Confessions of a dental nurse – part three

Confessions of a dental nurse – part oneEllesse Stacey reveals her final thoughts working as a dental nurse in the third part of her confessions.

Dentists – now, I promise to be nice. But you do need to know that you have some rather annoying habits.

When you leave the X-ray beam all the way across the street as if us nurses have arms the size of Mr Tickle. You think we can reach it and put it back without banging anybody’s head?

The three dreaded words: ‘We’ll do that for you now.’ I’ve probably just put nurses in a mood just by reading those words.

Why do you insist on making us get out stuff that you don’t actually need? I’m all for being organised and I’m always prepared for the worst. But not when I have an RCT kit out and turns out you didn’t need it at all!

When I’m waiting at the computer to start the notes and you think you have all day. But instead I’m just standing there like the last fruit in the fruit bowl just drying up. I’m just waiting for you to say anything, anything at all, so I can type something.

In the end I just sometimes start clicking things. I’ll look at the medical history again or I’ll have a cheeky little look at the day list, just so the patient is aware that I am actually needed in the room. It’s not all the time I stand around like this!

Clumsy but organised

What about the occasions when you tell us the wrong name for a patient? I end up awkwardly stand there shouting the wrong name, with all the patients just staring at me!

Okay, so we’re doing a filling on a patient and I really need to get in with the aspirator. But you won’t let me in – why won’t you let me in? Why do you want to shut me out? So, I just have to hover over the area and wait until you’re ready to let me in again.

Dentists, you know we don’t actually mix better when you’re watching us mix alginate? I can feel your eye watching me and it makes me feel very pressured and god forbid if it’s too runny. I have to become some sort of baker and get the mixture spot on. Now I feel like I should try out for Great British Bake Off after my experience of mixing alginate.

I’ve worked with some diva dentists, from visor throwing to one cancelling his afternoon because he couldn’t get a tooth out. My mate at my first practice got hit on the head once with the light by a dentist (it was an accident). It wasn’t funny for her, but we were all in hysterics. Honestly though, each dentist I have worked with has shaped me into the nurse I am today – clumsy but organised, punctual but also look like I need adopting.

It must be stressful for you when you can’t get a tooth out, it really stresses me out too. I get this urge to go into some sort of hulk mode and take over because of course I would be able take it out! Half an hour passes and you are still trying, and I’m just standing there like please for the love of God just give in. It’s time to get the referral form out now, come on you did your best.

Do dentists know the difference between clinical waste and non-clinical waste?

The betrayal when they say another nurse is their favourite (and we know they all have their favourite nurse). One dentist once used to tell every nurse that they were his favourite – cheeky!

When the fallow time has finished and I’m taking off my PPE to turn around and you’re adjusting the patient’s filling more. You could have told me before I took my PPE off!

My first practice was the funniest place I’ve worked at – there was a rivalry between the dental nurses and dentists. It got to the stage where a dentist used to tape the milk shut in the fridge and write ‘dentists only’ onto it. I still laugh about that now.

Things dental nurses find satisfying

Nurses – close your eyes and picture this: you’ve just got your bite patient in, the dentist is heating up the wax knife and then you hear it. The knife making contact with the wax and you get that crackling noise. Honestly, I love it.

Or when you’ve done an amalgam filling and it’s time to adjust it. You can feel the amalgam go down the aspirator. I really don’t know why that satisfies me. Am I weird?

How amazing is it when you’ve got no instruments left in decontamination. It’s very rare it happens but when it does happen it’s brilliant, isn’t it? You go home feeling like you’ve accomplished something.

A composite filling on anterior teeth and the finishing touches the dentist makes. Oh my gosh! I do love a composite on anterior teeth.

My team

No matter what practice you end up in, or what your job role is within the practice, I can guarantee that each person becomes a family member. This might be the annoying auntie who never shuts up or the arrogant uncle that wants everything to be perfect.

Sometimes you may not see eye to eye with your team but one thing I’ve learned been a dental nurse is that you have to look out for each other.

Also, a bit of advice – don’t get too attached to people because they do leave (but some may come back). I do still keep in touch with people from my past work places, like my first practice – they’re now my best friends, more like sisters. I also keep in touch with one of my old managers. But my point is that some of the people you meet will become a big part of your life – so just be nice to people.

And to my current gang, love to each one of you.


Read part one and two of Ellesse’s dental nurse confessions:

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