What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Dental Nurse?

Portrait of happy young woman sitting in dental chair while visiting female dentist for routine checkup, teeth cleaning or whitening

The medical profession has some very noble specializations and one of them comes in the area of dentistry and dental therapy. However, dentists aren’t our focus here but the ladies (most times men) that assist them in attending to patients afterwards, doing dental check-ups, counselling patients, taking records, raising the banner of the profession high up the skies and virtually assisting in everything that leads to a successful dental surgery. 

They are called dental nurses and if you are planning on becoming one, it’s an excellent choice. You don’t go in unarmed academically or without having substantial practical knowledge of dental nursing as in the trainee route, you won’t get past the reception, so here are the qualifications you will need to become certified as a dental nurse.  

The Qualifications

There are two routes to becoming qualified as a dental nurse. The first is through college or university; you get admitted into a reputable college of choice that offers any course in dental nursing and study for the required number of years. The college route also comes with practical placement or internship in a dental hospital. When you’ve successfully met all the pre-requisites in the book for graduation, the college awards you a degree in dental nursing. 

The alternative route to college is starting as a trainee in a dental hospital, while taking part time courses in dental nursing to get qualifications like the National Diploma in Dental Nursing or obtaining a qualification from the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN). 

Via this route, you begin work immediately as a dental nurse and you learn on the job. It might take you longer than the college route or even shorter, but the important thing here is that, you gain firsthand knowledge on the job. This route comes with the perk of getting paid while you are still learning. 

Both means of getting qualified grants you the eligibility to attain certification with the General Dental Council (GDC) in the UK which has to be the final bridge you’d have to cross before you can become fully certified as a dental nurse. Basically, the GDC certification comes after you’ve gone through a two year surgery experience and must have succeeded in the examination that comes afterwards. 

Via the college or university route, you can run it on a full time basis or part time. Full time courses demands you have an A-level or AS- level study and the part time courses require having a GCSE, whichever you choose, ensure the course you are studying in dental nursing is approved by the GDC. 

Some of the courses you can undertake in dental nursing include: 

  • Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing
  • Foundation Degree in Dental Nursing 
  • Level 3 Diploma in Dental Nursing 
  • National Diploma in Dental Nursing awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nursing (NEBDN)
  • Diploma in Dental Nursing 

Further qualifications are available as you climb higher in the ladder of the profession, but for now, these are the basics.