A dental nurse assists a dentist, orthodontist, or other dental service health professional with patients and procedures in a dental office.
They ensure all equipment is sterilized and ready for patients.
They also prepare patients for oral procedures or surgery.
Dental nurses, also called dental hygienists, work alongside a dentist to support the doctor with instruments.
Table Of Contents
What is a Dental Nurse?
Dental nurses are dental health professionals who work in dental offices providing oral care to patients.
Dental nurses and dental hygienists undergo the same education and training.
They may perform various tasks such as cleaning teeth, checking for cavities, and providing dental education to patients.
What is a Dental Nurse Called?
Dental nurses are also called dental hygienists.
In the United States, dentists’ offices employ dental hygienists.
What does a Dental Nurse do?
Dental nurses or hygienists work in dentists’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and schools.
They provide support to dentists with services such as:
- oral exams and cleanings
- treatment of tooth decay and gum disease
- teeth whitening and fluoride varnish
- placement of braces, crowns, bridges, implants, etc.
- x-rays and dental scans
Work Opportunities in the Dental Nurse Industry
Dental Nurse Job Description
A dental nurse or dental hygienist is a healthcare professional who provides preventive dental care to patients.
Dental nurses may work in private dental practices, clinics, and schools and perform various procedures, such as cleaning teeth and gums, checking for cavities, removing plaque and tartar buildup, and providing fluoride treatments.
In some cases, they may also provide other services such as filling cavities and restoring teeth using dental prosthetics.
Top Dental Nurse Jobs and Careers
- Licensed Dental Hygienist
- Dental Assistant
- Registered nurse specializing in oral health
Where Can a Dental Nurse Work?
Dental Nurses work in various settings, including dentists’ offices, surgical hospitals, and clinics.
Dental nurses often work with other healthcare professionals as part of a dental team to provide comprehensive care for their patients.
What It’s Like to be a Dental Nurse
Is Being a Dental Nurse Hard?
Being a dental nurse is not hard for someone who enjoys interacting with and caring for patients and their oral health.
Dental nurses work with patients one-on-one to help maintain healthy teeth and gums.
They have a lot of responsibilities, so it’s essential to be organized.
Is a Dental Nurse Job Stressful?
Yes and no.
Being a dental nurse can be stressful in a busy office, but it can also be gratifying.
It can also be physically challenging, as the work involves close contact with patients and supporting the dentist.
Common Dental Nurse Work Day
Dental Nurse Tasks & Duties
Dental nurses are part of a dental team in a dentist’s office.
A typical day for a dental hygienist may include providing preventive care to patients, cleaning teeth and gums, taking x-rays, and administering dental treatments.
Dental hygienists may also work with a dental technician and the dentist to help maintain proper dental hygiene in their patients.
Dental Nurse Work Hours & Schedule
Being a dental nurse can be demanding and often requires long hours.
Depending on the hours of operation of the dentist’s office or facility, dental nurses may work long shifts, from open to close.
They may also need to be on-call for emergencies if they work in a clinic or facility that handles dental emergencies.
Dental Nurse Dress Code
Dental nurses wear scrubs like most health professionals.
Comfortable shoes are recommended because dental healthcare workers are often on their feet.
Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?
Most dentists’ offices are open during regular business hours and closed on weekends so that a dental nurse will experience a good work/life balance.
Dental Nurse Salary & Income
Do Dental Nurses Make Good Money?
A career as a dental hygienist can be very rewarding, not just in terms of the salary but also in helping patients with their oral care.
Dental nurses make a good salary and can expect a steady income.
How Much Do Dental Nurse Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental nurses earn an average salary of $77,700.
Still, salaries can vary widely depending on experience and location.
Overview of the Dental Nurse Industry
Dental Nurse Field: Career Progression
Dental nurses usually work in dental offices as assistants to dentists.
Still, they may also work in hospitals, schools, and other health.
As dental nurse gains more experience, they may move up to being a nurse supervisor or a private practice manager.
More education could lead to more career opportunities and advanced salary as a dental nurse.
Additionally, professional memberships such as American Dental Association can help career advancement.
Is Dental Nurse a Good Career?
Dental nurse and dental hygienist are good careers for people who want to help others with oral health.
This career offers flexibility, competitive salaries, and opportunities for advancement with experience and additional education.
Dental Nurse Job Outlook
Dental nurses and dental hygienists are always in high demand, as with most professionals in the national health service industry.
Oral care is necessary, so the dental nurse field continues to grow.
More people are seeing periodontists, orthodontists, and general dentists.
Dental Nurse Facts
Dental hygiene and the oral care industry are projected to see an 11% growth over the next ten years.
