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Applying for

Dental School

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What to expect

If you’re shadowing at a normal NHS GDP treatment will be split into three major bands

Band 1- This will cover Examinations, Radiographs, OHI (Oral Hygiene Instruction) etc.…

Band 2- Band 1 + Fillings, Root Canals and Extractions

Band 3- Band 1, 2 + Crowns, Bridges and Dentures

So for examinations you will see the dentist go through the patients chart, Look at a patients BPE (Basic Periodontal Exam), perhaps take some radiographs for areas they might be concerned about and form a treatment plan for the patient to follow. For this stage you might be able to see how the dentist explains the treatment plan to the patient in a logical order, examples like this should highlight the importance of good communication skills.  

Typical Treatment plans will follow the following order: Stabilization phase, hygiene phase and definitive treatment

You might observe the dentist deal with an anxious patient and methods that may be used to deal with this. Or techniques used when trying to take an Alginate impression on a patient with a gag reflex.

Remember if there is anything you’re unsure on, you can always ask the dentist once the patient has gone. 

On arrival you will usually be first greeted by the practice manager or lead nurse they will they usually start the work experience by running by a few key points, informing you on fire exits as well as general health and safety.

A usual shadowing day is from 9am-2pm, you will be informed whether you’re shadowing a single or multiple dentists/ dental hygienists and you will have a chance to meet and chat to them. At the end of the day make sure to sign out with either the lead nurse or practice manager before going home.  


When you have finished your work experience remember to have either the dentist or practice manger fill out and sign an evaluation form before you leave, you may need this for evidence when you go to interviews 

Common things you might observe

  • Get a diary or planner and write down anything that you find interesting, this is a great way to have plenty of content to talk about when it comes time for your interview as well as provides good content for your personal statement.


  • Be punctual and respectful, at the end of the work experience you will need to have an evaluation form filled out and signed by the dentist. Some universities such as Bristol may require you to bring evidence of this. Click here to see more info.


  • Ask questions, once the patient is gone and the dentist is free you can ask questions on things you found interesting. Remember however that you should be mindful of location as patient confidentiality is paramount.


Some Tips