Dentistry Personal Statement Examples

Last updated: 29/08/2021

Writing a dentistry personal statement that you’re proud of is hard.

Many students struggle to boil down their skills and experiences to just 4,000 characters and it is tricky to know where to focus. 

Example statements are a great way to gain this insight.

In this article, you’ll:

  • See good and bad dental personal statements 
  • Get an expert analysis of each so you can learn from other peoples’ mistakes and successes
  • Get ideas for what to include in your own personal statement 

Once you've read this, read 'dental interview questions' to build on what you've learnt.

For an overview of personal statement writing, read the Personal Statement Guide for Medical and Dental Schools. This is essential reading and goes further than just examples!

An example of a good dentistry personal statement

“I first became interested in studying dentistry between the ages of 12 and 15, when I visited my local dentist frequently to get my braces checked and tightened. 

I talked with her at length about the nature of her job and was struck by the huge impact she could have on the people she met daily. 

She actively improved the quality of life of every patient she encountered, and had to astutely apply scientific principles in a social setting in order to make patients feel at ease and achieve the best results. I was truly inspired by this experience and decided to investigate dentistry as a career.

In order to deepen my insight into the profession I carried out a week’s work experience in a local dental hospital. I saw how dentists of every stage were keen to learn, constantly assessing their performance and striving to improve. 

This drove home the importance of self-awareness and constant reflection, but also introduced me to the idea of lifelong learning which is something I find particularly attractive. 

During this placement I also took my first look inside a patient’s mouth and observed dentists constructing bridges, veneers and crowns. This exposed me to the aesthetic side of dentistry - a dentist not only aims to alleviate pain but can engage with the more cosmetic aspect of healthcare, something that most medical specialties cannot match. 

I organised a number of work experience placements in local dental surgeries, and throughout my shadowing was struck by the bonds dentists formed with their patients. They often had to utilise great communication skills and empathy to calm down or reassure anxious patients, and they worked hard to build up a rapport with everyone who entered the surgery. This encouraged patients to attend checkups more frequently and be more open about their worries, thereby improving the quality of care they received. 

As a result of my reflection on these experiences, I took up weekly volunteering in a local care home and reading to children in the dental hospital. These opportunities helped me become a far better communicator, as many of the residents of the care home were elderly or suffered from dementia meaning I had to adopt different visual or verbal strategies to get my message across. Many of the young patients in the dental hospital felt lonely and nervous, and by empathising with them I was able to help them relax and focus on the positives.

Outside academia, I play water polo and run in my school’s athletic team. Both of these sports have helped me become a better team player and I’ve learned that you can always achieve the best results by working efficiently in a team rather than going it alone. 

I am a particularly ambitious sportsperson and I’ve received the Most Valuable Player award in my waterpolo league for three years running, and have been a captain for four. 

As a captain, I am a decisive leader; In the heat of a match it’s important for me to make snap decisions and for my teammates to trust me. However, out of the pool I take every view into account and try to make sure that everyone has been heard and feels involved. 

I also try to identify the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the team - myself included - so that we can play to our strengths in matches and work on our weaknesses in training.  

I think that the ambition, teamwork and leadership I’ve demonstrated through my sports will serve me well as a dentist, allowing me to work efficiently with others while constantly striving to improve personally. My participation in these sports has also allowed me to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Becoming a dentist would allow me to have a truly positive effect on the people I work with, while also challenging me and ensuring I’m always learning and improving. I believe that my work experience, volunteering and extracurricular activities have provided me with the skills and insight necessary to become an empathetic and effective dentist.”

Comments

Overview

This example displays many characteristics of a good personal statement. 

  • Well structured.
  • The candidate comes across as well-rounded and motivated, without appearing arrogant.
  • There are some minor areas that could be improved, but overall we think that this personal statement would impress university assessors.

Introduction

  • The introduction uses an anecdote to illustrate the candidate’s interest in dentistry. This is a good way to show how your interest in dentistry might have started, but it wouldn’t be suitable to write that you decided to apply to dentistry simply because you liked seeing your dentist as a child. The candidate doesn’t fall into this trap, and makes sure to highlight that this experience only inspired them to do further investigation into the career.
  • The candidate goes on to describe how they deepened their insight in the main body paragraph, adding cohesiveness.
  • The candidate also demonstrates some good insight into dentistry by discussing the unique blend of social skills and scientific knowhow required by dentists.

Main body paragraphs 

  • Variety - the candidate’s three main body paragraphs discuss some of their work experience placements, volunteering roles and extracurricular interests. 
  • Quality over quantity - they focus far more on individual experiences while going into more detail, and avoiding lists (although they witnessed a huge number of things during a week of work experience, they choose to focus on a couple of key experiences).
  • Insight - the statement demonstrates insight into the profession on multiple occasions. They talk about the prominence of lifelong learning, the aesthetic/cosmetic side of dentistry, and how building a rapport with patients can lead to better outcomes.

