Suzie Sonnabend discusses what progression possibilities are out there for dental nurses.

Dental nursing is a dynamic and rewarding profession that offers numerous opportunities for career advancement. Beyond the initial role of providing chairside assistance to clinicians, dental nurses can explore various avenues for professional growth and development. Dillon Booth, here at Kingswood Parks Clinics, is a prime example of pursuing this effectively and efficiently.

Dillon started a career in hairdressing at the age of 16, qualifying in level two and three, as well as training in specialised areas of hairdressing. Only after visiting our private dental clinic whilst considering options for teeth whitening himself, did he become rather obsessed with the science and anatomy aspects of dentistry. The more he learned the more he realised he felt a genuine longing to get involved in the industry, and soon took the risk of moving away from what he knew, to start a new apprenticeship.

Dillon Booth.

Dillon Booth.

Education and specialisation

Dental nurses can pursue further education to expand their knowledge and skills in specific areas of dentistry. This may include obtaining advanced qualifications such as diplomas or degrees in dental nursing, dental hygiene, or dental therapy. Specialisation in areas like orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, or implantology can open up new career pathways and enhance job prospects. For Dillon, he initially opted for further training in both implant and sedation nursing. He currently nurses for the clinical lead the majority of his working week, mostly performing a lot of composite bonding smile makeovers and nursing in implant and sedation appointments. This ensures his role remains diverse whilst allowing him to work with different clinicians and feel a sense of job satisfaction, particularly when meeting nervous patients or those requiring additional support. As an employee, these certifications not only demonstrate expertise but also increase Dillon’s earning potential, and value as a dental nurse.

Professional certifications and continuing education

Continuing education is essential for staying abreast of advancements in dental practices and maintaining professional competence. Dillon has always had a passion for skin care and skin treatments, therefore facial aesthetics was an obvious development option. Whilst doing his dental nurse training, Dillon had already begun his training in less invasive skin treatments, and once qualified progressed on to training in advanced anti- wrinkle injection, dermal filler and thread lift procedure training.

Dillon initially supported and worked alongside our clinical director in their skin clinic, however, for some time now Dillon has had his own skin clinic every week; performing a wide range of treatments and developing his own patient list. With the correct training, experience and vision, having your own clinic is a great opportunity for any dental nurse.

Clinical leadership roles

Experienced dental nurses can also transition into clinical leadership roles within dental practices. These positions may involve supervisory responsibilities, such as managing other dental nurses, coordinating patient care, and overseeing advanced clinical procedures. Leadership roles allow dental nurses to contribute to the strategic direction of the practice while fostering teamwork and ensuring high standards of patient care.

At Kingswood Parks Clinics, we aim to empower all our dental nurses, giving them support to take ownership of a range of responsibilities and tasks. In particular, Dillon has fulfilled the role of decontamination lead, maintenance of the dental equipment and stock management. Dillon enjoys having a mix of daily tasks to create variety, and which has also had a positive effect on his time management skills.

Dillon’s abilities from hairdressing still shine through regularly – especially his people skills, effectively communicating with patients and colleagues and working well with the team whilst also helping boost morale. This is reflected in patient retention as well as comments and reviews about Dillon himself.

Teaching and training

Dental nurses with extensive experience and knowledge can also explore opportunities in teaching and training. They can become clinical educators or lecturers in dental schools, vocational training centres, or continuing education programs. By sharing their expertise with aspiring dental professionals, they contribute to the development of the next generation of dental nurses and enhance the quality of dental education.

Dillon has always been willing to support trainees and has found that he is a natural teacher. With Dillon’s methodical and empathetic approach, colleagues have benefited from his knowledge and experience.

Research and development

For dental nurses interested in advancing the field of dentistry, involvement in research and development can be a fulfilling career path. They can participate in clinical trials, contribute to academic research projects, or collaborate with industry partners on product development. Engaging in research not only expands knowledge but also drives innovation and improves patient outcomes.

Entrepreneurship and practice ownership

Some dental nurses may aspire towards entrepreneurial ventures, such as starting their own dental practices or clinics. With the necessary business acumen and clinical expertise, they can establish a successful practices that cater to specific patient demographics or offer specialised services. Whilst owning a practice provides autonomy financial rewards, and the opportunity to shape the delivery of dental care in the community, we hope to hang onto Dillon for a long time yet! We will continue to support his personal development, and within the business, and don’t doubt Dillon’s growthwill advance further over the coming years. Hopefully, Dillon will become more familiar to others as he continues his mission to inspire people to protect their skin.

The progression opportunities for dental nurses are diverse and plentiful, allowing individuals to tailor their career paths according to their interests, strengths, and aspirations. Whether through further education, specialisation, leadership roles, or entrepreneurial endeavours, dental nurses can continually advance their careers while making meaningful contributions to the field of dentistry. By embracing lifelong learning and seizing opportunities for growth, dental nurses can chart a rewarding and fulfilling professional journey.