What are the Different Types of Dental Nursing Jobs?

Laura M. Sands

Dental nursing jobs include those based in a dentist’s office or in a physician’s office. Many jobs are offered on a full-time basis, but part-time dental nurse jobs are also common, and it is not unusual for a dental nurse to work more than one job. Dental nursing jobs primarily consist of assisting a dentist in various procedures within the dentist’s office, but some dental nurses work in other settings, such as hospitals, prisons or the armed forces.

A dental assistant must be familiar with a variety of dental equipment and tools.
A dental assistant must be familiar with a variety of dental equipment and tools.

In the United Kingdom, dental nursing jobs do not necessarily require a formal degree. Most jobs, however, do require nurses to be experienced and to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC), which sets high standards for all dental professionals. In order to become a registered member of the GDC, dental nurses must show proof of completed training at an approved institution.

In the United States, dental nursing jobs include dental assistants or dental hygienists. Dental assistant jobs require the performance of a variety of different tasks that help a dentist, as well as the dentist’s patient. Some of these tasks include arranging and sterilizing instruments used in patient care procedures, handing instruments to a dentist during a procedure, working to assure a patient’s comfort, keeping accurate patient records and providing detailed self-care instructions to patients following a surgery or other procedure. Some assistants working in dental nursing jobs in the United States have not been formally trained, but have profited from on-the-job training, although many have opted for specialized training from an accredited school before applying for work.

American dental nursing jobs offered to a dental hygienist differ from those offered to a dental assistant in that dental hygienists must be trained and licensed by the state where the hygienist will work. Dental hygienists may give oral examinations using tools necessary for cleaning, assessing and photographing the teeth. In some states, these types of dental nurse jobs also allow hygienists to administer anesthesia to patients before undergoing oral surgery.

Dental nursing jobs offered in settings outside of a traditional dentist’s office typically require the same duties required of dental nurses, assistants and hygienists. The primary difference in dental nursing jobs offered elsewhere, however, is the actual work location. Some such jobs may be offered in more institutional settings such as prisons or large hospitals, while other jobs may require nurses to work in a military setting.

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