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What Are the Duties of an Orthodontic Nurse?

Orthodontics is a field of dentistry that focuses on the examination and correction of malocclusions, which is an improper bite caused by irregular tooth function or a lack of proportion in the jaws. Orthodontic treatment typically centres on correcting dental misplacement, but can also issue treatment to modify facial growth altogether. An orthodontic nurse plays a crucial support role to a practicing orthodontist, assisting him with the preparation of tools and equipment for cosmetic and medical dental procedures. The average salary of an orthodontic nurse as of June 2010 was £24,700, according to the Indeed website.

Patient Care

An orthodontic nurse can also administer pain relief to the teeth and gums of patients before treatment and ensures a patient is kept still so that any corrective devices are correctly fitted. An orthodontic nurse also consults patients before treatment to ensure they have a full understanding of the nature and purpose of any invasive procedure. They also consult with patients to assess retainers or braces once applied to ensure they have not weakened or shifted out of place. An orthodontic dental nurse assists a dentist in keeping a patient comfortable before and during examination or surgery. An orthodontic nurse also gives advice to patients on measures to prevent orthodontic problems from worsening.

Technical Duties

An orthodontic nurse is responsible for preparing the necessary instruments for a given procedure and mixing any substances required. She is also assigned to tidy up the surgery after a procedure has been completed and for the sterilisation and hygienic storage of any dental instruments that have been used. She ensures that health and hygiene standards are strictly adhered to by following infection and cross-infection protocols, as stated on the Learn 4 Good website. An orthodontic nurse also assists with the application of devices used to straighten teeth and jaw bones, such as dental braces and headgear and expansion appliances. She may also be assigned to construct casts of patients' mouths to ensure dental braces and other corrective devices can be securely fitted. Some orthodontic nurses also carry out and develop patient X-rays to examine the extent of an overbite or underbite.

Administrative Role

An orthodontic nurse sometimes assists with reception work if a practice is temporarily understaffed. Duties here will include booking patient appointments, processing payments over the phone or in person, filing paperwork and tending to visiting patients on arrival. An orthodontic nurse also assess supplies of basic dental materials and reorders stocks where required. A orthodontic nurse also takes notes from a dentists' dictation to add to a patient's dental history.

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About the Author

Jason Prader began writing professionally in 2009, and is a freelance writer with a sound academic background and experience in writing articles for online magazine Shavemagazine.com. He is highly adept at constructing academic essays and producing articles on an array of subject matter. He holds a master's degree in 20th century literature from the University of Sussex.