As a result, dental nurse and dental hygienist jobs are on the rise.
Jobs Related to Dental Nurse
Jobs in the oral healthcare industry supporting dentists and orthodontists are plentiful.
Dental nurses can work with a specialized dental care professional such as a dental therapist or orthodontic therapist and perform duties assisting with dental radiography and dental surgery.
There are a few jobs in the dental industry that include:
- Dental Hygienist
- Orthodontic Assistant
- Periodontal Assistant
Continued education and certifications could lead to jobs like a registered nurse or nurse practitioner specializing in oral health.
In your job search, sign up for a job alert for each area of expertise.
Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Dental Nurses
Who Should Consider a Dental Nurse Career Path?
The primary qualification to get started in dental healthcare is a genuine interest in dentistry, dental procedures, and oral hygiene.
In addition, patient care should consider a dental nurse career path.
Anyone already a certified dental assistant might consider pursuing a career path as a dental nurse.
Who Should NOT Consider a Dental Nurse Career Path?
Nursing and any healthcare is a calling to help patients in their time of pain, illness, or medical need.
Those who are impatient, do not like oral healthcare or do not have a genuine desire to help patients and the dentist should not consider a dental nurse career path.
Is it Hard to Become a Dental Nurse?
It is not hard to become a dental nurse if you have the drive and motivation to go through school and the rigorous training in dental school.
Additionally, a qualified dental nurse will be required to go through national examining board or, in the UK, general dental council assessments and exams.
Dental nurses typically gain skill and experience working in a dental practice along with their education.
What Do I Need to Become a Dental Nurse?
Requirements for Becoming a Dental Nurse
Dental nurses generally have an associate’s degree in dental hygiene or a related field.
They must also pass board certification exams with their state.
Dental nurses and hygienists must undergo extensive training to work in the field.
What Skills Does a Dental Nurse Need?
Dental nurses work with patients one-on-one to help them maintain oral health, so interpersonal communication skills are important.
Dental nurses should also be able to learn all of the anatomy of the mouth, teeth, and gums and should become familiar with the equipment, tools, and dental devices.
What Education Does a Dental Nurse Need?
A dental nurse needs a degree from an accredited school of dental hygiene.
They must also pass the Dental Hygiene National Board Examination.
After graduating, they will need to complete an accredited residency program.
Can You Become a Dental Nurse Without a Degree?
No, oral healthcare professionals like dental nurses and dental hygienists are required to have, at the minimum, an associate’s degree in their field.
What Experience Does a Dental Nurse Need?
A dental nurse must gain experience working in a dentist or orthodontist’s office.
They may start as an assistant and, with education and certification, move up to dental nurse.
Dental Nurse Education & Schooling
Dental Nurse Education & Schooling
What is Taught in a Dental Nurse Course?
A dental hygienist is a healthcare professional specializing in diagnosing and treating oral diseases.
Hence, most classes focus on human biology and anatomy.
Dental hygienist school programs include anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, epidemiology, and risk assessment courses.
Classes are similar to those taken to become a licensed practical nurse or other nursing program.
How Long Does a Dental Nurse Course Take?
A trainee dental nurse can expect to take two years to earn an associate’s degree in dental hygiene from an accredited higher education institution.
There are also rapid-track dental assistant programs that can be completed in a year.
Dental Nurse Education Options and Degree Programs
For more education, there are Bachelor of Science (BS) programs in dental hygiene at universities across the United States.
Also, periodontal schools and programs offer higher education in dental hygiene.
Masters programs and graduate degrees are available for dental professionals and nurses who want to continue post-baccalaureate education.
Schools for Dental Nurse
Many schools of dentistry also offer a BS in dental hygiene, and there are several graduate programs in dental hygiene.
For example, Ohio State University offers an online master’s degree program in dental hygiene.
Become a Dental Nurse
Steps to Become a Dental Nurse
The first step to becoming a dental nurse would be to check out dental hygienist schools in your area.
Look for entry-level dental assistant job openings in a dentist’s office to begin gaining experience in a dental office.
Study and prepare for the accreditation board exam.
Pass your exams and get licensed, and you are ready to be a dental nurse.
Current Career Job Openings
There are job openings in every state for dental hygienists and dental assistants.
Dental nurses are the same as dental hygienists, so look for job openings and set your job alert to dental hygienist.
Dental nurses and dental hygienists are professionals who provide oral health care, including preventive care, cleaning, and treatment of dental problems.
Dental nurses use a variety of instruments to assist a dentist.
In addition, they work with the anatomy of the mouth, so they must undergo extensive education and training.
Dental nursing is a good career path for anyone who wants to help patients with their oral health but does not want to go to school for as long as a dentist.