Dental Volunteer Abroad & Medical Mission Trips | Dentists & Students
Updated for 2017
Calling all dentists, dental hygienists, or students aspiring to work in the dental health field-- there are dental volunteer projects that need your skills and passion for helping others! As dental health is often one of the most critically underserved healthcare fields in many countries, there are people all over the world who are in desperate need of your abilities.
In some countries, there are few opportunities for adults and children to have access to dental care and oral hygiene education. However, there are many great projects that are mobilizing skilled volunteers like yourself to maintain smiles across the globe.
In this article, we’ll strive to give you a comprehensive snapshot into what overseas dental volunteering abroad is like, point you towards some of the dental volunteer projects, like the International Volunteer HQ dental project in Peru, that are most recommended by our volunteers, and give you a bit of advice from volunteers just like you.
Dental Volunteering Abroad: What’s Involved?
Since dental volunteering encompasses a very broad range of work and activities, volunteer experiences could vary based on location, the needs of the local population, the specific mission of the volunteer abroad project, and the skills that you bring to the table. Typical activities that a dental health volunteer may partake in include:
Preventative dental care
Dental health education (brushing and flossing techniques, etc.)
Common pediatric oral care procedures
Dental health screenings
Root canals and scaling
Support to dental hygienists
Maintenance of dental equipment
Other support roles associated with running a mobile dental clinic
Specialized oral health practices such as maxillofacial or orthodontics
Who Can Serve:
In many cases, volunteer abroad projects don’t just accept established dentists or dental hygienists. Most organizations, such as affordably-priced International Volunteer HQ, are absolutely willing to accept other volunteers as well as pre-dental students who are able to donate their time, passion for helping others, and skills to a good cause. After all, maintaining a dental clinic cannot just be accomplished by the dental surgery team itself-- there are many support roles that are ideal for unskilled volunteers or volunteers coming from another occupation.
However, there are some guidelines that dental students and other responsible volunteers should uphold when volunteering for oral health, such as these guidelines (PDF Download) recommended by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). Guidelines such as these are important not just because they establish professional standards for international volunteer work, but also because they help volunteers build expectations of what kinds of work they can reasonably be asked to do in a dental volunteer abroad project in regards to their level of experience.
A few things to point out:
Even though you and your volunteer abroad organization may have the best of intentions, underprepared and untrained dental volunteers can have a negative impact on local communities. This negative impact could look like or include harm done to the patient, the volunteer, legal issues with local authorities, and the potential for being involved with a fraudulent company or a scam volunteer abroad placement organization. ADEA warns dental and pre-dental students that being involved with shady international dental work could damage the student’s future acceptance into dental schools.
Pre-dental students and other non-qualified volunteers should only accept clinical experiences in which they are asked to observe and support outside of the operating room, not assist with procedures. Pre-dental students may want to look for programs that cater specifically to students because these programs are much more likely to have a deep understanding of what activities are appropriate for students. These organizations will also have more experience with the educational facet of volunteering abroad, and may have a precedent set for how they work with universities to exchange college credit for the hours that students work.
All volunteers, regardless of their skill level, should always keep the welfare of the patient foremost in their mind-- not their own opportunity for experience or what they think may help the patient. In other words, leave any decision-making to the actual professionals. Sometimes volunteering abroad isn’t as hands-on as many volunteers imagine, but the benefits to the local community are always clear.
Nevertheless, the sector for volunteering abroad for dentistry is highly sophisticated and, in many cases, projects work in conjunction with professional organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA) or the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) to make sure that all international dental projects are held to the highest standards for medical and dental care.
