A day in the life of a dental nurse

  • June - 02 - 2022
  • SDN

A day in the life of a dental nurse

We are often asked what it is like to work as a dental nurse. Here a SDN tutor, Tracy, who is a member of a busy dental practice in North West England reflects on a typical working day.

Tracy gives us an insight into the varied nature of the responsibilities of a Dental Nurse and how worthwhile the work is as it makes a real difference to the quality of life of so many patients of all ages and backgrounds.

Each day is different for me working as a dental nurse, travelling to work in the morning I start to think about what patients I will meet and how I will help them today.

Once arriving at work, a brief catch-up and some laughter with my work colleagues then I change into my dental uniform, look into the mirror to check my appearance is smart and smile J

To start my morning session dental nursing, I firstly switch on all the surgery equipment to make sure it is working correctly, then begin to prepare the surgery for the day.  All the surgery surfaces are wiped over with disinfectant as cross-infection is a main priority for me. I check what patients and their treatments are booked in for the day.

Next, I move to the decontamination room, switching on all equipment and begin to run the daily tests to ensure that our practice sterilization procedures are working correctly and recording the results for this.

The dentist I am working with today arrives and we discuss the day ahead.

We both are now back in the surgery and our clinical day will now start.  Our first patient is an elderly lady who needs a filling in one of her lower teeth. I prepare our PPE, the dental instruments and materials we will need for this and go to reception waiting area to bring her into the surgery. ‘Im so nervous, I hate the dentist’ she said, I reassured her to try not to worry and then directed our conversation to something totally different to distract her from any negative thoughts. During her treatment I continually asked her if she was comfortable and the dentist explained all of her treatment process as it was carried out.  At the end of her appointment, she was thanking us for our kindness and how pleased she was with her treatment as she left…. This is so nice to hear from a patient as it really makes me think that I have done my role well. 

Now time to tidy the used PPE, instruments and materials away ensuring all are placed or disposed of in the correct manner and wipe down all surfaces once again with disinfectant.  Next, I begin to prepare for the next patient and onto the rest of the day……more patients young and old, different treatments, working with different members of my team – what a varied role each day I have, this is why I enjoy working as a dental nurse.

We asked Tracy some questions about her career in dental nursing and to reflect upon her working experience:

 Q: What qualities are needed to be an outstanding dental nurse?

Tracy: You need someone who is organized, approachable and of a friendly caring nature

Q: What aspect of your work do you find most satisfying?

 Tracy: Helping anxious patients to try and overcome their fears of dentistry

Q: What are the opportunities for career development?

Tracy: There are opportunities to progress to senior roles such as practice manager or to practice specialisms such as sedation dental nursing or become a dental hygienist amongst other roles.

Q: Have you been involved in any emergency situations?

 Tracy: Yes, many times - patients with seizures, fainting and suspected stroke symptoms are recurring examples.

Q: What has been your most memorable day working as a dental nurse?

Tracy: Assisting a very elderly female patient who was having full mouth teeth extractions and was extremely anxious - very lengthy appointment but she was so appreciative of the help I gave to her.


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