Who can volunteer on a dental mission trip abroad?

Global Dental Relief welcomes people of all ages, occupations, nationalities, and backgrounds to join us and volunteer abroad! Anyone with a love for children, a spirit of adventure and a passion to make a difference in the world is welcome on a volunteer mission trip.

You do not have to be a dental professional to volunteer in a GDR dental clinic!

What is the typical group size for a volunteer trip?

Group sizes vary depending on clinic location. In general, group sizes range from 16 to 18 volunteers. Small Adventure trips feature smaller teams of up to 10 volunteers.

Each clinic is also staffed with two experienced GDR Trip Leaders. A typical group includes volunteer opportunities for five to seven dentists, one to two licensed dental hygienists and roughly 10 general volunteers. General volunteers can be dental assistants, dental students (including pre-dental and pre-dental hygiene) or individuals with no medical background at all!

I would like to volunteer with my family/friends/coworkers. Is that an option?

Absolutely! GDR hosts a variety of groups on our volunteer mission trips each year. Trips can accommodate 5 dentists, 1-2 hygienists and 8 general volunteers.

Contact our office directly if you are interested in volunteering with a large group (5 or more people).

Is there a minimum age requirement to volunteer internationally?

The minimum age to volunteer overseas is 14. For families with youth under the age of 14, please call our office and speak with one of our Country Coordinators directly.

It is important to remember that GDR clinics are fast-paced and require a fair amount of physical activity. Children under the age of 14 often have a hard time adjusting to the field conditions (no AC, hot/humid climates, long workdays, etc.) found at GDR’s volunteer abroad programs.

If a volunteer is under the age of 18, they must be accompanied by a legal guardian or adult chaperone to go abroad.

What skills do I need to volunteer in a dental mission trip?

The most important skills needed to volunteer internationally are an open mind and a willingness to be a team player and work hard!

GDR has volunteer opportunities for dentists, hygienists and non-medical volunteers. We require our clinical volunteers to be fully licensed. We follow all guidelines set forth by the ADA® (American Dental Association) in terms of licensure.

General volunteers are trained on-site during the project briefing.

GDR does not require previous volunteer experience. Dental students and hygiene students are welcome to volunteer in our mission trips.

All global volunteers are trained in Global Dental Relief’s model of care at the beginning of each service trip and supported throughout the entire project.

How far in advance do I need to sign up to volunteer in GDR’s short-term volunteer projects?

Global Dental Relief volunteer programs often fill up six to eight months in advance. We encourage our volunteers to register and submit a deposit as early as possible! For folks who are interested in a specific clinic but need time to plan, we are happy to save your place for up to two weeks.

Last minute openings do occur — contact our office directly to find out if there is an opening on a specific volunteer trip.
GDR operates 30 clinics a year – click below to view our schedule of volunteer opportunities:

Can I fundraise money for my dental mission trip?

Yes! GDR strives to provide affordable dental volunteer opportunities. Many Global Dental Relief volunteers successfully fundraise all or a portion of their volunteer program fees. Volunteers interested in fundraising can refer to our Guide to Volunteer Fundraising packet for tips and support.

Additionally, we provide a personal payment link for all volunteers to make fundraising easy and user friendly for those who wish to contribute!

Once you have registered for a project, your Country Coordinator will work with you directly to put together a fundraising or payment plan that is right for you.

Global Dental Relief will provide a tax letter for all donations over $25.

Any funds raised using third party platforms (GoFundMe, Facebook, etc.) are not eligible for tax deductible receipts from Global Dental Relief.

Are my expenses tax-deductible?

GDR is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in the United States. This allows a portion of your project fee and airfare to be tax deductible. At the conclusion of your volunteer program, our office provides a tax letter to each volunteer. Your tax adviser will be able to help you determine the appropriate percentage.

Does GDR have volunteer dental programs in the US?

Yes! Global Dental Relief started working at our first domestic dental clinic location in 2021. Surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, volunteers work in a rural community where 60% of children live without access to dentistry. The closest dentist is a two-hour drive, and many in the community lack both transportation as well as the resources to pay for care. Days are spent working in the clinic, while evenings are spent enjoying the local trails, mountain scenery and regional history in this bucolic setting. Working in collaboration with SmileFaith, a 501(c)(3) organization, volunteers provide dental care to children in and around Jenkins, Kentucky.