Understanding Volunteer Trip Costs
As you’re researching medical mission trip opportunities, keep in mind that you may be responsible for a variety of costs related to your trip. Potential costs include:
Miscellaneous In-country expenses
In order to keep your costs down, consider choosing an affordable, high-quality program such as Volunteering Solutions, which offers dental placements in Peru, Tanzania, and India.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that medical mission trip participants can be very successful when it comes to fundraising for their trip or applying to volunteer abroad scholarship and grants. For example, the medical mission organization, International Service Learning, has over 300 fundraisers on Volunteer Forever! Fundraisers such as Charley, Alicia, and Kendra have each raised over $3,500 for their trip. While the costs to volunteering abroad can seem high, remember that there are numerous funding opportunities to help offset the cost!
Ready To Go?
Now that you’re all on board to volunteer and filled in as to what you should expect, we want to point you towards ten projects that might be a perfect fit for you. These projects have been especially well-recommended by our volunteers and work tirelessly to help volunteers make a better world. For each organization, we’ll give you a basic breakdown of the organization itself, a look into its specific dental volunteer project, and a few attributes that make each project shine. Keep reading to find the perfect volunteer project for you!
Featured Program: International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ)
The Basics of IVHQ: International Volunteer HQ provides over 150 safe, affordable projects in 30+ destinations throughout the world. IVHQ partners with local NGOs and organizations in a partnership in which high-quality, skilled volunteers join a variety of different kinds of local projects. Volunteers can expect to volunteer anywhere from one week to six months.
Before volunteers depart from their home country, IVHQ provides a free, intensive online training that help prepare volunteers for life in their home country, their specific roles as a volunteer, and the intricacies of the project that the volunteers will be working with. All volunteers are expected to complete this training prior to leaving their home country to align their expectations with the realities of being an international volunteer.
Project Details: IVHQ has a variety of dentistry projects available through its local partners throughout the world. Volunteers participating in their dentistry and health projects work as part of state-of-the-art local clinics under the guidance of trained local and international dental professionals.
Depending on the volunteer’s level of training and experience, volunteers typically assist the dental team with anything from supporting local clinic staff with patient management to working as part of an experienced, licensed team to complete common dental procedures. IVHQ especially encourages pre-dental and dental medical students as programs are specifically planned for the experience level of the volunteer. For some projects, a basic understanding of the local language may be preferred. Apply here for their dental volunteer projects.
Featured Program: Love Volunteers
The Basics of Love Volunteers: Love Volunteers is one of the fastest growing and affordable volunteer abroad organizations in the world, with more than 20,000 travelers placed on meaningful programs worldwide since 2009. They currently host more than 150 projects in 34 countries around the world – in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas – and just in the past year, they sent more than 4,000 travelers abroad.
Project Details: Right now, Love Volunteers has volunteer and internship programs for dentists and dentistry students in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, where you’ll work in clinics, outpatient centers, and hospitals alongside other medical and healthcare professionals and volunteers. Depending on your level of experience and whether you have certifications, you may shadow a local dentist, prepare and sterilize equipment, carry out maintenance duties in the clinic or hospital, visit schools and community centers to educate about oral hygiene, and even directly assist dentists with their work. To learn more about dental volunteer programs with Love Volunteers, click here.
Featured Program: Maxmo Nivel
Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel offers a variety of programs in Latin America for travelers who want to volunteer, intern abroad, teach abroad - or get TEFL certification - study abroad, or learn Spanish. Since its founding, 25,000 travelers have signed up with Maximo Nivel, which offers very affordable placements in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru starting from just $595 for one week abroad. Right now, Maximo Nivel is offering several placements for students and professionals interested in dentistry.
Maximo Nivel offers two volunteer programs for those interested in medical and healthcare practices, depending on your background and qualifications.
The healthcare volunteering option is open to pre-med students, students in years 1 and 2 in medical school, nursing school students, or those studying health sciences. Placements are available in specialized living facilities, and you’ll likely work with patients who are physically or mentally disabled, elderly, or affected by HIV. As a volunteer, you’ll assist staff with caring for patients, including general care, distributing medications, and helping with workshops covering a variety of areas, including dental care.
