Jul 11, 2013
Hi everyone,
I have been trying to find a dentist near my area and shadow him for a while so I can get some hours and letter of recommendation from him or her. I have been calling many offices some allow and some don't. Some of them allowed me for the 1st time and told me to not come back again.

As most of you know that most dental school in the USA require LOR from a dentist. I don't know anybody who is a dentist and writes me a LOR.

I talked to a School of Dentistry Clinic Administration in Oregon State about shadowing and volunteering. She said you can volunteer with a 3rd or 4th year dental student. Also, she said she's able to write a LOR.

Does anyone know if that's something dental school will accept even though the LOR is not directly from a dentist? Should I move forward and volunteer there at the OHSU dental clinic instead of going with general practitioner. One clinic told me that they have to pay liability insurance for me to stay in their clinic and observe. Anyone has been through this scenario especially those of you who have applied and accepted.


2+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2014
Dental Student
Hi brightdream!
I thought I was the only with that same problem. Glad I came across your post! Almost all private practitioners don't really want people to shadow them (including my dentist). He gave me permission to shadow. I was so happy so I contacted him to set up date and time but always reached the front desk people. After contacting and waiting for two months, I disappointedly gave up because I hate feeling like a beggar :(. I had some experiences shadowing/volunteering at a public clinic back in 2012 (80 hrs) but want to shadow at a different clinic. They ignored me after a few contacts and I don't want to bother them anymore.

P.S. I was very nice and polite to them & did not blow up their phones or email inboxes.


2+ Year Member
Jul 26, 2014
If I were the dentist, having a student shadower could be an annoyance, but then again, they should remember where they came from and at once point in time, they had to shadow as well.
The dentist I shadow was very very nice and even the dental assistant was super nice about me dropping by whenever I want. My dentist also let me suction when the assistant is busy with another patient. Not all dentists are the same, keep trying until you find one who's willing to let you do it.


5+ Year Member
Aug 23, 2014
I had to call/email and ask 25+ different dental offices to get two yeses. Currently I'm shadowing two dentists who work on different days in the same office.
Here's what I did:

1. Called a lot of local dental offices. Be polite and don't say job-shadow but say shadow.
2. Asked my orthodontist/general dentist when I went in for regular cleaning. He said sure but Mondays only.. except I'm unavailable on Mondays this quarter, plus his office is so far away from my house; so I had to look for different dentists.
3. Made more calls... ones that are close to my school and ones that are close to my house.

One orthodontist told me to come in but that was just for once; I did only two hours there.
Then I got a call from one of the dental offices I called. It was actually the dentist himself who called me back :soexcited:
He was really cool, cool enough to allow me to shadow long term and start immediately without an interview or forms to submit.
He also has a partner who works with him. So I'm observing two dentists..!!
Trust me, you will find at least one dentist who would let you shadow him/her regularly.
I think it's a good idea to look for offices with more than one dentist.
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Mar 24, 2014
Liability. Personal Information. Privacy. ETC. All of these are a problem.

Make your rounds like all other SDN-ers here. I had to call 50+ dental practitioners. Out of all 50, only 2 responded.


7+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2011
Dental Student
Damn..I did not know it was hard to shadow a dentist. I walked in to one of the clinics next to my home and the dentist was pretty cool about it. He even sat and spoke to me about how it took him 3 tries to get into D-school.
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