10 Most Common Dental School Interview Questions and Model Answers

Advice & Insight From Dentistry Interview Specialists

​Key Information

Interviews for Dental School can cover challenging topics. Here, we present 10 of the most common questions and answers suitable for Dentistry candidates. These questions are aimed at candidates for both the UK and US. You can find more in our Dental School Interview question bank.

Knowledge of Dentistry and Healthcare

Why do you want to study dentistry and not medicine?

I am fascinated by the balance between artistry and science in dentistry, which sets it apart from general medicine. In dentistry, every patient presents a unique challenge, requiring a hands-on approach, precision, and aesthetic consideration, alongside comprehensive medical knowledge. I am particularly attracted to the immediate and tangible impact that dental procedures can have on an individual’s health, self-esteem, and overall quality of life. Additionally, I believe the long-term patient-dentist relationship, often spanning years, if not decades, allows for an intimate understanding of patients’ needs and fosters trust. This long-term engagement is less common in many fields of medicine but central to dentistry, which is another reason why I favour this profession.

What work experience have you done to prepare for a dental career, and what did you learn from it?

I undertook work experience at a local dental practice, which gave me invaluable exposure to the profession. I observed various procedures, from routine check-ups to complex root canal treatments. This experience gave me insights into the technical skills required in dentistry, but importantly, it highlighted the interpersonal skills necessary to ease patient anxieties and communicate treatment plans effectively. I also saw firsthand the vital role that dental professionals play in preventive care and health education. This experience cemented my interest in dentistry and highlighted the diversity and breadth of the profession.

What role do you think dentists play in public health?

Dentists play a crucial role in public health, far beyond the treatment of oral diseases. They are often the first to identify signs of systemic diseases, such as diabetes or certain types of cancer, due to their regular contact with patients and thorough examination of oral tissues. Moreover, dentists play a pivotal role in preventive health care by educating patients about oral hygiene, nutrition, and habits that can contribute to overall health, such as smoking cessation. Through their regular patient interactions, dentists also have a unique opportunity to address health inequalities and contribute to the wider goal of improving community health outcomes.

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Personal Attributes

How have your previous experiences prepared you for the demands of a dental career?

My work experience at a dental practice was a crucial first step in preparing for a dental career. It gave me insights into the technical skills and precision required for dentistry, as well as the importance of effective communication and empathy in patient interactions. I also gained understanding of the administrative and managerial aspects of a dental practice. Furthermore, my academic background in Biology has equipped me with a solid foundation in human anatomy and physiology, which are integral to dentistry. On a personal level, my involvement in sports teams has helped me develop resilience, teamwork, and leadership skills, all of which are necessary for the demanding, yet rewarding, path of dentistry.

Can you describe a situation where you've demonstrated leadership?

As the captain of my school’s debate team, I was tasked with organising our weekly meetings, coordinating practice debates, and providing feedback to team members. During one particular season, we faced a formidable rival school in the regional finals. Our team was initially intimidated and demoralised. Recognising this, I organised additional practice sessions and sought advice from our coach to refine our strategy. I also encouraged an open dialogue within the team to address concerns and build confidence. My efforts paid off when we won the competition. This experience underscored the importance of effective leadership in fostering team unity, building morale, and achieving shared goals – skills I believe are also valuable in a dental team setting.

How do you handle criticism and feedback?

I believe feedback and constructive criticism are essential for personal and professional growth. During my time in school, I have been involved in several group projects where peer evaluation was part of the process. Initially, it was difficult to accept criticism, but I soon realised that it was instrumental in identifying areas of improvement. I approach criticism with an open mind, seeing it as an opportunity to learn and improve. I reflect on the feedback, create an action plan to address the areas of concern, and strive to implement it. I am also proactive in seeking feedback from teachers and peers to ensure continuous improvement.

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How would you handle a situation where a patient refused necessary treatment on the grounds of cost?

The situation is indeed challenging, and it brings into play several ethical principles like beneficence and autonomy. As a dentist, my primary concern would be the patient’s health. I would try my best to communicate the importance and necessity of the treatment for their wellbeing. However, I also understand that the cost can be a prohibitive factor for many patients. If the patient still refused, I would respect their decision, ensuring that they are making an informed choice. Meanwhile, I would explore alternative treatments or payment plans that might be more financially feasible for the patient, or refer them to social support services that could assist in meeting the cost of treatment.

Imagine you are a dentist and a parent brings in their 12-year-old child who needs a filling but is terrified of the procedure. How would you manage this situation?

Managing a fearful child requires patience, empathy, and good communication skills. I would start by building rapport with the child, perhaps by talking about their interests or showing them around the dental office. I would then explain the procedure in simple, non-threatening language and demonstrate the tools in a non-intimidating way. Providing reassurance and allowing the child to voice their fears would also be helpful. If the child was still anxious, I would discuss with the parents the possibility of using sedation or distraction techniques such as music or videos during the procedure. Ultimately, I would aim to ensure the child’s comfort while providing necessary dental care.

If you noticed a colleague making a consistent error that could harm patients, how would you address the situation?

Patient safety is paramount, so it would be necessary to address the issue promptly. Initially, I would approach my colleague privately and discuss my observations, giving them a chance to explain. It’s possible they are unaware of the mistake, and a gentle conversation could solve the issue. If this didn’t bring about change, or if they denied the problem, I would raise the issue with a supervisor or the practice manager to ensure the safety of our patients. It would be essential to handle the situation professionally and respectfully, keeping the best interests of the patients in mind.

What do you think the most common ethical concern is for dentists?

One of the most common ethical concerns for dentists is managing the delicate balance between business interests and patient care. Dentistry, like any other healthcare profession, is bound by principles of beneficence and non-maleficence, but it is also a business that needs to be financially viable. The potential conflict between financial gain and patient care can lead to ethical dilemmas. For instance, a dentist might feel pressured to recommend more expensive treatments that might not be necessary. Navigating these issues requires a strong ethical foundation, clear communication with patients about treatment options and costs, and a commitment to prioritising patient welfare over profits.

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