Maximo Nivel’s medical volunteer placement, on the other hand, is open to students in years 3 or 4 of medical school, and to licensed professionals. Through this placement, you’ll be able to work in a hospital, clinic, or assisted living facility alongside doctors, nurses, or other local professionals. Your responsibilities will vary depending on your background, and you’ll be able to shadow a medical professional while gaining hands-on experience in the dental field while learning about medical practices in Latin America.
If you’re interested in pursuing an internship abroad, Maximo Nivel’s medical internship invites you to visit Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru for four weeks or longer while gaining experience and learning about medical practices in Latin America.
As an intern, you’ll be placed in a hospital, clinic, private practice, or assisted living facility, while working along with a local medical professional to learn more about their work. Your tasks will vary depending on what’s needed at your program site, but can include consultations, health education, and administrative assistance - internships specifically focusing on dental care are available on a limited basis. To sign up, you must have intermediate Spanish language background and you must be enrolled in a college or university program in the medical, healthcare, or dental field, or be a licensed medical professional.
Featured Program: Volunteering Solutions
The Basics of Volunteering Solutions: Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) is an international volunteer organization that was started in 2006. Since 2007, they have hosted over 10,000 volunteers in projects across 20+ countries, including popular destinations such as Nepal, India, Thailand, South Africa, Peru, and Costa Rica. Volunteering Solution's volunteer projects are among the most affordably priced in the world, starting at $200 USD for one week. In addition to their 120+ volunteer projects, Volunteering Solutions also offers intern abroad opportunities, the highlight of which are their dental and medical internships. To learn more about Volunteering Solutions and apply to their program, visit their website here.
Project Details: Volunteering Solutions is a good choice for pre-dental and dental students looking for exciting volunteer and internship opportunities abroad at an affordable price. Depending on the location, Volunteering Solutions places students anywhere from the dental departments of large urban hospitals to a rural dental clinic at a village school. Dental students get a wonderful opportunity to work with and learn from dental professionals while learning to provide care in situations very different from their home environments. This can be a huge boost to the dental careers of many students as they get unique and differentiating hands-on work experience in an international environment.
As part of Volunteering Solutions’ medical volunteer program in Tanzania, dentistry students and professionals are welcome to sign up to work in the dental department of a large hospital in Arusha. You’ll have the opportunity to work alongside local professionals and learn about dental practices in Africa while gaining hands-on experience to help further your studies and career. This program starts from one week at just $290, and you’re invited to stay eight weeks or longer to learn the most from your experience in Tanzania.
Through this program, you’ll have the chance to work in a dental clinic in the Dharamsala region of India. This is an excellent placement for dental students who want to gain experience in the field while learning from and shadowing a local professional. You’ll be able to assist with basic tasks or even assist with extractions, fillings, and scalings, depending on your educational experience and comfort level. This internship program lasts two weeks or longer, and starts from $750.
Another excellent internship you can take on as a dental student is Volunteering Solutions’ dental elective in Peru. Similar to the elective in India, this internship invites you to shadow a local professional and assist with tasks such as sterilization of supplies and assisting with hands-on tasks such as cleanings, extractions, and more, depending on your background experience. As an intern, you’ll also have the chance to visit public schools and kindergartens to teach about oral hygiene practices. This internship starts from two weeks at just $580, and you’re invited to stay eight weeks or longer.
Featured Program: A Broader View Volunteers
The Basics of A Broader View: Based in Pennsylvania, A Broader View Volunteers (ABV) coordinates volunteer abroad projects all over the world. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, ABV offers support through every aspect of volunteers’ travel and prides themselves on their commitment to service. Although ABV coordinates a broad range of volunteer abroad trips, pre-dental students will be especially interested in their pre-dental volunteer abroad excursions.
Project Details: Depending on their specific project, ABV volunteers have the opportunity to participate in procedures under a trained dental professional.
