​It has been more than two years since I took over the editorship of Dental Nursing and, in that time, have had my eyes opened as to just how multifaceted the role of a dental nurse can be.

With a brief to create a magazine that champions dental nursing as a career rather than ‘just a job’, we have featured in its pages many dental nurses who have embraced this principle with gusto – seeking new avenues, expanding their duties and working in challenging environments.

According to Fiona Ellwood, patron of the Society of British Dental Nurses, and one of our much-valued editorial board members: ‘Those dental nurses with higher-level skills feel better equipped and more valued and, in turn, more motivated to stay in the role.’

Whilst we’ve yet to see a huge transition in the way the profession, the healthcare system – and, indeed, the wider public – view the role, there has been a migration towards a more professional approach to the training and development of dental nurses, including the introduction of the Foundation degree (FdSc), which ultimately can only mean a more secure and respected position in the team.

If dentistry follows healthcare as a whole, it could even see the eventual creation of a ‘dental nurse practitioner’, perhaps with a wider scope of practice and even prescribing rights.

Nick Barker is principal at Oracle Dental Group where he runs dental nurse-led clinics. In an article in Dental Nursing in October 2016, he said he believed that, ‘in an ever-evolving dental world, the dental nurse practitioner – at present, an aspirational title – is already providing preventative clinical care within dentistry’.

In essence, if you are offering oral health education, measuring and recording plaque indices, applying fluoride varnish under prescription, taking impressions, pouring, casting and trimming study models and taking radiographs, then you are meeting the criteria.

Back then, Nick commented: ‘In line with the reasoning set out above, a dental nurse practitioner can perform treatments that would otherwise take up the dentist’s time with limited remuneration, allowing for a more frequent preventive messages that will likely enhance patient compliance and, at the same time, hopefully develop a more motivated dental team. In my experience, many patients also appreciate the additional time spent and comment favourably.’

In our endeavours to ensure a great monthly read, we also strive to include valuable learning experiences – and, thanks to our expanded editorial board (we focus on the new team in the May issue), we have some exciting ideas for you.

Additionally, with the enhanced CPD scheme beginning for DCPs in August, we are putting together an experienced panel – all experts in their field – to peer review our CPD articles so that we deliver a guaranteed high-end leaning experience to our readers month in month out. Here’s to an exciting future!

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