Dental Nurses are Essential to quality care

Dental nurses are part and parcel of a well-functioning clinic, not least from a legal point of view, but have you ever stopped to think just how vital they are to the dental profession?

dental nurse and dentist

The dental nurse and the dentist

As SmileWisdom Specialist advisor, Dr Michael Sultan, says, “Dental nursing has become a profession that the dental industry simply could not live without.”

A good working relationship between the dentist and dental nurse is essential to the smooth running of a practice. The skill of the dental nurse is to work symbiotically alongside dentists and hygienists, even being one step ahead in pre-empting their needs and requirements for each treatment. During research conducted for a 1996 British Dental Journal article, “All dentists said that an efficient and friendly nurse acted to greatly reduce the day to day stress of practice.” (Mindak, 2017)

The dental nurse and the practice

An article in the British Dental Journal in 1999 commented that “Dental nurses are one of the most important groups within the dental team. They assist the dentist throughout the day and may act as advocates for the patient, as well as being an integral part of the dentist’s clinical regime. It would seem that the work of dental nurses is essential for a successful general practice.” This still rings true today and even more so since the emergence of COVID-19. Dental nurses are integral to the healthy and safe running of a dental practice. As listed in the General Dental Council (GDC) scope of practice, ‘preparing and maintaining the clinical environment, equipment …and implementing effective infection prevention and control procedures are key components of the dental nurse role. The organisation is key within any dental practice which is where a good dental nurse comes in, their multi-tasking skills are second to none!

dental nurse and patient
dental nurse and patient

The dental nurse and the patient

“Patients judge the dental service they receive by the interaction with the service providers – the dentist and his or her staff” (Mindak, 2017)

After the receptionist, the dental nurse is often the first point of contact for the patient within practice. Studies show that opinions are formed in the first few seconds of meeting someone and so how you greet your patient as a dental nurse may have an impact not only on the patient’s treatment but their opinion of the practice as a whole. This is especially important in a post-pandemic world where patients’ visits to the dentist may have lapsed or they’ve become fearful of being back in practice. Dental nurses are often seen as a confidante by the patient, someone they can trust and will sometimes open up to more than say the dentist. A good dental nurse has the skill to be able to deal with many different personalities, putting people at ease with a friendly and approachable manner. Happy patients equal a productive practice!

Do you think you have what it takes to develop these skills? Click here to find out more about training as a dental nurse with SmileWisdom.

Click here to find out more about NEBDN postgraduate certificates with SmileWisdom.


Gibson, B., Freeman, R. & Ekins, R. The role of the dental nurse in general practice. Br Dent J 186, 213–215 (1999).

Mindak, M. Service quality in dentistry: the role of the dental nurseBDJ Team 4, 17177 (2017).