Well, for me there are a few different reasons..but I'll just give you one for now......
(the most usual answer) I want to help people!! But I don't think I could handle being a MD. I couldn't deal with every little ache and pain that someone's body felt. I rarely go to the doc (only for yearlies and if I have something that requires a script.) But I really sympathize with people that have mouth issues. My teeth suck!! When I smile, they are straight and white...but oh goodness, ever single one has a filling or root canal. I have really soft teeth!! I have personal experience with bad teeth...I think it is important to go into a field that you can relate to and understand people's problems.
If you don't have a solid answer, why do you want to apply to dental school? Applying to D school is a major commitment, especially in time commitments (a year long application process and 4 years of school after that) and a financial commitment (close to 1000 bucks to apply depending on the number of schools you apply to, not including travel to interviews, and a minimum of 100K in debt after that). There is also a very strong emotional commitment...those grueling days waiting for interviews and then waiting for a decision after the interview (which is even worse). Before you start committing to the D school application process, I'd make sure if I were you to have a very strong, personal reason to answer that question.
1) Lifestyle (4-5 days a week, normal hours, good pay to support a family).
2) Working with your hands. I would either be a Dentist or a car mechanic, I couldnt handle just doing paperwork all day long.
Those aren't all the reasons, but a couple good ones. Dont be scared to tell folks up front that a large reason that you are doing what you are doing is for the lifestyle. I think if you pussyfoot around it people, especially adcoms, are going to think you are full of it. Dont, however, let the lifestyle be your only reason. If it is, find something else to do. I think you will find out as you shadow a dentist or specialist where you could see yourself fitting in or not in the Dental world.
1) As others mentioned, the ability to work with your hands and be actively making someone feel better. IMO there is nothing better then seeing your work directly help someone. If I had chose medicine I would want to do surgery, but dentistry is like performing minor surgery everyday without the 6+ year residency!
2)Science and lifelong learning. I like science, I like people and I enjoy learning. Dentistry combines all these things.
3) Lifestyle. I'd say most if not all of us have this in our heads as one of the factors. Getting paid a pretty decent salary for 4 years of schools and no residency while working 4-5 days a week is pretty awesome! It might not matter to you now that you can work 20 hrs less a week then a physician, but when you have kids and a family you want to see (and golf to play!) then you will be so glad you chose dentistry.
FYI, I would probably not put the lifestyle factor in the reasons why you want to be a dentist. I'm sure schools would not be too keen to hear this at an interview/personal statement.
Good post, but I disagree with this last point. I mentioned it and I was accepted to a couple of schools. I will admit it is perhaps unpopular to admit that lifestyle (ie money) is a reason to go into dentistry, but everyone knows that it is. Go ahead and say that you want to save the world one cavity at a time and see how far that gets you. Personally, the only way I could write honestly about myself is write my true motivations.