How to Approach a Dentist for a Shadowing Request

When shadowing a dentist, it's essential to engage in active observation. Pay attention not only to the dental procedures but also to the interpersonal dynamics between the dentist, staff, and patients. Notice how the dentist communicates complex medical terms in layman's language for patients to understand their dental condition better. Additionally, take note of the dentist's hygiene practices and how they manage their tools and equipment. Observing these key elements will provide a comprehensive understanding of the day-to-day operations of a dental practice.

How to Approach A Dentist 

Aspiring dentists need to go through a lot before they can obtain their license to practice. One of the important requirements is shadowing, and observing a licensed dentist at work. Shadowing gives you an insight into the daily life of a dentist and helps you understand the practical aspects of the profession. It’s also the perfect opportunity to network with professionals. But how do you even approach a dentist to request shadowing? Here are some tips on how to do it without coming off as pushy.

1. Do your research.

Before approaching a dentist, do your research. Know who the dentist is, where they work, and what kind of dentistry they specialize in. By doing so, you can tailor your request to better fit their schedule and interests. It also shows the dentist that you are serious about the profession. Look for information on the dentist’s website, LinkedIn profile, or professional organization directories.

2. Send a formal email.

Make a professional impression right away by sending a formal email to the dentist. Start by addressing them properly (i.e., Dr. Smith). Introduce yourself, stating your name, the name of your university, and your goals for shadowing. Explain your interest in dentistry and why you chose the dentist you are contacting. End the email by requesting a meeting to discuss shadowing opportunities and your availability.

3. Be flexible.

Remember that dentists have busy schedules. When requesting shadowing, suggest multiple dates and times that work for you in order to increase the chance of being accommodated. Be willing to adapt and adjust your schedule if it means being able to shadow the dentist. Consider shadowing at different times of the day if their schedule is full.

4. Show your passion and dedication.

Dentists want to work with individuals who are passionate about the profession. Demonstrate your dedication by arriving at least 15 minutes early, dressing professionally, bringing a notepad and pen to take notes, and asking thoughtful questions about the dentistry that you observe. Show the dentist that you are grateful for the opportunity and appreciate their time and guidance.

5. Follow up with appreciation.

After shadowing, it is essential to follow up with a thank-you note to express your gratitude for the experience. It also helps to leave a positive impression on the dentist and shows that you appreciate their time. In the follow-up email, you can also ask for advice on how to improve your shadowing experience and ways to prepare yourself for dental school.


Shadowing a dentist is an important part of the application process to dental school. It gives aspiring dentists an insight into the daily life of a professional, including the pros and cons of the profession. However, approaching a dentist can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn't have to be. By doing your research, sending a formal email, being flexible, showing your passion for the profession, and following up with appreciation, you can make a great impression on the dentist and increase your chances of being offered an opportunity to shadow. Remember, dentists were once in your shoes, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Good luck!

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