Re-read the example, consider how the candidate: 

  • Reflects on their experiences 
  • Built on their experience
  • Demonstrates relevant skills
  • Demonstrates that they are ready for the challenges inherent in dentistry

Conclusion 

  • Short, brief, and succinct. It doesn’t introduce any new information.
  • The candidate doesn’t really speak enough about why they chose to study dentistry over medicine. They mention the dual focus on health and cosmetics, but could mention some other factors as well - for example, the fact that dentistry is more specialised from the start of the degree than medicine.
  • They could show some more awareness of current news in the dental world.
  • The candidate could also speak a little more about the challenges dentists face in the workplace and how they would cope.
  • Discussion of paid employment would also have been beneficial.
Find more in-depth advice, tips and examples on our personal statement course.

An example of a poor dentistry personal statement

“Dentistry has fascinated me from a very early age, as to me it seems like the perfect combination of practical and mental challenges. This has become even stronger since my brother found work as a dentist, having recently graduated from manchester University.

For the past 4 years, I’ve been looking after a local elderly lady who sometimes struggles to go shopping or carry out her daily tasks. This has helped me appreciate the satisfaction one can gain from helping others, and inspired me to pursue a career which will allow me to improve the lives of those around me - like dentistry!

As a result of my interest in medicine, I studied biology, physics and maths at A-Level. 

I’ve also carried out a variety of work experience placements over the years. During my GCSEs, I spent a week volunteering in a local NHS surgery, which exposed me to some of the challenges dentists face; they were often overworked, and had to deal with frustrated and anxious patients on a daily basis. 

I really enjoyed this experience, so I decided to take on another two week block at a dental hospital . While I was there, I shadowed receptionists, helping them to book appointments and organise the dentists’ timetables. I also managed to see dentists make diagnoses and watch a huge range of different dental procedures, from regular checkups to fillings and root canals. I spent time in the in-house dental laboratory, and was taken through the construction of veneers, crowns and bridges. I was also able to shadow dentists over a whole day in their life, seeing the admin and meetings they had to trudge through on top of the more exciting clinical work.

In my free time I enjoy playing the violin and listening to music. I am also a dedicated member of a number of sports teams, including basketball, tennis and hockey. I am proficient at both individual and team sports, showing that I can work well with others, but also self-motivate and set my own targets. 

I also enjoy watching films and socialising with my friends. More recently, I’ve really enjoyed keeping up with current dental news by reading the Journal of Dental Research and my brother’s old copies of the British Dental Journal.

Looking to the future, my great ambition is to work within the dentistry profession, where I believe I could have a really positive impact on the lives of the patients I work with. 

My work experience has set me up well to succeed, and I feel I have the desire and commitment to stick the course and become a successful yet empathetic dentist”

Comments

Overview

  • Likely not to score well
  • It isn’t nearly long enough (2520 characters) 
  • It hasn’t been proofread and contains errors

Introduction

  • Did the candidate genuinely want to study dentistry from a young age? If it is true, it implies that they made this important decision based on an emotional impulse as a child.
  • Being inspired to go into dentistry just because your sibling did is also not recommended. Just because it was right for them doesn’t make it right for you. 
  • The mention of helping an elderly neighbour is good, but too brief. This is a great experience to reflect on and use to demonstrate both your motivations to study dentistry and your suitability for a caring role.
  • At no point in the statement does the candidate explain why another caring profession wouldn’t be just as suitable for them. 
  • There’s no mention of anything particularly specific to dentistry.

Main body paragraphs

  • The first paragraph follows a list, with the candidate demonstrating that they have a real range of work experience placements (which is good) but without going into sufficient detail.
  • There is very little reflection throughout these paragraphs. The candidate clearly has a good breadth of experience but can’t really explain anything they learned from it.
  • They demonstrate very few relevant skills throughout the statement. They should talk more about how each experience they’ve had has improved them, either by helping them develop or demonstrate key skills that dentists need. Then, they should explain why dentists need these skills in the first place. 
  • Describing the dentist’s admin and meetings as a ‘trudge’ and clinics as ‘exciting’ isn’t wise. This may be the case, but the reality is that dentists do spend a lot of their time writing notes, filling out paperwork and liaising with other healthcare professionals. If you find this particularly boring you either won’t be able to handle the job in the first place, or you’ll cut corners and thereby put patients at risk.
  • There’s no mention of the importance of a work-life balance when talking about how they relax.
  • It is crucial not to lie in your personal statement. It is possible that they do 'really enjoy' reading dental journals, but it is likely that your interviewers will latch onto this and quiz you repeatedly on it. 

However, it is worth mentioning the things these main body paragraphs do well:

  • There is some reflection on the challenges faced by dentists, which will reassure the assessors that the candidate does have some insight and can reflect on their experiences.
  • The candidate discusses the skills they demonstrated through their sports which is exactly the right thing to do. The only thing they’re missing is a linking of this to dentistry.
The ultimate guide to studying dentistry in the UK

Conclusion

  • Remains brief and concise while summarising the rest of the statement and finishing with a strong, confident claim. 
  • It is better to show “desire and commitment” to the profession earlier in the statement before introducing it in the conclusion. 
  • Saying that work experience will set you up well for a career in dentistry is simply not true. Watching a couple of weeks’ worth of dental procedures will not make you a better dentist later in life. It is the reflection on those experiences that assessors are looking for.

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Want more dentistry personal statements examples? Go to Medify’s Personal Statement Course –  now including a library of real dental personal statements

You’ll see how each example scores against key criteria and learn to reflect on and improve your own personal statement.

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