Published on July 3, 2024

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Dentistry MMI Questions & Answers

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format is a popular method for assessing candidates applying to dental schools. This structured interview format presents applicants with a series of stations, each containing a scenario or question designed to evaluate various skills and attributes relevant to a career in dentistry. In this article, we explore common types of MMI questions encountered in dental school interviews and provide guidance on how to approach them effectively.

Your Motivations

Admission committees want to ensure applicants are committed to dentistry and passionate about it. Therefore, at the start of MMIs, a commonly asked question is ‘’Why dentistry?’’. It is important to show interviewers that you made the decision thoughtfully by reflecting on a wide range of events, rather than a single moment. Work experience scenarios are the best way to showcase your understanding of the impact dentists can make and what key attributes they possess, such as empathy. The impact can range from alleviating pain, boosting patients’ self-esteem, diagnosing oral cancer, facilitating speech through the provision of dentures, and a plethora of treatments that can be life-changing. Whatever the impact is, you will need to provide examples from work experience or your journey to illustrate that. If you would like to be more unique, you can further incorporate your thoughts on wider reading and how that cemented your interest. These can include scientific papers from the BDJ or books such as ‘The Dental Diet’ and ‘The Smile Stealers’. Your answer can last about 3-4 minutes and should not be too long or too vague; you will need to be succinct and selective with the points you choose to make.

A common mistake applicants make is talking about science or the oral cavity; there is much more to dentistry than that! By doing this, you will give interviewers the impression that you do not have a realistic understanding of the career. Another mistake to avoid is giving cliché answers such as ‘’I wanted to be a dentist ever since I was X years old’’ because it is unlikely that you would be able to remember an experience so clearly! Instead, reflect on more impactful and recent moments that truly stood out to you.

Your Personal Statement

Be prepared to answer follow-up questions regarding points you made in your personal statement, particularly in panel interviews. You may be asked to elaborate on a work experience scenario, or what you learnt from reading a book/scientific paper. Make use of grammar-checking and editing tools or ask someone to go over your personal statement briefly and come up with a few questions that can be potentially asked to ensure you are fully prepared.

Personal Statement Review

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Your Dental Work Experience

Reflecting on work experience is arguably the essence of answering most interview questions successfully. It shows interviewers that you have a realistic insight into the daily responsibilities and essential skills of dentists. While you may not explicitly be asked about it, interviewers will expect you to reflect on it. Examples include:

  • What are the 3 most important skills for a dentist?
  • Which is more important: manual dexterity or communication?
  • Why is X skill important?
  • Why would you like to study dentistry?/ What did you see in your shadowing that inspired you to pursue dentistry?
  • How would you put someone off dentistry? / What are the challenges of being a dentist?

The above questions can be overwhelming thus condensing information into a table format helps. Make a table of the key attributes of dentists and link it to a moment/scenario that corresponds to it. For example, you can observe teamwork in a dental clinic when the dental nurse uses suction while the dentist operates to create a dry, saliva-free surface. You can then use the table as a revision/memory aid when preparing closer to your interview date. When reflecting, do not just describe what happened, explain the impact it had on the patient and the quality of care. Using the previous example, teamwork helps to improve the efficiency of treatments and allows the dentist to focus more on the procedure than other things such as accessing the instruments or disinfecting the clinic.

What You Think Makes a Good Dentist

A good dentist possesses a range of interpersonal skills, professional attributes and technical skills which shall be explored in this section. Interpersonal skills comprise strong communication, teamwork and leadership. They are an integral part of the profession because you will be interacting with patients as well as your colleagues in the multidisciplinary team daily. You will be required to actively listen to your patients and explain dental diseases and treatment options in a simple manner to build rapport with them. Similarly, you will need to develop good working relationships with your colleagues to ensure a smooth operating practice and to optimise the quality of care.

Technical skills include staying current with the latest technologies and research in dentistry, along with demonstrating manual dexterity, which will be explored in a subsequent section. Dentistry is a rapidly evolving profession and guidelines regarding treatment options constantly change. A good dentist should update their knowledge to provide the best possible treatment and tailor it to their patients’ needs. This can be done through CPD which stands for ‘’Continuing Professional Development’’, constituting a range of training courses and conferences to highlight any changes to the profession.

Finally, professional conduct is crucial to build trust with patients. A good dentist adheres to ethical standards and guidance, namely the GDC (General Dental Council).

