How much does a dental nurse make? (Ways to increase salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're interested in dentistry and nursing, then pursuing a career as a dental nurse might be the right thing for you. Dental nurses provide dentists or orthodontists with the support necessary for their day-to-day duties, including performing dental procedures like extractions. Reviewing how much dental nurses earn and what the job entails can help you decide if you're interested in this career. In this article, we answer, 'How much does a dental nurse make?', discuss ways to increase salary in this role, explore common duties of dental nurses and explain how to enter this field.

How much does a dental nurse make?

Learning the answer to, 'How much does a dental nurse make?' can be helpful for you if you're considering pursuing a career in healthcare or dental care and want to see which roles meet your financial expectations. The national average salary of a dental nurse is £11.46 per hour. This means that dental nurses who've just started in the field are likely to make more than this amount, but they can usually expect higher compensation once they fully complete training and start working as independent employees.

Increasing your salary as a dental nurse

If you're an aspiring dental nurse but the average salary in this profession fails to meet your compensation expectations, there are some things you can do to improve your earning potential in the role. Consider these ways of increasing your salary as a dental nurse:

Working for a private employer

As a dental nurse, you have the option to work for either a private or public employer. Working at a public clinic or hospital has many advantages, but if earning a more attractive salary is your goal, you may have better chances of accomplishing it when you decide to apply for a role at a private hospital or practice. What's great about working in the private sector is that it can often give you a chance to work with more advanced technologies, which can be an attractive benefit for dental nurses who aspire to explore interesting professional growth opportunities.

Improving your qualifications

By improving your qualifications, you strengthen your skill set and can offer more to a potential employer. For example, you can join the British Association of Dental Nurses, which is an organisation that offers dental nurses additional professional training. Once your skills and knowledge become attractive enough to employers, they're more likely to offer you a higher salary. To appear as a highly qualified candidate, it's also helpful to present your additional skills, such as leadership and management skills, during a job interview.

Related: 10 essential dental nurse skills

Choosing a specialisation

Selecting and pursuing a specialisation is another great way in which dental nurses can improve their earning potential. By concentrating on one area of dental nursing, you can increase your chances of becoming an expert in a narrow field and, as a result, more employers may want to work with you. Here are some specialisations in dental nursing:

  • dental sedation nursing

  • dental implant nursing

  • radiography

  • orthodontic nursing

  • oral health education

Asking for a raise

The more you work for one employer, the more valuable you can become to them. This is because throughout these years you become familiar with their company culture, preferences and workplace processes. When you've worked in one job for a while and you feel you've grown professionally, you may consider asking your employer for a raise. To do it properly, it's necessary that you learn to present your strengths to them in a way that can help you notice the value of you staying at their company.

Read more: How to ask for a pay rise (with script examples)

Relocating

Typically, there are more private hospitals and dental clinics in bigger cities. Typically, this means that as a dental nurse, you can explore better job opportunities when you choose to relocate to a large city, like London or Manchester. Although living in these places often requires that you pay more for rent or transportation, many professionals prefer this lifestyle, as it offers them more attractive advancement and networking opportunities that they wouldn't have access to when still living in a smaller town.

Work environment of a dental nurse

Many dental nurses are full-time employees, which means they work around 37 to 40 hours per week. They can also work on a rota and some weekend or evening work might be possible. Dental nurses often choose to work at dental practices, health centres or in a public or private hospital. If you're interested in choosing a less conventional career path as a dental nurse, you can also consider serving in the armed forces where you'd work with a dentist to provide dental services to soldiers.

Related: How long is a dental hygienist programme? (with FAQ)

Common responsibilities of a dental nurse

Dental nurses can have different responsibilities depending on their workplace and specialisation. If you're an aspiring nurse and want to know what a general dental nurse does, here are some common responsibilities in this role:

  • greeting customers, explaining procedures to them

  • preparing instruments and the area for dental visits

  • disinfecting materials and tools

  • managing appointments

  • recording information about patients

  • assisting dentists during dental treatment procedures

  • preparing fillings and other materials

  • processing X-rays

How to become a dental nurse

If you're thinking about becoming a dental nurse, it's helpful to learn about the ways in which you can pursue this career path. There are three main paths to become a dental nurse and at the end of each path, you'd have the possibility to register with the General Dental Council as a professional dental nurse. Consider one of these three ways:

  1. Obtain a formal degree: Many dental nurses successfully enter the field through completing a relevant university or college degree, after which they obtain a Level 3 diploma in dental nursing and a T level in health. These courses allow them to combine full-time study with work experience opportunities.

  2. Complete an apprenticeship: Another way to become a dental nurse is through an apprenticeship in dental nursing, which allows you to start working in the field full-time while continuing your education and earning a regular salary. It's also possible to complete this apprenticeship in the armed forces.

  3. Find an entry-level job in dental nursing: If you're not interested in obtaining a formal degree or completing an apprenticeship, you can simply work your way up to a dental nurse role. To do that, consider becoming a dental trainee first and studying for a private dental nurse qualification after hours.

Related:

  • How to write an effective dental nurse apprentice CV

  • How to become a dental nurse

Other careers in dentistry

If you're passionate about dentistry, there are many interesting careers to consider before you create your final career plan. Here are some other jobs in dental care with average salaries and duties:

1. Dentist

National average salary: £70,338 per year

Primary duties: On a day-to-day basis, dentists examine patients' teeth, diagnose their dental problems and educate them on their oral hygiene. This includes teaching them how to properly floss and brush their teeth. Dentists regularly perform various dental treatments, such as fillings and teeth extractions. At work, they often use advanced technologies to examine X-rays, develop treatment plans and visualise how a patient's face might change after the treatment.

Related: How long does it take to become a dentist (types and salary)

2. Orthodontist

National average salary: £97,212 per year

Primary duties: Orthodontists diagnose, examine and treat abnormalities in the structure of the mouth and jaw. They work with patients, but they also do many things independently, including preparing dental devices that help realign or straighten teeth. When working with unusual cases, orthodontists may work with surgeons to plan jaw surgeries and develop extensive treatment plans. Often, the aim of this is to improve the quality of a patient's life by changing their bone structure.

Related: How to become an orthodontist (with duties and salary)

3. Dental hygienist

National average salary: £30.83 per hour

Primary duties: Dental hygienists help patients with the regular care of their mouth and teeth. They may work alongside dentists, for example, helping them take X-rays and assess patients' oral health. Hygienists often perform less invasive procedures on their own. For example, they remove tartar and stains from teeth.

Related: How to become a dental hygienist (with FAQ)

4. Periodontist

National average salary: £61,781 per year

Primary duties: Periodontists are dental professionals who specialise in gum diseases and dental implants. They prevent, diagnose and treat periodontal diseases, such as chronic inflammatory disease. Some procedures that periodontists often perform include laser treatments, dental crown lengthening and excess gum tissue removal. They often put together and instal dental implants to replace patients' teeth.

Please note that none of the companies, organisations and institutions are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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