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Scope of practice: dental nurses

BDJ Team volume 5, Article number: 18103 (2018) | Download Citation

An up-to-date focus on the scope of practice of one group of dental care professionals (DCPs), as described by the General Dental Council (GDC).

Dental nurses

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Dental nurses are registered dental professionals who provide clinical and other support to registrants and patients. As a dental nurse, you can undertake the following if you are trained, competent and indemnified:

  • Prepare and maintain the clinical environment, including the equipment

  • Carry out infection prevention and control procedures to prevent physical, chemical and microbiological contamination in the surgery or laboratory

  • Record dental charting and oral tissue assessment carried out by other registrants

  • Prepare, mix and handle dental bio-materials

  • Provide chairside support to the operator during treatment

  • Keep full, accurate and contemporaneous patient records

  • Prepare equipment, materials and patients for dental radiography

  • Process dental radiographs

  • Monitor, support and reassure patients

  • Give appropriate patient advice

  • Support the patient and their colleagues if there is a medical emergency

  • Make appropriate referrals to other health professionals

Dental nurses on the GDC register (March 2018)

Additional skills dental nurses could develop include:

  • Further skills in oral health education and oral health promotion

  • Assisting in the treatment of patients who are under conscious sedation

  • Further skills in assisting in the treatment of patients with special needs

  • Further skills in assisting in the treatment of orthodontic patients

  • Intra- and extra-oral photography

  • Pouring, casting and trimming study models

  • Shade taking

  • Tracing cephalographs.

Dental nurses by UK region (March 2018)

Additional skills carried out on prescription from, or under the direction of, another registrant:

  • Taking radiographs

  • Placing rubber dam

  • Measuring and recording plaque indices

  • Removing sutures after the wound has been checked by a dentist

  • Constructing occlusal registration rims and special trays

  • Repairing the acrylic component of removable appliances

  • Applying topical anaesthetic to the prescription of a dentist

  • Constructing mouthguards and bleaching trays to the prescription of a dentist

  • Constructing vacuum-formed retainers to the prescription of a dentist

  • Taking impressions to the prescription of a dentist or a CDT (where appropriate).

Dental nurses can apply fluoride varnish either on prescription from a dentist or direct as part of a structured dental health programme.

Table 1: Dental care professionals with more than one title (March 2018)

Dental nurses do not diagnose disease or treatment plan. All other skills are reserved to one or more of the other registrant groups.

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