What it is Like to Work as a Dental Nurse

Portrait of smiling young female dentist standing by teenage girl in clinic

Nurses play an auxiliary role to medical doctors and surgeons in any medical field they find themselves. Dental Nursing isn’t an exception. If you’ve been wondering what it’s like to work as a dental nurse or what the dental nurses go through daily in their profession, then here you go. 

First Things First 

In order to survive in this line of duty, you need to be armed with these major skills, else you’ll struggle to adapt and if you can’t shape in, you will be shipped out. Don’t feel threatened by that warning, these skills can be acquired without necessarily bursting your veins. 

Here are the skills:

  • Patience 
  • Good interpersonal skills 
  • Ability to adapt to any situation 
  • Ability to multitask 
  • Tolerance; some patients can be very difficult 
  • Ability to predict what is needed without the dentist yelling it out
  • Good communication skills 
  • Ability to work alongside a team 
  • Ability to work under pressure without breaking

All these skills might not be taught in the four walls of a college while you are trying to attain the necessary qualifications but you could learn them as a trainee nurse. Either ways, know them, acquire them and keep them in your finger tips or pockets so they could come in handy anytime. 

A Working Day in the Life of a Dental Nurse 

Dental nurses could work for a private dental clinic or at government health centers as seen in National Health Schemes (NHS). Some could engage in community medicine where they attend to the basic dental needs of locals in the suburbs and where they have to do a lot of travelling.  

Dental nurses could work full time or part time. In some hospitals that have a dental department and are open 24 hours, dental nurses can run shift day and night shifts like their general nursing counterparts. 

A day in the life of one dental nurse can be very hectic especially when patients arrive in droves and dentists are shorthanded.

A typical working day in the life of dental nurse involves doing anyone of the following:

  • Sterilizing dental instruments
  • Keeping records of patients 
  • Counselling patients on the need for oral hygiene and recommending dental products 
  • Suctioning water and saliva from patient’s mouth in the course of dental care
  • Booking appointments for the resident dentists where there is no receptionist
  • Accepting payments in the absence of a cashier 
  • Supplying dental instruments to the dentist during surgery
  • Processing and filing x-rays 
  • Attending to patients after the dentist is done. Basically cleaning the patient up. 
  • Attending to patients who came for check-ups 

That and many more depending on the hospital, are what dental nurses face daily. You could see that most times they have to do the job of a receptionist and cashier. This brings the need for adaptation, multitasking and fantastic communication skills to the fore. There are day offs too where they take out time to rest and replenish zapped energies. There are leaves too which are obtainable in government clinics, some private clinics grant leaves to their staff.