INTERNATIONAL DENTAL MISSION TRIPS
The goal of International Medical Relief dental volunteers on our mission trips is to staff fully functional dental clinics around the world, providing free dental services for patients who have never had or had limited access to dental care. Globally, dental care is limited in developing nations. Providing this much-needed service improves the overall health of the communities IMR serves. Volunteer dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and dental students, plus highly interested non-dental volunteers all work together in our dental clinics to give our patients the care that they desperately need. We need dental volunteers for every international medical mission trip we take.
“The youngest patient of the day, a 4-year-old, arrived with a personal letter from his school’s principal. The principal wrote that the child had been to the hospital numerous times to get treatment, but for many reasons was turned away each time. The letter begged for us to admit him. Due to his age and diagnosis it was complex case, but my team and I were still able to extract one of his incisors – a baby tooth that was so infected that it caused the permanent tooth to emerge prematurely through the gums. We sent him home feeling much better. Talk about feeling a sense of fulfillment and making a difference!” Dr. Mor Bar, Panama IMR Alumni
On our mission trips, volunteer dentists focus primarily on meeting the greatest needs of our patients: performing examinations, extractions, restorations, treating abscesses, and referring patients for suspected oral cancers. Our dentists also provide restorations, sealants, and fluoride treatments, when possible. Our goal is far greater than simply treating the acute dental need today; our goal is to save teeth in the future by providing oral hygiene education and toothbrushes to our patients, and educating local dental students wherever possible.
Read about Dr. Matt Dunn’s dental mission trip to Ethiopia with International Medical Relief.
Volunteer hygienists perform preliminary oral examinations, patient cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants and much needed oral hygiene instruction. Most often this is the first oral cleaning that these patients have ever had! Their beautiful smiles sparkle even more when their hearts are touched by our wonderful volunteer hygienists.
Volunteer dental assistants are critical during our dental mission trips by providing chair-side care during dental procedures. They perform a variety of duties including patient management, patient registration, charting, fluoride treatments and support with instruments and sterilization. Patient comfort and peace of mind for family members are critical to the success of every dental clinic.
Our dental assistants help create a peaceful atmosphere in our dental clinics and stay with patients and family members throughout their experience. Post-operative instruction is also a very important role of our dental assistants as we want to ensure proper use of any medications as well as proper care of the area treated.
OFFICE TEAM – GROUP PRACTICE TRIP
Make this an experience for everyone to share! Serve in the comfort of having your own staff by your side by getting the whole office together. It’s also a great way to show your patients the dedication that you and your staff have to others, as well as offers a unique opportunity for you to bring the whole team together to fundraise for the experience. Offices find group trips with IMR a valuable opportunity not only to build up their team but identify their values to the patients they serve.
DENTAL & PRE-DENTAL STUDENTS
Volunteer pre-dental and dental students, mission trips with IMR provide an amazing learning opportunity. Dental students receive a residency experience with hands-on experience under boarded general dentists, specialists, and oral surgeons, and local providers on our global outreach dental mission trips. Pre-dental students have the chance to work alongside and shadow our dentists, providing assistance in patient care. We encourage pre-dental and dental students to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on experience, see the world, and impact communities in need, one smile at a time.
International Medical Relief is recommended by the American Dental Association. We are a featured volunteer organization with the ADA Foundation and serve the most countries of those organizations featured by the Foundation.
Being a second year pre-dental student, I have had my fair share of exposure to a variety of different dentist and orthodontist offices. However, none of these rival the experience that I had during my first day of dental clinic today on the Rio San Juan in Nicaragua. Upon arrival, we quickly set up dental clinic in a small room with two makeshift dental chairs and a sanitization station. Within twenty minutes, there was a large line of over thirty people outside our door. I was amazed that all of these people traveled to the IMR clinic with dental care as their primary concern! Our two dentists were so welcoming, and graciously allowed me to shadow and assist in any way possible!
The people standing in line outside ranged from ages 3 to 50, each anxiously awaiting their turn to be seen. Even more shocking than the sheer amount of people who were in need of dental care, was that EVERY single one of them needed one or more teeth extracted! I’d hold each patients hands the dentist instructed me to, while she slid the needle to administer the anesthetic into their gums. Keeping their hands in mine was not only a means of comfort, but also to keep them from swatting up to their face in reaction to the events which could disrupt the procedure. One patient who truly stood out to me was a woman traveling alone who came in to get the last 3 teeth she had on the bottom extracted. After some debating between the dentist, the woman our doctor as the interpreter over what the best course of action would be, the teeth were removed in anticipation of her receiving a denture in the near future.
I also took a special liking to a mother and her two children who were the second group to come in. She spoke very little English, but through facial expressions and hand gestures she repeatedly expressed how thankful she was for our help. It touched my heart to watch her eyes on her son as his he kept a brave face on, squeezing my hand only out of reflex at the last second as the dentist pulled his front tooth out. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched her give two big thumbs up through the procedure of getting her own molars extracted, to her daughter sitting with a worried look across the room.
The common factor among each patient was a positive attitude and an immense gratitude for the help. I was expecting to have a perspective altering first day of clinic today, but my experience was above and beyond that, which makes me so excited to see what the next week has in store.”
Avery, Pre-Dental Student