Dental Triage Nurse – The Role and Responsibilities

Triage dentistry is an important part of the service offered by the NHS. When patients need dental care out of hours, this is where the dental triage system comes in.

Here at EBPCOOH we are always looking to recruit new dental triage nurses to serve the needs of the patients in Berkshire who need dental treatment when their surgery is closed. If you are currently working as a dental nurse and have five years or more experience, read on to find out more about the role and what it entails.


Triage in Dentistry

Most people associate ‘triage’ with hospitals and general healthcare. While it is true that the triage process occurs more frequently in A&E wards, it’s often used in dentistry too. Formally defined, triage is the assignment of degrees of urgency to illnesses or wounds which will determine the order in which patients are seen by specialists.

In relation to dentistry, triage occurs through the referral system- a dentist might refer a patient when:

  • The necessary treatment requires equipment or tests not available in the practice
  • The necessary treatment is complex and therefore beyond the scope of general dentist practice
  • The patient is taking certain drugs or has a medical condition which may complicate treatment
  • The dentist wants a second opinion or advice on a patient’s treatment plan

Historically, all referred patients would only be able to receive treatment at the hospital. However thanks to the recent creation of NHS Pathways, dentists are now able to refer patients to other dental care providers who may have specialised training or enhanced equipment for certain procedures, as well as in hospitals. The triage system assesses such referrals and makes a decision about how the patient can receive the most appropriate care.


The Role of A Dental Triage Nurse

When a patient calls 111 with an out of hours dental emergency, a dental triage nurse will clinically assess and refer patients to the appropriate out of hours service, as well as provide pharmaceutical and analgesic advice.

The expectations for the role include:

  • Dealing safely and promptly with calls, ensuring a high standard of service
  • Effectively following the dental telephone triage framework to assess each patient and prioritise patients when necessary
  • Offering appropriate pain relief
  • Identifying urgent situations and referring patients within a specific time frame
  • Providing contact details for other NHS services where appropriate
  • Maintaining accurate dental call logs
  • Following the confidentiality process

The role is based on the telephone, therefore dental triage nurses work autonomously from home. The telephone system can be complex, so it is important that you are able to use it at home confidently.

All nurses receive reference materials and regular pharmacy updates, so although it is important you have experience and previous knowledge, you will be able to give well-informed pharmaceutical and analgesic advice to patients.

The role can be demanding, and every dental triage nurse needs to be a good problem solver, able to communicate well with the more vulnerable members of society, as well as those under stress or with mental or physical disabilities.

We use the Adastra Patient Management System, and all nurses are required to maintain accurate consultation records as part of the role, which means good computer literacy is vital.

The perfect candidate will have previous training and experience, but will also have well developed critical decision skills, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and good IT and computer skills. Dental nurses with at least five years experience looking for a new role offering a challenge would be perfect for the position.

If you are interested in working as dental triage nurse for EBPCOOH or would like to know more, you can apply here, visit our website,  email us at or call us on 03000 243 333 for more information.