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A day in the life of a dental nurse
Published on 18 August 2017 by Natasha Penrose, Dental Nurse, updated on 18 August 2017
6.30 am - Alarm goes off - snooze button is hit once, okay maybe a few times...
6.45 am - I'm finally out of bed and jump in the shower before brushing my teeth (for 2 minutes of course!) then breakfast. Yep! You read that right - avoid brushing straight after eating, that's because digestion begins in the mouth and turns acidic in order to begin breaking down your breakfast, brushing after eating means you're brushing the acid in, damaging your enamel!
7.15 am - Messy bun - check. Lunchbox - check. Scrubs - check. Now I'm heading out the door, jumping in the car and singing along to the radio if there's any traffic.
7.30 - We arrive early in order to set up for the days treatments ahead and perform all our daily clinical logs, check all lab work is back e.g. crowns, bridges, dentures, invisalign, all ready for the days patients.
7.55 am - Quick team meeting - we discuss the day ahead including any possible issues and how to overcome them together. With such a high number of dentists and specialists in the dental department its important for the whole team to communicate effectively so we can continue to provide the best service for our lovely patients.
8.00 am - The first patient of the day is here, once they're checked in by our amazing Patient Services team the patient is ready for us to call them in.
8.00 am - 12.00 pm - The morning session is in full swing. The dentist collects the patient from the waiting area and brings them into the surgery, introducing both the dentist and the nurse. We are lucky enough to be blessed with the time to get to know our patients as individuals and settle them in, we have a quick chat about whats going to be done today along with the opportunity to ask as many questions as they like - the patient is in control of their treatment! Once the appointment is complete the patient is then escorted to the front desk by the dentist or hygienist where follow up appointments can be made. This "patient journey" helps us both comfort the patient during what can be an anxious time and build a trusting relationship - a key in dentistry!
12.00 pm - We've had a busy morning. Between patients all surfaces are thoroughly disinfected and the dentist/hygienist types up the patients notes for the appointment. All instruments used must go through a rigorous decontamination process following strict guidance from our governing HTM-01-05 protocol. Luckily, one of the other nurses in the team has a spare few minutes and we work together, making a start on the cleaning cycles. First instruments are wiped to remove any visible contamination then placed in our washer disinfector - 9 years working with one daily and I still manage to jumble the words up every time and out comes "dishinfector"! After this cycle they're then visibly inspected again, this time under a illuminated magnifier to ensure they're ready for the autoclave sterilisation cycle at a whopping 134°. After this the instruments are pouched and sealed, all sterile for the next use. We call this "cross infection control".
12.30 pm - Time for lunch! Quick sandwich and then we're back at it, not before chomping on a sugar free chewing gum to help rinse off and neutralise the plaque acids already getting to work on my lunch.
1.00 - 7.00 pm - Round two! The afternoon session starts, similar running order to the morning session but with a different variety of dental appointments. A gentleman arrives for an emergency appointment in which we replace his broken filling, ready for him to jet off the next day and enjoy his holiday. We spend a bit of extra time comforting an extremely anxious patient, the thought of having an extraction has been playing on her mind for weeks, with a relaxed atmosphere we are able to give the patient the time she deserves and slowly work together to extract a tooth that's been giving her problems, shes relieved to be out of pain and can't stop thanking us. We see a teary-eyed child who's fallen in the playground, her fractured baby tooth just needs a close eye monitoring it over the coming months, she's done so well and she walks out grinning ear to ear with Charlie one of our One Stop Doctors Bears.
7.00 pm - End of session - Our day treating patients is done. At the end of the day the nurse packs down the surgery, disinfects all surfaces, disposes of any clinical waste and stocks up the surgery for the next day.
8.00 pm - 8.15 pm - Home time - We change out of our clinical scrubs, say our farewells and head off home. Maybe fit in a quick gym class or cook a big family dinner before we get ready for the next day in the clinic.
Shifts are rotated giving us the ability to offer a service from 8 am - 8 pm Monday - Friday as well as Saturday and Sunday clinics to fit in with our patients busy lifestyle. There's many many years of experience between us dental nurses and with work "you either love it or you hate it" but for all of us we are so lucky to love our jobs. Even after all these years, the interesting things you see daily as well as the sense of achievement when you know you've delivered outstanding patient care is what keeps us motivated and loving our time here at One Stop Doctors.
To book a dental appointment, just call 0800 852 1234.