Prepare for your Dentistry interview with these example interview questions and answers. The answer guides have been put together by dentists who have successfully navigated Dentistry interviews at top Dental Schools.

Why Do You Want To Study Dentistry?

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.

Common mistakes:

  • Waffling in your answer. Keep it concise and to the point, otherwise it will look like you haven’t given enough thought as to why you want to become a dentist.
  • Referring to members of your family who are dentists. While this might have inspired you to pursue a career in Dentistry, it is important to reflect on why you personally want to be a dentist.
  • Mentioning financial rewards associated with a career in Dentistry. Although this might be a motivation for some people, it shouldn’t be the main thing that attracts you to Dentistry.

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If Your Application To Dental School Is Unsuccessful, What Would You Do?

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.

Common mistakes:

  • Saying that you would not reapply and would instead follow another career path. This shows a lack of commitment to Dentistry.
  • Assuming that your application will be successful is also a mistake, because this suggests arrogance.

What Are The Negative Aspects Of Being A Dentist?

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Saying there are no negative aspects to working in Dentistry. This is inaccurate and will suggest that you have unrealistic expectations of the career.
  • Listing all of the challenges without suggesting any ways in which you could overcome them.

How Do You Cope With Work When You Are Being Affected By Personal Problems?

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not knowing any ways that you can maintain a work-life balance, or claiming that you will find it easy. This suggests that you might not be ready to face the demands of Dentistry.
  • Not understanding the importance of controlling your emotions when treating patients.

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Describe To Me Your Understanding Of Dental Caries.

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not knowing what dental caries are or what causes them. As this is a basic concept in Dentistry, it would indicate that you haven’t really researched dental problems.
  • Panicking – don’t be intimidated by these questions. Interviewers are not expecting a particularly detailed answer, they just want to know that you have a basic understanding of dental decay.

Do You Believe That Dental Implants Should Be Offered On The NHS?

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Having no knowledge or very little knowledge of dental implants. Interviewers expect a basic level of understanding, so do some research before your interview.
  • Giving a one-sided opinion. It is vital to discuss both the pros and cons of offering implants on the NHS, so make sure you tackle the question from both viewpoints.
  • If you have a strong opinion, try not to indicate this. It’s important to give a balanced answer.

Do You Believe That All Dentistry Performed In The NHS Should Be Free?

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not understanding the current NHS Dentistry system. This shows a lack of knowledge and will make it difficult for you to discuss the topic.
  • Having a strong, one-sided opinion.

Tell Me About A Piece Of Dental Or Medical News You Have Read Recently.

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not reading any Dentistry-related news. Interviewers expect you to be keeping up with news and developments if you want to pursue a career in Dentistry.
  • Being overly opinionated. Interviewers don’t expect you to be an expert, so you don’t need to offer a strong opinion.

Describe To Me How You Would Tell A Patient That Their Tooth Needs To Be Extracted.

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Saying that you would simply state the facts, because this does not show empathy.
  • Getting too emotionally involved in the situation – it is important to maintain a level of professionalism with patients.

How Would You Go About Treating A Non-English Speaking Patient?

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.

Common Mistakes:

  • Getting confused or panicking. When you are asked an unexpected question, spend a moment thinking about it before answering.
  • Not knowing the importance of communication in Dentistry. Patient understanding is key to ensuring that fully informed consent is given.

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