Are Dental Nurses In Demand In The UK?
Whether you’re considering a career in dental nursing or seeking insights to advance within the field, having an understanding of the profession and its demand is crucial.
We’ll assess the feasibility of building a successful career in dental nursing, addressing both challenges and opportunities in the demand for dental nurses in the UK.
This blog aims to offer guidance on finding the right training for a fulfilling dental nurse career, ensuring you make informed decisions for your professional growth.
A trainee dental nurse holding a human teeth model.
Are Dental Nurse Jobs Competitive In The UK?
In 2021, there was a growing demand for dental nurses, which meant that dental nurses were in demand in the UK.
Now in 2024, the Society of British Dental Nurses (SBDN) has undertaken their annual survey regarding retention rates for dental nurses. They concluded the following:
In August 2023 there were 59,772 dental nurses on the register.
This was an increase in August 2021 and August 2022.
In 2021 the loss of experienced dental nurses was 4,031. There was however, a gain of 4,595 new dental nurses, so overall there was an additional 564 dental nurses that year.
Among the most common reasons for leaving the profession, ‘lack of professional growth in chosen practice’ was often cited.
The main issues that dental nurses face in the UK, such as remuneration compared to the cost of living crisis, are also seen internationally.
The main issues surrounding the retention of dental nurses are also shared by those in similar nursing jobs in the UK, such as Veterinary Nurses.
A post-it note showing retention strategies.
From these statistics, it can be reasonable to conclude that dental nurse jobs are not overly competitive, nor uncompetitive, to any extreme levels. From the above findings, the below recommendations can be made:
Find a dental nurse training course that also offers CPD and professional growth.
Consider carefully how dental nursing would suit you as a career.
Research the dental nurse salary in the UK, and assess it against your cost of living, and other career options.
Consider the loss of dental nurses in recent years compared to the loss of workers in other career options for you.
It can be daunting to enter an industry that is over-saturated and competitive. The last thing that anyone wants after finishing their studies is to find that they are unable to get a job in their chosen field due to too much competition.
Similarly, it is a huge warning sign if an industry is facing most of its workforce leaving. This can be an indicator that the pay, conditions, or both are not sufficient, and it may not be an ideal time for you to pursue this chosen career.
Since dental nursing is currently maintaining a positive balance between retention and demand, now seems like an ideal time to enter the workforce.
What Are The Most Popular Dental Nurse Jobs?
The most popular role in dental nursing is that of a band 3 or 4 dental nurse. This role requires excellent organizational skills and a comprehensive understanding of dental procedures.
Orthodontic dental nursing is also a popular dental nursing field in the UK. Orthodontic Dental Nurses specialize in supporting orthodontists in the treatment of misalignments and bite issues. They assist with procedures like fitting braces and provide guidance to patients on orthodontic care.
Two mechanical wheels showing the relationship between recruitment and retention.
In addition to these, dental sedation nurse positions, which involve assisting in sedation during dental procedures, are highly sought after.
Overall, the popularity of dental nurse jobs lies in the diversity of roles, each contributing uniquely to the efficient functioning of a dental practice.
What Are The Dental Nurse Pay and Conditions Like?
A dental hygienist at a modern dental clinic.
Dental nurse salaries in the UK span from £21,730 to £32,934. This can vary according to experience:
Entry-Level: Qualified dental nurses’ basic salary starts between band 3 and band 4 of the NHS Agenda for charge.
Mid-Level (1-4 years of experience): Senior dental nurses can go up to band 5 or higher of the NHS Agenda for charge.
Salaries can also fluctuate depending on the area within the UK. For example, London or other major cities with a higher cost of living pay dental nurses higher basic salaries compared to areas in the North, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. In London, salaries can be 10-15% higher on average.
Most dental nurses in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. While some dental nurses may find working in an NHS hospital more stressful than a dental practice, others may prefer the fast-paced nature of the work, and no two days ever being the same.
Is it Easy to Build a Successful Dental Nurse Career?
Success in a dental nurse career is often linked to continuous professional development. Participating in relevant workshops or courses and pursuing additional certifications can lead to increased pay and employability.
Below are the courses available for you to progress through your career, and improve your salary:
- Basic life support– £50
- Dental impressions taking– £150
- Fluoride varnish applications– £80
- Dental radiography– £500
- Oral Health– £500
- Dental implant nursing– £500
- Dental sedation nursing– £595
In addition, you can become a senior dental nurse or a head dental nurse, where you supervise others and manage the practice on a daily basis. Leading and organizing are more important attributes in this role.
You can become a dental nurse tutor and help train new dental nurse students if you want to share your knowledge. Educating the next generation of dental nurses can be incredibly rewarding.
Why Dental Nurses Are Critical for Successful Dental Practises
Dental nurses play a critical role in the success of dental practices.
Firstly, dental nurses provide vital support to dentists during patient procedures. Dental nurses are trained at preparing instruments, maintaining sterilization protocols, and anticipating the needs of the dentist.
Dental nurses specialise in patient care. They often serve as the initial point of contact, easing anxieties, explaining procedures, and creating a positive experience for the patient. Beyond clinical duties, dental nurses manage appointment schedules, maintain patient records, and handle administrative tasks.
Find The Training That is Right For You To Get the Most Out Of Your Dental Nurse Career
We understand that choosing your career path is a huge decision, and not one to be made impulsively. We have comprehensive guides to help you through this process, to support you before you even decide to join us.