The project lasts eight days, which includes: travel time to Kentucky, orientation and five days working in the dental clinic.

Where can I volunteer overseas?

Global Dental Relief offers volunteer opportunities in 6 different countries outside the US – in Kenya, India, Nepal, Guatemala, Mexico, and Cambodia.

Each international volunteer location provides a unique short-term volunteer opportunity and immersion in the local culture. Whether you prefer more rugged or comfortable voluntourism opportunities, GDR has a mission trip abroad that is right for you!

Check out our different trip styles here!

Can I volunteer abroad as a student?

Global Dental Relief’s volunteer abroad programs offer a unique opportunity for students to join a short term dental volunteer program to prepare them for their future career! Students work alongside licensed dentists and hygienists, gaining firsthand clinical experience and connecting with their chosen career in a brand-new light.

All students join GDR mission trips as general volunteers. You can find more information about student volunteer duties here.

Global Dental Relief follows all guidelines set forth by the American Dental Association® (ADA). Any volunteer performing dental procedures inside our field dental clinics must be fully licensed at the time of the project. Fourth- and fifth-year dental student volunteers are not allowed to practice dentistry on our dental mission trips.

We also have several scholarship opportunities available for students! To find out more information on our scholarship programs, click here.

Does GDR accept donated dental supplies?

GDR welcomes donations of dental supplies used in general dentistry. Donations can be sent to our office in Denver or brought by volunteers directly to a service trip with prior confirmation with the office.
Supplies & Equipment Needed for our Dental Service Trips:

  1. Fluoride Varnish
  2. Anesthetic
  3. Amalgam
  4. Sealant and Etch material
  5. Composite material
  6. Instruments
    • Mirrors
    • Carvers
    • Explorers
    • Spoon excavators
    • Round burnishes
    • Condensers (small)
    • Surgical instruments (most common varieties only)
  7. Slow and high-speed handpieces
  8. Cavitron tips
  9. Supplies — The project uses a wide variety of common supplies including:
    • Face Masks
    • Gloves (all sizes)
    • Gauze
    • Bibs
    • Bibs clips
    • Dental floss
    • Small equipment — Ultrasonic cleaners, amalgamators, Cavitron units, curing lights
    • Toothbrushes

Please note: We are unable to accept expired donations.

Wolfgang Pfannenstiel

What Volunteers Say

After my first dental volunteer trip I was sure to do this continuously no matter what! This is helping kids in need effectively. This is having enjoyable conversations with new friends. This is creating unforgettable memories. So in my specific case the letters GDR stand for the German Dentist Returns :)”

- Wolfgang Pfannenstiel, Dentist, Germany

Darshani Khosla

What Partners Say

Global Dental Relief makes sure children are receiving continuous care and that clinics are run efficiently and with the highest ethical standards. They take care of every detail on your service trip — I plan to volunteer with them for years to come!

- Darshani Khosla, Dentist, Texas

Carol Lim

What Volunteers Say

Thank you Global Dental Relief! Nothing compares to the efforts and impact of your volunteer overseas programs, working hard to bring healthy smiles to children.

- Carol Lim, Vice President of Business Development, Cranberry U.S.A

TJ Gabriels

What Volunteers Say

I plan my whole year around these opportunities to volunteer abroad. I love travel with a purpose, being more than a tourist and making a small, positive mark in the world. This organization has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and has really helped broaden my world view.

- TJ Gabriels, Lawyer and General Volunteer, New York

Michael Pasoff

What Volunteers Say

As a dentist, I have treated and cared for many patients, however, nothing can compare to the sense of fulfilment when volunteering your time and skill to ease the pain and suffering of others. It never ceases to amaze me what can be accomplished when surrounded by dedicated, caring and talented volunteers, such as those I met in past international dental clinics with GDR.

- Michael Pasoff, Dentist, Montreal, Canada

Nour Shehadeh

What Volunteers Say

I am honored and grateful to help these amazing children, meet incredible people, explore their culture and change children's lives for the better. I look forward to many service trips with GDR in the future.

- Nour Shehadeh, Dental Hygienist, Illinois

Peggy Lamm

What Volunteers Say

If you want to literally change lives, this is a great way to do that. Our work with Global Dental Relief produced more real good than all the other cumulative good works I've helped with through the rest of my life.

- Peggy Lamm, CEO Colorado Mesa University Foundation and General Volunteer, Colorado