This is a very common question, so make sure you have considered it in preparation for your Dentistry interview.
You need to demonstrate a realistic understanding of what being a dentist involves and what studying Dentistry is like. You can draw on what you have learned from your work experience, university open days and further reading e.g. dental news.
Show that you understand the skills and qualities that make a good Dentist, and explain how you fit the criteria. Try to get across your interest in working with people and interacting with patients, as this is something required of every dentist.
If you have an interesting hobby that shows manual dexterity, you can also bring this into your answer. Relate this to how Dentistry is a hands-on career with a creative element.
This question tests your commitment to studying Dentistry. Therefore, your answer should reflect this.
Have a think about what you would do during the year out (while you reapplied) that would strengthen your application. For example, doing work experience or volunteering to get more patient contact and improve your communication skills.
A career in Dentistry often involves challenges and setbacks. Use your answer to demonstrate how you would gain something positive from a negative experience and stay committed to Dentistry.
This question gives you the chance to demonstrate that you understand the realities of being a dentist. Consider what you observed and learned from your work experience: what challenges do dentists face?
Your answer should be realistic but not overly negative. Make it clear that you feel the positive aspects of the job outweigh the negatives.
One example of a negative aspect is dealing with the tight time demands of being a dentist. Describe a way in which you could overcome this: for example, effective time management to plan ahead and avoid stress. If you observed a dentist overcoming a challenge during your work experience, reflect on that.
Another example is dealing with anxious and phobic patients. This could be overcome by building a rapport with patients and working on your communication skills.
Think about ways you cope with stress in your life and how you achieve a work-life balance. State the importance of this for mental wellbeing and to avoid letting personal problems interfere with work.
Talk about a challenge, how you overcame it and what you learned from the experience that could be applied to working in Dentistry.
If any hobbies or extracurricular activities help you to relax and avoid burnout, mention these. Dental Schools want students who can maintain a work-life balance and contribute to the wider university community.
Interviewers won’t expect you to have a detailed answer to this, but they will expect a basic understanding of dental caries as this is one of the most common complaints for patients.
Explain that dental caries or tooth decay is caused by bacteria. Bacteria create an acidic environment in which teeth are demineralised.
A good answer will also indicate that it can be prevented by good oral hygiene practices that remove plaque. With good plaque control, bacteria is unlikely to cause demineralisation of enamel.
Start by explaining that dental implants are a relatively new advancement in Dentistry and involve placing a fixed alternative to removable dentures.
In some cases, implants are given to patients on the NHS – for example, if they have a medical need such as no longer having the support structures in the mouth required for dentures.
Acknowledge that the cost of implants can be very expensive, due to the cost of the equipment and the high number of appointments needed with dentists.
Use this information to draw your own balanced conclusion about whether or not you agree with the current NHS system.
Start by demonstrating your knowledge of Dentistry in the NHS currently, such as the different pay bands and what is included in each of them.
NHS Dentistry is currently only free to some, such as those on low-income benefits, under 18 or pregnant. Making NHS Dentistry free for everyone would mean that the funding would have to come from another source – so be prepared to discuss this.
Come to a balanced conclusion, weighing up the pros and cons of charging for Dentistry in the NHS.
Studying Dentistry requires life-long learning, so it is important that you stay up-to-date with research, NHS developments and Dentistry news.
Be prepared to talk about something that you’ve read recently at your interview. It will show that you are truly interested in Dentistry and motivated to learn more about it.
This question assesses your empathy towards patients. A good place to start is by discussing how traumatising it can be for a patient to find out they need an extraction.
Emphasise how you need to be clear about why the tooth needs to be extracted, and also understanding of the patient’s emotions.
It is important that you make sure the patient comprehends what you are telling them, so a good way to determine this is by asking them questions.
This question is testing your knowledge of communication and how it applies to Dentistry, so make sure your answer reflects this.
Think about non-verbal communication skills such as body language and eye contact. This will give you a clue as to how much your patient understands.
An important issue is informed consent. To tackle this, you could hire a translator for the appointment to make sure that the patient understands the treatment, plus the implications and benefits of it.
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