The profession of dentistry is one of the major professions involved in the health sector and dentists and Dental Nurses (also called as dental hygienists are) in great demand. Dental Nurses assist dentists in tending to pre and post-treatment oral care, cleaning and sterilization procedures, maintenance of dental equipment, and even administration and record keeping.
Listed below are 5 steps on how to realize your aspirations to become a Dental Nurse.
1. Know your role and responsibilities
As a Dental Nurse you will have to assist the dentist in all his activities. Even though you may have a 9 to 5 routine, be prepared to spend off-working hours tending to emergencies. You will probably require to be standing for most of your duty hours. So build up your stamina for it.
Your major responsibilities include:
- Care and maintenance of dental equipment. You should ensure the correct equipment is available, properly sterilized.
- Maintaining a sterile environment in the surgery
- Maintaining dental records of patients including their case histories, x-rays, and medication.
- Preparing dental cement and moulds
- Assisting during procedures – passing tools , cleaning up blood, saliva etc
- Setting up appointments and collecting fees
- Maintain records of the practice
- Act as receptionist
A 2 to 3 year Dental Hygienist Associate’s degree or certificate course from a dental hygiene school accredited by the General Dental Council, is a must to become a Dental Nurse. The minimum qualification to enroll for the certificate course is a high school exam with Mathematics, Science and English. The certification programs generally include topics in oral hygiene, oral pathology. Oral anatomy, peridontics, anaesthesia and radiology.
Courses offered by the GDC are:
- A national certificate in Dental Nursing
- A NVQ level 3 in Dental Nursing.
- A VRQ level 3 in Dental Nursing
- A certificate of higher learning in Dental Nursing.
You can complete these courses part-time or full time at dental hospitals or colleges. The course includes hands on experience in Dental Nursing.
You are required to be licensed before you can become a practicing Dental Nurse. This consists of appearing in three examinations conducted by the American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. You will also have to pass the practical examination conducted by a board of the state where you plan to work. You may also have to meet other conditions required by the state before getting a license.
4. Apply for a job
There is a great demand for Dental Nurses in the military services, major hospitals as well as with private practitioners. You can choose to work full time or part-time. Most Dental Surgeons prefer part time Dental Nurses. You can work with more than one dental practitioner if you opt to work part time.
5. Career Progression
As a Dental Nurse, you are considered a very highly qualified professional. You can progress your career further by doing one or more of the courses offered by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN). They are:
- Certificate in Oral Health Education.
- Certificate in Dental Sedation nursing
- Certificate in Special Care Dental Nursing
- Certificate in Orthodontic Nursing
- Certificate in Dental Radiography