Using “PEEL”

Your interviewer may ask why you think you would be suited to dentistry/ be a good dentist too! A structure we highly recommend is PEEL, which stands for Point, Evidence, Evaluation and Link (to dentistry). Let’s take leadership as an example and dissect it:

  • Point- leadership is an essential skill in dentistry because … (e.g. as a dentist, you are responsible for planning out the patient’s course of treatment and assigning tasks to other team members according to their expertise.)
  • Evidence- example of a time where you displayed good leadership e.g. leading a sports team or a club, being a prefect or head boy/girl at school and so on.
  • Evaluation-What went well and what could have been improved?
  • Link- I witnessed this in my work experience when … (e.g. supporting another team member or taking on a leadership role in the absence of a senior leader/manager)

Why this Particular School & Course

This question is used to test your research into the opportunities universities offer as well as your interests. All information can be found on universities’ websites, and you are expected to base your answer on them. A simple approach to answer the question is to discuss the following 3 points: course structure, societies and location. When discussing the course, aim to cover why the teaching style suits you and how that will prepare you to be a good dentist; for example, if you enjoy a mixture of independence and teamwork, an EBL (enquiry-based learning) style may be your preference. Furthermore, outline the facilities that set this dental school apart from others. Examples include early clinical exposure, haptics labs, research/elective/intercalation opportunities, outreach programs and so on.

Once you have discussed the course, you can move on to the societies. This is your chance to showcase your interests and hobbies to prove that you will be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Pick 1 or 2 societies that resonate with you; these can be sports, arts or culture. Finally, discuss the city itself. What are some of the advantages of living in that city? Are there any sites/tourist attractions you wish to visit? Mentioning specific details in your answer with genuine enthusiasm can help you to effectively convey why X University is the perfect fit for you.

Interview Course

In our 2-day Dentistry Interview Course, you will learn about ethics, the NHS, hot topics, and required structures for your responses. Participate in our realistic MMI Circuits, get verbal and written feedback and essential strategies to help you secure entry into your chosen university.

Dental Knowledge

A basic understanding of common dental diseases is expected, including their causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment. The key ones to remember are dental caries (decay), periodontal (gum) disease, dental erosion and oral cancer. You are expected to use the scientific names for those diseases; for example ‘’periodontal’’ not ‘’gum’’ disease. A bonus would be to comment on risk factors associated with those diseases, such as a high sugar diet, poor oral hygiene, smoking for periodontal disease and oral cancer. With that in mind, how will you be tested? Some universities may show a picture of somebody’s oral cavity, and you would be asked to discuss the dental diseases that can be observed. They may not prompt you to explain the management of that disease, therefore ensure that you do go into the details to secure higher marks. Other universities may show a graph that displays a certain relationship and ask you to explain it; for example the link between frequency in sugar intake and caries progression/rate. By having that background knowledge, it will help you to predict the trend and provide an appropriate explanation.

Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical scenarios can be challenging, but it is important to show interviewers that you can tackle them as they do frequently arise in practice due to the interplay between patient care and professional responsibilities. The key here is to start off by setting the scene and identifying the main area of concern; this will let the interviewer know that you have recognised it immediately. Consider both sides of the scenario and avoid diving straight in with a strong point of view. Remember to only use the information in the question and not bring up any personal experiences as this will be irrelevant to the question and unprofessional.

When discussing your argument, ensure that you support it with guidelines, such as the 9 GDC standards, the 4 ethical pillars, the Duty of Candour, the DDU safeguarding legislations, the Mental Health Capacity Act, and the Equality Act. Other guidelines can be used, but you are almost always expected to mention the GDC so ensure that you memorise them off by heart and reference them.

Ethical Guidelines

Let’s explore some of the guidance listed above. The 4 pillars of medical ethics are principles that guide healthcare professionals to make decisions in ethical dilemmas. They include autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. Autonomy refers to respecting the patient’s freedom to make their own decisions regarding their health given they have the capacity. A patient who has the capacity can understand the information conveyed to them, retain it, evaluate it and communicate their decision (CURE framework), irrespective of their age or condition. The Mental Health Capacity Act therefore guides patients who lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. Proceeding to the next pillar, beneficence involves doing good to the patient, while non-maleficence is to do no harm. Finally, justice is ensuring fair treatment of patients and distribution of resources.

The 9 GDC standards are of utmost importance in ethical dilemmas, and you are expected to know them by all universities. These ensure that UK dental professionals provide safe, ethical and effective dental care.

Finally, remember that the scenarios may not always revolve around dentistry. They can be in other non-healthcare settings, such as university. Nevertheless, some common topics include informed consent, confidentiality, handling errors, managing patient autonomy vs professional judgement, and suspecting abuse/neglect. There are no right or wrong answers but expect to be asked follow-up questions by interviewers to challenge you. Do not be put off by this, make sure that you maintain your confidence and explain your reasoning thoroughly.

