Becoming a Dental Nurse in Ireland

The role of a Dental Nurse

The primary job of a dental nurse is to work alongside and assist a dentist. This involves a variety of tasks, such as preparing and sterilising the instruments and equipment required for surgery, documenting patients’ medical information, processing x-rays and ordering and maintaining stock. Depending on the practice, you may also be involved in administrative duties like arranging appointments and collecting patient fees.

How do I become a Dental Nurse?

In Ireland, there are two programmes currently available to those wishing to train as dental nurses – the Dublin Dental School & Hospital’s Diploma in Dental Nursing, and the National Dental Nurse Training Programme of Ireland’s Certificate of Dental Nursing.

The Diploma in Dental Nursing is a two year full time course located at the Dublin Dental School & Hospital on Trinity College’s campus. The course is split between academic and practical components. Students will be sent on clinical placements at either health service executive dental clinics or general dental practices in the Dublin area. Applications should be made through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Mature students should apply through the CAO and directly to the Trinity College Admissions Office.

The Certificate of Dental Nursing is a one year evening course that can be taken at the Dublin Dental School & Hospital, Cork University Dental School & Hospital and regional centres in Carlow, Galway, Tralee and Waterford. This course is aimed at dental nurses already in employment who wish to obtain a formal Dental Nursing qualification. Students must be employed as a dental nurse for the duration of the course.

Both qualifications will entitle you to register with the Dental Council of Ireland. It is legal to practice dental nursery in Ireland without registering, however registration is required to permit you to take dental radiographs to the prescription of a dentist.

Dental nurses can find employment in a variety of settings, including dental hospitals, general dental surgeries, Health Service Executive dental clinics and specialist surgeries.

Who you will work with

Like any nursing role, the job of a dental nurse requires collaboration with other health care professionals, and also with administrative workers. Depending on your career advancement, you may supervise other dental nurses and students. Dental nurses will have regular working relationships with:

• Dentists
• Receptionists
• Medical suppliers
• Dental hygienists
• Radiographers
• Anaesthetists

Key skills for Dental Nurses

Generally speaking, dental nurses must possess the same attributes as any other nurses, though depending on the specific practice they may also require administrative skills.

• Good organisational skills to remain focussed on several tasks at once
• Compassion and sensitivity to patients’ conditions and an understanding of their apprehensions
• The ability to communicate with dentists, suppliers and patients
• Administrative skills – booking appointments and collecting payments
• Alertness to what the dentist requires of you during surgery
• Commitment to developing your education and skills
• Ability to develop friendly relationships with patients while remaining objective and professional
• Enthusiasm for promoting dental hygiene
• Mental and physical endurance to assist the dentist in performing intricate surgery for extended periods of time

Useful links: Dental Council of Ireland Irish Dental Association Dublin Dental School & Hospital Irish Dental Nurses Association

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