For example, volunteers participating in the La Mesa, Colombia dental volunteer project will have the oppotunity to work as part of a oral health hospital staff assisting with procedures such as extractions, endodontics, root canals, and participating in oral hygiene education ventures within the community. Volunteers must be currently enrolled in a dental course at an accredited university and are expected to bring their own scrubs and basic dental tools. Pre-dental students or other volunteers are welcome to apply, but will only be allowed to observe and support dental professionals away from the procedure room.
A Volunteer’s Review of A Broader View Volunteers: Logan
“I had a great time in La Ceiba, Honduras. I did not feel unsafe or threatened at any time. My work was great and fulfilling at both the old hospital and the school.
My host family was excellent and accommodating, and the food – especially the local food – was very delectable.
All of the people, from the children to the patients at the hospital were very nice and respectful. I had a lot of fun with the other volunteers and I highly recommend being outgoing and personable… it will make you life way easier if you can hang out with friends and commiserate after a long day of work.
I had very good Spanish entering into the program, but after 2 weeks of immersion my Spanish is crisp and fluent; I truly valued the ABV experience as a life-changing event. I am willing to speak with others about my experience. “
Featured Program: Projects Abroad
The Basics of Projects Abroad: Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world, sending over 10,000 volunteers and interns to projects abroad each year. Despite its large size, Projects Abroad guarantees that all volunteers will have more than adequate in-country support as they complete their experience. As one of the most highly reviewed volunteer abroad organizations on Volunteer Forever, volunteers are continually impressed by Projects Abroad widespread knowledge in the field as well as their close-knit local connections.
Project Details: Requirements for volunteers and interns vary by location. Most internships require that participants be at least 18 years old and language requirements of preferences vary by country. Depending on the location and the specific dental project, volunteers may work with local staff in clinics that provide basic or specialized dental care. Many clinics cater to underserved or indigent populations in their countries with the mission that all people deserve to have outstanding oral health care. Intern and volunteer duties vary by the participant’s qualifications, experience, and education level as well as the needs of the local partner organizations.
A Volunteer’s Review of Projects Abroad: Blake Norton
“I had the opportunity to volunteer abroad this summer for five weeks in Moldova with Projects Abroad. Having volunteered abroad numerous times with various organizations, this was one of my best experiences by far.
The staff at Projects Abroad Moldova went beyond my expectations and made this placement such a success. In fact, their preparedness and hospitality really sets them apart from other organizations. When I first arrived until the day I left they were in contact with me every day to make sure that everything was going smoothly and that I was comfortable with everything from going to work alone everyday, to working in my placement to getting along with my host family...the best part about Projects Abroad Moldova is that they make you feel not only welcomed to Moldova, but a part of their country and as if you are family.
I strongly recommend this organization to anyone! “
Created in 2014, Volunteering Journeys is a fast-growing volunteer organization that offers placements throughout Asia and Africa. The founder’s story informs and inspires Volunteering Journeys’ work as well: after leaving her job as an investment banker in London, founder Ridhi Patel volunteered for three months in South Africa. This experience proved to be life-changing, and shortly after, she began building Volunteering Journeys in her home country of India, with a goal to engage travelers who wish to explore the world, give back to their communities, and learn more about themselves.
Volunteering Journeys provides personal attention and tailored trips for all volunteers, commits to high-quality service, and engages scientists, doctors, teachers, and community leaders on all of its programs. If you’re interested in a dental volunteer program, Volunteering Journeys offers several placements you should check out in India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka.
Suitable both for dental students and pre-dental students, this program invites you to Dharamsala or Kerala, India, where you’ll have the chance to gain practical experience in dentistry. Through this placement, you’ll work in a local hospital or dental clinic alongside dentists and other professionals to provide hands-on assistance with their work. This challenging and adventurous program starts from two weeks at about $940. Learn more here.
International Service Learning
Project Locations: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Tanzania
The Basics of International Service Learning (ISL): ISL provides a broad range of medical volunteer opportunities to professionals and untrained volunteers alike throughout parts of Central America, South America, and Africa. Through its broad mission, ISL aims to “support cultural awareness, service-based learning, and sustainable development projects through experiential and responsible volunteer travel programs that inspire local and global service.” As ISL specializes in skilled or occupational volunteer abroad placements, its medical, nursing, and dentistry programs are perfect for established professionals or students looking for an in-depth work opportunity in their field.