MedicHut Simulated MMI Interview

Mock MMI Circuit

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Communication and Patient Interaction

Interacting with patients is part and parcel of dentistry as discussed earlier. Communicating effectively is in itself a standard in the GDC, and it comes in many forms: verbal, non-verbal, paralanguage and active listening. As a dentist, you need to listen attentively to your patients’ concerns, expectations and preferences to tailor the treatment plan. Simultaneously, you will need to mirror the patient’s paralanguage i.e. tone, to help them feel at ease, as well as make eye contact, smile and maintain a positive atmosphere.

Problem-solving and Critical Thinking

Problem-solving is a critical skill in dentistry in order to diagnose diseases accurately, come up with comprehensive, individualised treatment plans and manage complications. This skill is tested by some universities through riddles or asking questions that require thinking outside the box (e.g. if you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?). At first, it is easy to fret and stress about the answer. However, there is no right or wrong answer; your answer should mainly justify your reasoning and you should link it back to yourself. f someone asks you about your spirit animal and you pick a camel, you would justify it by saying that camels represent patience and resilience, qualities that you possess. They endure the heat of the desert however they still persevere and have ways of coping such as water storage in humps- you are also someone who can cope with stress by doing such and such. In this way, you are showing interviewers that you have a personality and that you can think critically.

The Importance of Empathy

As a dentist, you will face patients who have complex dental needs, and medical and social history. These can range from dental anxiety, traumatic injuries, body dysmorphia disorders (teeth are the 3rd most common body part BDD patients worry about), drug/alcohol misuse, and a range of other conditions. Therefore, it is important to be sensitive and compassionate when treating patients, without being patronising. One of the ways this can be done is by asking open-ended questions regarding their concerns and expectations, ensuring that you maintain a non-judgemental attitude. Empathy frequently comes up in ethical dilemmas, so always make sure to mention it.

Role Play

Some universities may set up a role play station, where they will describe a dilemma and ask you to play a certain role. An actor will communicate with you, so be prepared to see actors becoming angry or crying.Remember that this is testing your ability to cope with pressure and challenging situations, so remain calm and act objectively. Maintain eye contact, smile and ask the actor follow-up questions to show your interest and empathy. Most importantly, treat it as if it were a situation in real life and do not treat it as a joke because that will result in failure of the station.

Hot Topics in Dentistry

A myriad of changes are occurring in dentistry currently, therefore controversial topics are constantly arising. Throughout the application cycle, keep an eye on dental news, the NHS banding system, new policies and how dental contracts work so you can showcase your wider reading. Questions regarding hot topics are normally straightforward to tackle, given that you discuss all the arguments and give a well-rounded response, preferably supported by case studies/statistics. Examples of hot topics include water fluoridation, the amalgam debate, the sugar tax, COVID-19, the UDA system, NHS vs private, and Brexit.

Manual Dexterity

Manual dexterity is one of the most important skills in dentistry because you will be working within the small space of the mouth to perform treatments. This will require you to be precise and avoid causing harm to other structures. Some universities may ask you do a manual dexterity task while answering questions to test your ability to work under pressure. Tasks can include origami or constructing braces, and you are not expected to finish them perfectly; they are looking for a calm, confident approach overall. Alternatively, other universities may ask you about the importance of the skill.


Professionalism in interviews is important to demonstrate your suitability for a career in dentistry. Firstly, as obvious as it sounds, ensure you are dressed appropriately and that you arrive on time to demonstrate your punctuality. Most importantly, ensure that you use formal language and the appropriate terms, avoiding the use of filler words and slang. If you are stuck on a question, simply ask the interviewer for a few seconds to think about your answer or to clarify the question instead of giving a poorly organised answer.

Communication Skills

You will be assessed for 2 things in your interview: content and communication. Interviewers will only see you for a few minutes, so you have limited time to create a positive first impression. You need to be articulate and confident when answering questions, which is why it is paramount to practise early on, especially if you are a shy person. There is a plethora of ways to practise, such as getting a job or volunteering where you will have to converse with others, as well as recording yourself speaking and noting any bad habits. Do you avoid eye contact or smiling? Do you use a monotone voice? Remember, you are your hardest critic! Furthermore, you can also practise with family, friends, and sign up for mock interviews to monitor your progress. In summary, use the time you have to perfect your communication not just for the sake of interviews but to also prepare yourself for patient interactions in dental school.

Dental School Interview Tuition

Dentistry interview tuition is essential for aspiring dental students for many reasons. This tuition provides thorough preparation, equipping you with the knowledge and skills to navigate the dental school admission interview effectively. This preparation includes familiarizing with common questions and strategies to build confidence and enhance communication skills. Additionally, through mock interviews, you can identify strengths and areas for improvement, refining your techniques and boosting your chances of an offer. To begin preparation quickly, book your dentistry interview tuition and contact us on WhatsApp at +44 7851 862356 with your booking confirmation, and we’ll set you up with a tutor who suits your requirements.

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