Dental nurses work as part of a dental team in a variety of clinical and non clinical settings. The term Dental nurse has a defined meaning within the UK. From 30 July 2008, all Dental nurses in the UK must be registered with the General Dental Council to continue working legally.
Previously, no academic qualifications were needed to work as a Dental nurse in the UK. The vast majority of Dental nurses began their careers with in house training (under the direct supervision of a senior Dental nurse or Dentist). However employers now, including hospitals and the community dental service, now require all Dental nurses to have obtained recognized qualification, following the GDC (general dental council) new register for dental care professionals.
Qualifications recognized by the GDC for registration after 30 July 2008 are:
The National Certificate awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN)
NVQ level 3 in Oral Healthcare
SVQ Level 3 in Oral Healthcare
Certificate of Proficiency in Dental Nursing
Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing–1 year programme
Dental hospitals and further education colleges run courses on a full-time and part-time basis. The Certificate of Higher Education in Dental Nursing previously only offered at Portsmouth University, is now also available at Teeside University.
Most Dental nurses, who start their career in general dental practice, have to study in the evenings or on day release, this requires a lot of self discipline.
A new 'Certificate in Dental Radiography' that allows dental nurses to take dental x ray in compliance with current legislation has been launched. The qualification is awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN) and has been developed with the help of the College of Radiographers, the British Dental Association and the British Society of Dental and Maxillofacial Radiology. It is also supported by the Dental Nurse Standards and Training Advisory Board of the General Dental Council.
Candidates for the qualification must be trained in both the theory and practice of taking radiographs. Assessment is by a multiple-choice examination and completion of a Record of Experience in taking a range of common radiographs. The BDA is currently developing a web-based course that demonstrates the practice and teaches the theory required for the Certificate. It will be launched at the 2005 British Dental Conference and Exhibition in Glasgow in May.
The first candidates will be able to take the written examination in June 2005 with subsequent assessments taking place twice a year in centres around the UK.