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  • Writer's picturePipes

What are some negative aspects of dentistry?:MMIs

Studying to do dentistry is by no means easy and so it is important that you know what you're getting into. Despite its many perks, it is important to know about the potential negatives and downsides to studying dentistry, especially since it requires a huge commitment. This is a typical dental MMI and interview question you may be asked for your university application. The purpose of it is to make sure students know what they're getting themselves into- ie don't completely slate the dental profession- and whether you can commit. It is therefore equally necessary to suggest solutions to the potential negatives of the course.


It is common misconception that dentistry is an easy job. Most people's experience of dentistry is just the regular check up. However, dentistry can be very stressful and especially NHS dentistry. With the various quotas and contracts (look up UDAs), NHS dentists often have to rush appointments and deliver sub-optimal care in order to satisfy these quotas. And even with these rushed appointments there is still a huge backlog of cases in NHS dentistry. There is a reason why there is a stigma around dentistry having one of the highest suicide rates; dentistry is naturally a very stressful job and much of this stress is self imposed. Dentists often have very high expectations of themselves, they're perfectionists which does not always help stress levels. Equally, patients can also have high expectations or in some cases, simply be difficult to deal with. Not only this, as a dentist, there is always a risk of hurting people and affecting their quality of life which in turn means there is always a threat of litigation. Additionally, by virtue of dentistry being in healthcare there is always the stress of medical emergencies.

A good starting point to explain how one can overcome this challenge is to emphasise the importance of teamwork and how dentistry is fundamentally a team job. You could give examples of when you worked in a team and how members supported each other. You could also talk about having a good work/life balance and give examples of how you have a good balance. However, I feel like it is important to acknowledge the fact that every job comes with some stress and you do have a duty of care to the patient, emphasising the importance of resilience.


As mentioned above, resilience is required in any profession and could be argued to be the most important skill one can develop. In my opinion, resilience and perseverance are especially important in dentistry. Firstly, being a dentist is very physically tough. There is a reason many dentists retire early. The unergonomic working environment and the posture dentists work with in the length of time they work puts enormous strain on their body but doing sport and exercise could be a good way to show you can overcome this.

Secondly, dentistry can also be pretty mentally challenging. Not only do dentists have to concentrate through long and complex procedures but also doing dentistry is a huge commitment. With at least five years to practice and many more years to be successful, you will have to study a lot doing dentistry. Examples where you focus on a task for a long time could be good way to show you can overcome these things, especially if it involves manual dexterity, such as playing a musical instrument. Similarly, it will definitely be beneficial to mention the value of learning and education and how dentistry involves life-long learning.

Good luck!

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