Becoming a Dental Nurse

Dental Nurses provide chairside support to Dentists across the full range of treatment provision. They play a key role in the patient support aspects of the job and have responsibility for infection control and health and safety in the workplace.

To be a Dental Nurse you will need to have excellent communication skills, a caring nature and be highly organised. Dental Nurses need to be friendly and approachable, reliable, calm, and be flexible enough to respond to unexpected situations as they arise.

NEBDN offer two types of qualifications that lead to General Dental Council registration; the Apprenticeship as one product and the National Diploma as the other. Through government Apprenticeship funding, Learners can do a fee-free Apprenticeship removing the need for trainees to financially contribute to their course, or as an alternative, the National Diploma for trainee Dental Nurses with flexible study/work hours. For more information, click here.


Exam fees

Provider fees for exams or course tuition will differ pending which Provider you select and the training method chosen. As your contract is with the Provider themselves, they will charge you directly for any exam or administration fees to NEBDN. For a list of Provider fees, please visit their website or visit our Provider Search page.

What is a Provider?

We currently work with over 110+ accredited Providers across the UK and Ireland. The Providers are the ones who teach our qualifications to Learners and we support with exams as the Awarding Organisation.

How to choose a Provider?

NEBDN accredit a number of Providers across the UK and Ireland. The courses and Providers vary greatly, and choosing one to suit you can prove complex. The Provider tips document provides key points to consider when choosing the Provider that is right for you.

How do I contact a Provider?

If you are interested in becoming a Dental Nurse and taking the NEBDN National Diploma qualification, please click here to contact a Provider for details on pricing and curriculum. We advise you search for more than one Provider to get an idea of what they offer that best suites you, as some Providers also offer online and distance learning courses.

Routes to training

There are three main routes to becoming a Dental Nurse; (a) finding employment (or a placement) and a Provider, (b) finding a Provider who arranges placements for you or (c) applying for a full-time course at a dental teaching hospital.

a.    The majority of qualified Dental Nurses will have come through this route. You will need to find employment (or a placement) as a trainee Dental Nurse in a dental practice. Once you have employment you can start to look for a training place with a Provider. In most cases your Employer will be able to recommend a Provider as they may have used them before. Don’t worry if the course does not start for a few months, you can keep your employment as a trainee for up to two years.
b.  All Learners must be either in employment or in a clinical environment prior to starting the NEBDN programme. Any Learner who is not in employment or in a clinical environment will not be considered an NEBDN Learner and cannot access the NEBDN National Diploma qualification through our Providers. Search one of our accredited Providers.

If you wish to sit the NEBDN National Diploma in Dental Nursing at the end of your training then you must ensure your Provider is on our accredited list.
c.    Dental teaching hospitals provide all the training and clinical experience in one place but full-time places are limited. Check that the teaching hospital you have selected is one of our accredited Providers and contact them regarding their application process.

 To apply as a Dental Nurse, there is a minimum age requirement of 16 years old.


Once you are on a course of training you can expect it to last between 12 and 24 months. As part of your training you will be required to complete a portfolio of evidence of your competence to perform a range of clinical tasks. This is known as a Record of Experience (RoE) and you will need the support of your Employer to be able to complete this effectively. The course will consist of topics such as Dental Disease, Regional Anatomy, Dental Materials and Radiography, as well as those related to each procedure you are likely to encounter in the workplace.

Training may be delivered in a variety of ways e.g. classroom based, distance learning or online, but this will depend on the Provider you have chosen.

At the end of the course, providing you have satisfactorily completed your RoE, you will be eligible for entry to the NEBDN National Diploma in Dental Nursing examination.

Examination process

The NEBDN examination is in two parts and you will need to pass Part 1 before you can take Part 2.

Part 1 is a written exam consisting of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and extended matching questions (EMQs). Part 2 is a practical examination consisting of a series of objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs). These clinical examinations are designed around simulated situations which you may commonly encounter in the workplace.

Once you have passed Part 2 of the examination you will be awarded the NEBDN National Diploma in Dental Nursing and you will be eligible to apply for registration with the General Dental Council as a qualified Dental Nurse.