Project Details: Because dental care is not usually included in socialized health care programs, many people, especially children have limited access to dental care and can go without seeing a dentist for much of their childhood. Thus, ISL’s Dental Volunteerism program focuses on bringing dentistry to children in underserved communities.
As ISL respects all of the ADEA’s guidelines for international dentistry volunteerism (see above), all volunteers are supervised by local dental experts as they assist in screenings, common dental procedures, and conducting oral health educational seminars in the surrounding communities. All volunteers must be at least eighteen years old and volunteers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as ISL’s 9 to 14 opportunities per year usually fill up quickly. Unless specifically stated in the project description, there is no previous experience required.
A Volunteer’s Review of ISL: Kathleen Pifer
“I went to Costa Rica three weeks ago and the trip was the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. It was so incredibly inspiring, and just validated how much I want to do health care. The team leader and his assistant were amazing as well. They gave inspirational speeches and made sure we experienced everything we could in regards to health care, to the type of poverty they have there, and to Costa Rica itself. I felt safe the whole time, and there were no issues while I was there... “
Project: VIDA Volunteer Travel
Project Locations: Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua
The Basics of VIDA: VIDA Volunteer Volunteer provides volunteers with specialty skills to communities that generally do not have steady access to healthcare. Volunteers work alongside qualified dental professionals to provide healthcare to underserved communities. Per VIDA’s policy, volunteers should expect their trip to have a strong focus on cultural integration and be willing to fully experience life in their host community for their stay. Volunteers are housed with host families and get the benefit of understanding the community both as a healthcare provider and as a guest. VIDA works with local clinic coordinators to place volunteers in positions that align with their skills and the community’s needs.
Project Details: Since many people in Central America do not have regular access to dental care, VIDA works to bring dedicated dentistry professionals and dentistry volunteers to low-income communities. Volunteers are given, based on their experience and level of qualification, work that is extremely rewarding both to the patient and the volunteer. Dentistry volunteers have a highly individualized experience, ranging from working primarily to educate communities about preventative oral care to taking part in intensive dental procedures. In order to plan their experience, volunteers are encouraged to apply early so that their experience fits them to the highest degree.
A Volunteer’s Review of VIDA: Erica Miller
“I cannot say enough good words about my experiences with VIDA! I participated on two trips with VIDA- one to Costa Rica and Nicaragua and more recently my trip to Guatemala. Both trips were beyond amazing and I learned SO much!
To this day, I still keep in contact with staff members from my first VIDA trip two years ago! I also really appreciated how we had non-clinical days dedicated to exploring the culture we were immersed in- something I think is essential to better understand the patient population we were working with. Without hesitation, I would recommend VIDA to anyone interested in healthcare! It clearly benefits the volunteers immensely, and more importantly provides much needed health care to impoverished communities. Thanks VIDA!”
Project: Global Dental Relief
Project Locations: Kenya, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, India, and Guatemala
The Basics of Global Dental Relief: Global Dental Relief (GDR) brings together medically trained dental professionals with other volunteers from all works of life to provide high-quality dental care to the children of underserved communities around the world. Dental volunteers work in safe, basic field clinics that use mobile dental units to provide dental exams, extractions, and restorative care. Non-trained volunteers support dental professionals by assisting with administrative work, providing patient education support, and helping maintain dental instruments. Before volunteers leave the country, they have the opportunity to travel the region with their volunteer group and are encouraged to partake as much as they can in the unique local culture of their communities.
Project Details: GDR coordinates volunteer projects in six different countries across the globe and partners with local organizations to maintain mobile dental clinics. Typical clinics employ up to five trained and certified dentists, three dental hygienists, and ten non-dental volunteers. Mobile dental clinics work eight to nine hour days for typically about five to six days and can serve anywhere between 500 and 1000 children depending on the length of care. Project schedules can be found on GDR’s website, along with information about itineraries and trip costs.
