Dental Nursing

By Aedín Dunne - Last update

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Do you have excellent people skills, a methodical approach to work and have confidence in your ability? If you are friendly, patient, calm and can work well both under pressure and as part of a team, you have many of the essential skills of a dental nurse. This could be the career you’re looking for!

What is dental nursing?

Dental nursing is assisting and working alongside dentists in providing help during client visits and helping with different procedures. 

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:

  • Dental Nursing – TCD, AIT, LYIT
  • Dental Nursing (PLC) – Drogheda Institute of Further Education, Marino College of Further Education, UCC [Direct Entry]

Studying dental nursing in college

There are both PLC courses and undergraduate courses available in the area of dental nursing. PLC courses will usually be 1-2 years long and give you a strong foundation in the course to progress to undergraduate level should you wish. Undergraduate courses will be 2 years in length. All courses will give you the opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge needed in the area. 

In the first year of any undergraduate course, students gain an introduction to the area, focus on the basics and gain an insight as to what is ahead of them throughout the following three years of the course. Examples of modules you will cover in your first year include Chemistry, Biology, Dental Professional Practice, Learning and Development for Higher Education, Dental Anatomy, Physiology and oral Pathology, Clinical Dentistry and Dental Materials.

Your second year will introduce you to more complex areas and may include modules such as  Dental Pharmaceuticals, Behavioral Science for Dental Nursing, Dental Disease and Infection Control, Clinical Dentistry, Dental Materials, Legal, Health and Safety, Medical Emergencies, Finance and Accounting.

In both years of your course you will also do practical placement in order to gain experience in the working world as a dental nurse and to allow you to apply your theory practically. 

Some courses may differ in exact course content but they will all mostly cover the same areas. THe above information is based on the Dental Nursing course offered by AIT. Courses may differ in their exact structures also but all essential areas are covered to prepare you for you career as a dental nurse. 

Career Options

The main career choice when finishing your degree in Dental Nursing is to continue on as a dental nurse working with dentists in dental clinics and practices. Employment can be found in general dental practices or in dental and general hospitals in a more specialized capacity.

Many might continue on their studies at postgraduate level to specialise in a specific area or move in a slightly different direction with their career. After working in your role, you might be able to move into research, lecturing or teaching roles in universities and colleges around Ireland if the education side of work interests you. 

To work in this profession there are some skills and qualities that are essential. These include excellent communication skills, interpersonal skills, patience, a caring nature, kind, computer literacy, work well with others and work well under pressure, a desire to help others, stamina, passion, a problem solver, confidence, calm and a methodical approach to work. 

Related Jobs

  • Dental Nurse
  • Dentist
  • Orthodontist
  • General Nurse
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse
  • Paediatric Nurse
  • Intellectual Disability Nursing 
  • Medical Assistant
  • Midwife

Further Study

Visit for more information. 


Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always safest to check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should

include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English. 

Looking at AIT, for example, requirements are grade O6 at ordinary level in five subjects in the Leaving Certificate including a laboratory-based science subject, maths and a language such as English or Irish.

Certain QQI Awards in a relevant area are also accepted. These change from course to course so be sure to research further. 

The highest points required to study Dental Nursing in 2020 were 419 to study in TCD. Points to study the same course in AIT were 298 points while LYIT offered the same course for 223 points. 

Where can I study?

You can explore your options here

Did you know?

  • Teeth are the only part of the human body that cannot repair themselves
  • Tooth enamel is the hardest part of the body
  • On average, people spend about 38 days brushing their teeth throughout their life


Student Grant Scheme 

The work of a dental nurse

All you need to know when becoming a dental nurse

Aedín Dunne

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