Global Dental Relief welcomes volunteer dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and dental/hygiene students to join our volunteer teams travelling to six countries: Nepal, India, Guatemala, Cambodia, Kenya, and Mexico.

In partnership with local organizations, field clinics are set up at schools and municipal facilities, with the exception of Kenya, where clinics are held in a local medical center. In these clinics:

  • Children receive exams
  • Restorations and extractions are performed as needed
  • Cleanings are given when possible
  • Fluoride treatments, sealants and oral health instruction are given
  • Care is provided to restore permanent teeth, and children are recalled every two years to ensure long-term health

A typical clinic has six to seven dental chairs and is staffed by a volunteer team of 12 to 18 people. Volunteer teams include up to five dentists, three hygienists and 10 assistants and general volunteers. Clinics operate eight to nine hours per day for five to six days. Between 500 and 1,000 patients are served, depending on the amount of care each child needs.

For more general information, head to our Frequently Asked Questions page, and if you want to volunteer with your family, get more details on our Family Page.

By signing the volunteer service application, you agree to the clinic treatment protocol and use of materials.

I am a licensed general dentist, what will I do? +

Dentists perform exams, restorations and extractions as needed. Dentists work alongside an assistant who carries out normal chairside duties, including charting as well as instrument and suction support. Some assistants may be highly trained, and some may be relatively new to the role.

Clinic Setting
Dental clinics are set up in a school or community room and provide free dental care to children (ages 6 to 15 years) from surrounding schools. Global Dental Relief provides portable dental units and all the instruments and supplies necessary to perform restorations, extractions, sealants, and preventive care.

Clinics maintain an efficient pace, which allow us to treat an average of 100 children per day. Teachers bring the children to the clinic classroom by classroom. An intake dentist performs an exam, makes the treatment plan and numbs the child with local anesthetic. The child then waits for their turn to be treated by one of the dentists.

Treatment
We treat primary teeth only in cases of abscess by doing an extraction. Otherwise, we leave teeth in as placeholders. We do not fill primary teeth, instead devoting our limited time and resources to saving permanent teeth.

Due to field conditions and long-term access to care, we use amalgam for most fillings. Exceptions are made in the case of anterior restorations, which are done on a limited basis. There are a variety of liners/bases provided for your use in the clinic.

Generally, we make a treatment plan for two quadrants and do about 20 to 30 minutes of work per child. Children can return for a second or third visit to finish their treatment. The clinic leader is there to guide and support you and answer any questions you might have.

There is no X-ray in the clinic. If an X-ray is required to complete treatment, the child can be sent to a nearby hospital. Availability of this option varies depending on location.

I am a Specialist (Perio, Endo, Oral Surgery, Ortho, Prosthodontics, Etc.) +

We welcome dentists from all specialties. Due to the field conditions and locations in which we work, all specialists are expected to perform amalgam fillings and extractions in the clinic. By signing the volunteer service application, you agree to the clinic treatment protocol and use of materials. See the “I am a licensed general dentist, what will I do?” section above for more detail.

I am a licensed dental hygienist +

Each clinic has the capacity for one to three hygienists, who provide cleanings and place sealants when possible. Hygienists are equipped with cavitrons and a range of scaling instruments.

Hygienists primarily perform preliminary exams and patient cleanings — in many cases, the first cleaning a child has ever received. Portable headlamps and cavitrons are provided, as are the supplies to provide sealants as time allows.

Hygienists work with assistants, who may be either GDR volunteers or local partners, to ensure children are comfortable and understand the importance of oral hygiene.

Along with toothbrush instruction and nutrition counseling, each child receives a fluoride varnish treatment. We are committed to treating a school every one and a half to two years to improve the oral health of each child and instill a culture of good oral hygiene for generations to come.

I am a Registered Dental Assistant +

We value and need you more than you know! Your background and expertise is invaluable in helping the clinicians be as efficient and effective as possible. See the dentist and hygienist selections above to see the types of procedures and treatments you will be assisting.