Project: Health Volunteers Overseas
Project Locations: Cambodia, Kenya, Laos, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, and Tanzania
The Basics of Health Volunteers Overseas: Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) is a well-established volunteer abroad organization with the mission of improving the quality and availability of healthcare to underserved communities across the globe. While HVO began as a team of doctors dedicated to global health over 28 years ago, it is now one of the most prominent healthcare focused volunteer abroad organizations in the industry.
All HVO projects are staffed by highly-qualified healthcare professionals who are held to the highest standards in communicating with patients and respecting the traditions and cultural beliefs of the host country. Whenever possible, HVO aims to educate local personnel as to widen the impact of their relief efforts. HVO coordinates oral care projects in six different countries that operate on a rotating schedule based on the needs and availability of local personnel. Each of HVO’s oral care projects have their own specific goals and methods and volunteers are encouraged to conduct research so that they can assess to see which project and location fits them best. HVO’s oral health relief efforts are sponsored by the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) and The American Dental Association (ADA).
Project Details: Although many countries have socialized or government-supported health care systems, oral health care is often not supported and thus unaffordable for many of the country’s poor or even middle-class citizens. So, volunteers play a vital role in making sure that all people are able to receive the dentistry that they deserve. All HVO volunteers are required to undergo an application process that has multiple steps and may require more than one approval for a volunteer to be placed. Volunteers are encouraged to begin their application as early as possible to allow for all steps of the placement process to be carefully coordinated. Volunteer placements vary by location and may last anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on the position and the needs of the volunteer.
Project: Mercy Ships
Project Locations: Guinea, Republic of the Congo, and Madagascar
The Basics of Mercy Ships: When it comes to volunteer abroad projects, Mercy Ships has a very unique operating model. Most of its volunteers, support staff, and care facilities are housed on large, mobile ships that provide medical services as they stop at each international port. Since its founding in 1978, Mercy Ships has provided medical services to over 2.48 million of the world’s most underserved people in different ports throughout Africa. Although Mercy Ships houses state-of-the-art medical facilities within its large ship, Africa Mercy, it also utilizes volunteers to operate mobile dental clinics and community health education projects. Mercy Ships operates with an average crew of 450 people and is in the process of welcoming its second ship that will be operational in 2017.
Project Details: Mercy Ships fills positions as volunteers cycle out of their work, but is in frequent and urgent need of trained and licensed dentists and dental hygienists. All vacancies are updated regularly and can be checked online. All dentists and dental hygienists work under a full-time, permanent Lead Dentist who is responsible for coordinating mobile inland dental clinics. For applicants applying to be dentists and dental assistants, Mercy Ships requires a minimum two week commitment, and volunteers are encouraged to inquire about port dates before they plan their trip. All dental assistants must have at least one year’s experience with common dental procedures and dental equipment. Mercy Ships requires that all dentists have active or current practicing licenses within their home country.
Project: Work the World
Project Locations: Tanzania, Ghana, Nepal, Mauritius, Philippines
The Basics of World the World: Work the World specializes in bringing experiential overseas internships to students and graduate students in medical fields. Work the World has local partners in countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Work the World has over ten years of experience in the international volunteer abroad industry and has organized over 5,000 internships overseas. Since Work the World specializes in medical internship placements, they have a wealth of knowledge pertaining to making sure that all medical placements are fully vetted and that the volunteers are supported during every step of their journey.
Project Details: Each of Work the World’s dental projects is especially tailored to the participant’s specialization, status in their training (undergrad, grad school, etc.), and to the needs of the individual volunteer. Internships for dental students are designed to strengthen both the clinics that the interns work for and give the intern valuable professional development that will benefit their career for years to come. Since dental health is not always a priority for the local population due to the high level of poverty, interns provide clinic support that makes dental care a reality for many local families. As part of a safe and accredited local clinic, interns may participate in general dentistry procedures such as scalings, extractions, fillings, and root canal work. There are also specialist placements in oral cancer, maxillofacial, and surgery.
