needs, and organisational skills.

A common route is to start with a dental practice as a trainee and study for a dental nursing qualification on the job.

You'll need to pass enhanced background checks for this role.

You can study for a Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing. You may be able to study full-time, or do 1 or 2 days a week in college and work in a surgery for the rest of the time.

Alternatively, you can take an advanced apprenticeship in dental nursing. You'll need to be working in a dental surgery to do an apprenticeship.

It may be helpful to join The British Association of Dental Nurses for professional development training.

Once qualified, you’ll need to register with the General Dental Council.


With experience you may be able to move into jobs like team manager, team leader, or dental practice manager. With further training, you could become a dental therapist, helping a dentist carry out the more routine dentistry work. You could also become a dental hygienist helping people to look after their teeth and gums.

You might decide to train as an orthodontic therapist helping dentists to improve the look and position of a patient's teeth.