Clinic Setting
Dental clinics are set up in a school or community room and provide free dental care to children (ages 6-15 years) from surrounding schools. Global Dental Relief provides portable dental units and all instruments and supplies necessary to perform restorations and extractions.

Treatment
We treat primary teeth only in cases of abscess by doing an extraction. Otherwise, we leave teeth in as placeholders. We do not fill primary teeth, instead devoting our limited time and resources to saving permanent teeth.

Due to field conditions and long-term access to care, we use amalgam for most fillings. Exceptions are made in the case of anterior restorations, which are done on a limited basis. There are a variety of liners/bases provided for your use in the clinic.

Generally, we make a treatment plan for two quadrants and do about 20 to 30 minutes of work per child. Children can return for a second or third visit to finish their treatment. The clinic leader is there to guide and support you and answer any questions you might have.

There is no X-ray in the clinic. If an X-ray is required to complete treatment, the child can be sent to a nearby hospital. Availability of this option varies depending on location.

I am a dental or hygiene student +

GDR follows both the recommendation of the ADA® and country location requirements that all dental professionals occupying a dental or hygiene chair be fully licensed. We have welcomed many dental and hygiene students who have found the experience volunteering as a general volunteer extremely rewarding and an intense learning experience.

We will make our best effort to maximize your chairside experience but we ask that you are willing and able to perform any of the other clinic roles as needed.

In discussion with the GDR Director, it may be possible for dental/hygiene students to engage in direct care under the direct supervision of your faculty. Call 303.858.8857 for more details.

I am a pre-dental or pre-dental hygiene student +

Joining a GDR dental project is a great way to learn more about the field, learn from vastly experienced professionals and give back in a meaningful way. It is also a great experience to add to your dental school application.

Pre-dental and pre-dental hygiene students join the clinic as general volunteers and will be exposed to a variety of volunteer roles and experiences.

GDR projects over spring and summer break provide a great opportunity for your pre-dental/hygiene club to send a group! We are also able to provide a limited number of Cranberry scholarships each year to help offset the cost.

Equipment/Materials Used and Provided for Volunteers +

GDR provides all equipment and supplies to carry out preventive, restorative, and palliative treatment in the field. Below is a list of items that are provided for you:

Portable Dental Units: Portable dental units will be provided for your use. Units have high- and slow-speed handpieces, three-way syringes and venturi suction.

Instruments: Clinics are well equipped with surgical, perio and restorative instruments. Please do not bring your own instruments unless you are donating them. It is difficult for us to mix personal instruments with GDR’s supply and separate them at the end of the clinic.

Anesthetic: We provide local anesthetic (primarily Lidocaine, 2%), needles and syringes for your use.

Restoration Material: Amalgam is provided for fillings. Along with Dycal and IRM, we also stock at least one glass ionomer liner. Material needed for composite restorations for anterior teeth is available.

Scrub Tops: Scrub tops (but not bottoms) are provided for your use. Please refrain from bringing disposable scrub tops, as this adds to the problem of waste disposal in already polluted villages.

Lights: We provide headlamps for each dentist and hygienist. Bring your own if you have one and would find it more comfortable.

Safety Glasses: If you would like to work with safety glasses, please plan to bring your own (we usually have a supply on hand, but yours might be comfier).

Disposable Gloves: Disposable gloves will be provided on site for your work. If you are allergic to powder or latex gloves, please bring your own non-powder or non-latex version.

Hygiene: Hygienists work with cavitrons and assorted hand scaling instruments.

Burs: While we have a good selection of the most popular burs, some dentists have mentioned that they wish they had brought their own favorites for the clinic. If you have certain burs that you like to work with, you may want to bring a small supply to donate.

Rubber Dam: We do NOT provide rubber dams in the clinic. If you enjoy working with a rubber dam, please bring your own dam material, as well as forceps, punch, frame and clamps.

 

You are also welcome to email us or call our office at 303.858.8857 for further information.

Hear from our volunteers:

Tim Reaume, DDS

Marilyn Miller, Hygienist