Joyce Booker worked as a dental nurse for 20 years, in her guest blog, she looks back at her training.

I left school at the age of 15, three months before my 16th birthday. I had a secondary modern education. My school reports were good in Maths, English, and Biology. I was half way through a Pitmans Course in shorthand and typing when I left school. With more practice, I could have increased my speeds, however, I neither owned a typewriter, nor wished to work in an office.

My dream was to study nursing.

Aunty JOyce

Looking for a job with no qualifications can be difficult. I was lucky to find a job with good prospects as a trainee nurse in a dental practice.

I was offered the chance to study one day a week in a London Hospital’s Dental school, achieving a qualification at the end of the course.  At the time, it was not compulsory for chair side assistants to be qualified, but you could progress to better positions if you did have that all important piece of paper.

Working in a health care setting and earning money was important to me. The reason I had left school early was a financial decision.

The company supplied me with uniform dresses, but I had to buy my own shoes.

I was required to work one month on probation, so that either party could opt out if we were not happy.  Eventually I signed a two-year contract. The company paid my tuition fees to the London Dental Hospital, with the understanding I should pay them back over time.

I worked in the dental surgery four days a week and one day a week I worked in the hospital and attended lectures. The NHS education was excellent, providing me with knowledge and experience in all forms of dentistry.

As a trainee, my wages were very low, but, when I got my Dental Nurse qualification, my wages increased. I attended an X- Ray course at Kodak, adding to my skills, I could develop X-Ray films and mount them. The dental technician taught me to cast models from the impressions, taken for dental appliances.

I enjoyed learning new skills. It was more interesting and gave me a real sense of achievement. By the time, I was 18 years old I had moved to London, working for the same company. The dentists in this practice, were doing more varied and interesting things to improve people’s dental health. Two of the dentists were getting higher degrees, working for their Doctor of Dentistry qualifications. They told me ” the more letters you have behind your name the higher your fees.” They were From Australia and had come to London to do further training.

The emphasis in the London practice, was on preventive measures to save clients teeth.

Teaching good oral hygiene.

Treating teeth with Fluoride and fissure sealants protected them.

Root canal treatment, crowning teeth instead of extracting them.

Making dental bridges to fill spaces instead of dentures gave a much better outcome.

Tact and discretion, are important qualities in a Dental Nurse as well as a calm disposition. Meeting and greeting people who may be in pain or nervous, making them feel more at ease and giving reassurance whenever necessary.

The Nurse is responsible for ensuring a high standard of cleanliness and control of Infection.

You will be working closely with the dentist and the client so it’s important to pay attention to your own personal hygiene.

The nurse needs regular updates and training to respond to medical emergencies such as a patient choking, fainting, or having a heart attack. A qualified Dental Nurse could go on to become a Dental Hygienist or work with Specialists like Orthodontists.

I had twenty happy years working as a Dental Nurse. It was truly rewarding to see the difference repair and replacing broken teeth made to people and their appearance.

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