Project: Gap Medics
Project Locations: Tanzania, Croatia, Poland, Thailand
The Basics of Gap Medics: Gap Medics is a volunteer abroad organization that specializes in physician shadowing programs. Volunteers, often pre-medical, pre-dental, or nursing students, shadow local physicians across the world who are masters in their field. Participants have the opportunity to be a part of safe, high-volume clinics that serve underserved and often indigent populations. Gap Medics takes its charge to educate students very seriously as seeks to combine quality health care instruction with real-world experiences designed to help students grow and develop useful occupational skills. Although most projects are designed for the single volunteer, group bookings are available on request.
Project Details: For its pre-dentistry volunteer abroad programs, Gap Medics accepts applicants of any level of background knowledge, but specializes their programs so that they are especially beneficial for high school students interested in a medical career, university students, or early-career graduate students. Students benefit from at least 23 hours of hospital shadowing per week, which allows volunteers to have a fulfilling internship experience while also having plenty of time to explore their local culture. As programs often fill up many months ahead of time, Gap Medics recommends that interested applicants apply as soon as possible. Programs are available from one to eight weeks, although most participants stay between two and four weeks. There are no language requirements, as each participant has a fully bilingual hospital mentor who is there to support them.
Let’s Sum It Up
Dental volunteering is a unique opportunity for volunteers, whether they are trained in the oral health care field or not, to make a difference in the oral health needs of children and families across the globe.
If you’re an established dental professional, using your skills to volunteer abroad may be the perfect way for you to do what you love while having the opportunity to work in a new environment and possibly even in a different field. For established dental professionals, volunteering abroad allows for an opportunity to spread your valuable skills and knowledge to a population that would not usually have access to them.
For dental or pre-dental students, volunteering abroad allows you to observe your field in its most basic role-- to help people. As oral health care is so difficult to obtain in many parts of the world, dental volunteers are a response to what, for many communities, is a very important need.
Although dental volunteering has many assets that other unskilled volunteer abroad opportunities may not possess, volunteering abroad for dentistry still has all of the benefits that come with service near or far. One of the most beautiful benefits of volunteering abroad isn’t the service provided, but the people who you are able to serve. When you volunteer abroad, changing the world becomes personal. As you live in communities all around the world, there is an irreplaceable intimacy that forms when you change the lives of your patients, neighbors, and friends. However, it’s critical to keep in mind that the patients that you serve are intended to be the primary beneficiaries of your volunteer abroad service; as such, be sure to pay special attention to programs that abide by ADEA guidelines.
For serial volunteers, its understood that it’s impossible to be satisfied with just one volunteer trip, and we hope that this experience will deepen your dedication to your profession and desire to serve people in ways that are new, exciting, and help remind you just why you chose the field you did.
Now that you’re informed, it’s time to get on board with setting up your Volunteer Forever profile, applying to your project, and fundraising to make your service a reality. Hopefully, this article will make choosing the perfect project for you a lot easier as you begin your dental or pre-dental volunteer abroad journey. If you've got a big heart, but a little wallet, check out our list of affordable volunteer abroad programs!
P.S. If you're still looking for a volunteer opportunity, check out our list of best volunteer abroad programs and recommended volunteer projects in Africa, Central America, and Thailand. You can also read about 7 Great Medical and Veterinary Volunteer Abroad Projects, 10 Dental Volunteer Abroad Program and Medical Mission Tips for Pre Dental Students, and nursing volunteer abroad projects for students and nurse professionals. Or, if medical volunteer projects aren't for you, be sure to read about our sports and coaching volunteer abroad, wildlife conservation and veterinary abroad, teach abroad, and intern abroad programs. Lastly, if you're under 18, you may be interested in a teen volunteer abroad program from one of our many great partners.
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