Are you looking for a way to make the most out of your medical training and experience? Maybe you’re a trained dentist or you’re working on your degree. Maybe you’re a trained nurse or doctor or you’re still working through your residency and internships. Having medical training, in any discipline, can be an extremely beneficial skill when it comes to volunteering in different countries and looking for ways to help around the world.
Are you looking for a way to make the most out of your dental/medical training and experience? Maybe you’re a trained dentist or you’re working on your degree. Maybe you’re a trained nurse or doctor or you’re still working through your residency and internships. Having Dental/medical training, in any discipline, can be an extremely beneficial skill when it comes to volunteering in different countries and looking for ways to help around the world. In just about any country, these programs can make a huge difference and trained professionals can do the most.
In general, medical professionals in all areas are needed throughout underprivileged countries that range from Tanzania and Kathmandu to Honduras and Costa Rica. But there are some extremely important aspects that dentists can do in particular. Let’s take a look at some of the different things that people in these countries may need from a dentist or a dental student. Dental care is often overlooked in these countries or the people there simply don’t understand what the purpose of it could be.
Preventive dental care
Dental health education
Common pediatric oral care procedures
Dental health screenings
Root canals and scaling
Support for dental hygienists
Maintenance of dental equipment
Running a mobile dental clinic
Specialized oral health practices
These different procedures and processes start with minor dental care but they can graduate to anything and everything, including performing orthodontics and maxillofacial procedures in what amounts to a vehicle equipped with basic dental supplies. Yet, these are procedures that these individuals would never be able to get in any other way either because they are not available or because they couldn’t possibly afford them.
The Importance of Dental Care
Unfortunately, dental care plays a very big role in overall health and when an individual is not taking care of their teeth it can cause them to suffer in a number of other ways and to become sick in many different ways. Because of a lack of dental care in many of these underdeveloped countries, there are even more rampant sicknesses than even the bad water and poor access to regular medicine and quality food would normally cause. By working with these individuals, there is a great deal that can be done to help improve their wellbeing.
What Can Be Done
Dental/Medical Volunteers that do not have dental or medical training can still assist those who do within these types of volunteer work. Rather than simply handing tools to the professionals, these individuals can provide further education on the importance of good oral hygiene. They can provide basic oral care products to individuals within the community and talk to them about what they should be doing to take care of their teeth and mouth. They can also provide even more education about what can happen without proper dental care.
Those who have the training and further education can provide many or all of the other techniques and treatments that have already been discussed above. Each of these can greatly improve overall health as well as simply making individuals within these communities feel better about themselves. After all, looking good can give you a great boost of confidence no matter where you live in the world and these individuals have already suffered a great deal because of the lack of access to basic necessities for healthcare. Improving their oral health and their smile can make a big difference for anyone.
Where Help Is Needed
When we talk about volunteering with these programs there are actually several different parts of the world that you could be working. In each of these different areas, it’s possible to make a big difference and to participate in different ways and to different extents within the abilities and necessities of the youth and adults there. So, just where will you want to go? Where can you do the most good? Well, it’s actually going to depend more on where you would prefer to go than where you are actually needed because help is needed in several different countries around the world.
Dental Tanzania Arusha is one of the locations where help is definitely needed through a health center in the Kibaha District Council. It’s located in the capital region and it actually provides a range of different medical services for patients. This center is actually providing medical, nursing and dental care and the offerings range from HIV and AIDS treatment to skin conditions, tooth abscesses and childbirth complications. Any medical professional that can visit this region is most definitely welcome and the care that is provided within the facility is some of the best that could possibly be available within the region thanks to those volunteers.
Mission in Zambia is another place where volunteers are always welcome. This medical care facility is located in Livingstone and while the facility is greatly in need of help, they are incapable of providing the basic necessities for the volunteers. This means that volunteers must supply all of their own gear while the health clinic focuses on providing as many of the medical products and equipment as possible. Overall, this clinic is more focused on nursing and doctoral care, however dental care is definitely something that is needed within the community.
Next on the list of potential locations in India, specifically Jaipur. Dental students and dentists in this region are definitely needed as well, as are other medical professionals. The main reason for this is that most of the people within the country will actually die from treatable diseases. So many facilities, however, are incapable of treating them or don’t have the right standards of hygiene and so the patients themselves are simply incapable of getting the help that they need. Volunteers help with anything and everything related to healthcare and are required to provide their own protective gear as well as some of the more basic supplies (such as a stethoscope).
Kathmandu in Nepal actually has a dental hospital where patients are treated for any range of different dental complaints and oral health needs. This hospital looks primarily at destitute and poor people within the community, the ones who are incapable of getting the help that they need in any other way. Volunteers may help with anything from scaling and fillings to crowns, dentures, periodontal, surgical extractions and more. There are even visits to different locations like orphanages, schools, and monasteries where the volunteers themselves will be able to provide further education about oral health and different ways that individuals can care for their own hygiene.
Honduras also has a dental and predental program where anyone can volunteer and help to provide additional attention and care to those who otherwise would never receive it. The program itself can include setting up examination areas and organizing the materials that are needed for procedures as well as assisting with different treatments as necessary. Students are also always welcome to work with the dentist already volunteering within the community. These individuals can also help with educating patients and teaching those within the community about how important it is to care for their oral health.
Ecuador also has a public hospital that provides dental care to those who are most in need. This program and hospital has specific rooms where dentists are available to provide basic and even more advanced dental care to those who could otherwise never afford it. This is because the services are provided to the lowest of income levels and there are times when the hospital may see upwards of 100 patients per day. This is because of the immense number of people who simply need care and are incapable of getting it anywhere else or don’t even understand what all they really need.
Finally, Costa Rica has a predental program where those who are able can volunteer and provide for the basic care and needs of patients. Those with even minimal training are even needed to aid with keeping the clinic ready at all times for additional patients. They can also be helpful in scheduling appointments, working with the doctor, shadowing the doctor to gain additional insight and training and working with patients and the general community to teach them more about dental hygiene, oral hygiene, and their own basic needs in order to stay healthy.
What it Takes
There are a number of different programs throughout the world because there are so many regions where proper healthcare is not a right. Where it’s not even a possibility for many for a multitude of reasons. In fact, there are regions of the world where healthcare is not even understood and those who live in abject poverty simply don’t understand what healthcare even means or know a time when a sick person is able to overcome whatever it is that they are brought down with. With the help of volunteers, however, it is absolutely possible that people within these communities can learn more.
While dental care may not seem like the first thing that these individuals need, it’s definitely one of the most important forms of care that they can possibly get. By teaching them about oral care you are starting them on a journey that will change the rest of their lives forever. This journey will teach them how to better care for themselves and how to cut down on their chances of getting sick because they are able to cut down on the bacteria that grow within their mouths. Additional care is necessary, but this is most definitely an excellent place to start.
What You Can Do
If you’re interested in volunteering in one of these clinics you can absolutely do so and you can absolutely make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds and even thousands of people within the communities that are being served. These individuals will never even know what they could have unless you and others like you step foot into their community and take care of them. And the lucky thing is that there are plenty of people who are willing to do just that. So, if you’re interested in helping out with a dental program, make sure that you’re checking out the options.
Complete list of Healthcare Programs:
Medical Mission Trips
Nurse Mission Trips
EMT Rescue Programs
Dentists Without Borders
Pre Medical Students
Pre Nurse Students
Pre Dental Students
Doctors Without Borders
Midwifery / Maternity
Therapy / Rehabilitation
Children Special Needs
These types of programs generally include workdays of 4 to 8 hours per day and will involve a great deal of standing and working in sometimes mobile units. On top of this, there is very little downtime as patients are more plentiful than the time available. Individuals who do want to help are greatly needed and they will definitely be given plenty of meaningful work to do that is going to change the lives of people throughout the world. There’s really nothing better.
Of course, you will have time off throughout the experience as well and that’s a great way for you to enjoy yourself and to explore what these amazing parts of the world really have to offer. The whole experience can be a cultural immersion opportunity and there are chances for local classes and ways to learn more about the culture as well. Not to mention you’ll have access to tourist areas in regions that have them and cultural centers throughout. There’s really no end to the amazing experiences that you can have when you volunteer with this or any other program abroad.
If you’ve never volunteered with this type of program before or you’ve never been abroad this is definitely a great time to do it. You can absolutely have a great experience and you can make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of people within a community that would never have been able to get the help that they need without you. So, what are you going to do this year? Are you going to spend another summer at the beach? Or even working at a local shop? Or are you going to make a difference in the world and get some amazing experience at the same time?