Many people in Central America do not receive regular dental care. By partnering with communities, local health systems and globally-minded volunteers, we are able to reduce inequalities by providing basic dental care to those who would otherwise not receive any dental attention.
Who can participate?
Pre-dental & dental students, as well as all others who are interested in the field of dentistry and are looking to become well rounded, culturally competent professionals.
Why you should join?
It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and join like-minded individuals to make a difference! Through education and example, you have the power to change people’s overall quality of life. Basic knowledge of oral hygiene that you take for granted can prevent future diseases and significantly reduce a person’s pain and suffering.
Students joining our dental teams will not only help bring services to underserved communities, but they will also participate in a high-quality, ethical learning experience. Although your trip may only last a week or two, your service will have an ongoing effect on the community’s development.
Vida ensures that there are no more than 5 dental volunteers per licensed dentist. You will work in a supervised and respectful environment at all times. Our organization also follows the ADEA recommended guidelines for international volunteer work.
Some of your tasks (depending on your level of experience) include:
- Separating instruments and materials according to each station.
- Prophylaxis and fluoride treatments.
- Preventive Dentistry that involves teaching and educating patients on proper cleaning and flossing techniques.
Pain management procedures, oral cancer screenings, fillings, sealants and extractions are normally performed by the local licensed dentists in charge of the clinic and during these procedures, volunteers receive a one on one learning experience where the dentist will discuss the procedure and answer questions as they go.
What will you do as a Dental Volunteer?
- Separate instruments and materials. Assist with prophylaxis and fluoride treatments.
- Educate the community on preventive dentistry, cleaning and flossing techniques.
- Support/Observe lead dentist during pain management procedures, oral cancer screenings, fillings, sealants and extractions.
- Learn about the challenges faced by Central American Health Departments.
- Compare and contrast healthcare systems.
- Analyze concepts, evaluate experiences, and form opinions.
- Develop critical thinking skills.
- Foster cultural awareness.
Components for a successful trip
Clinics are held in community centers, churches or schools. We offer general consults and medications to support rural communities with little to no access to healthcare. Our goal is to improve their health conditions not only with medications but through education that will help prevent disease, increase health literacy and reduce detrimental behaviors.
Family Visits* enable us to reach the most vulnerable people in our communities. Along with a team of doctors, health promoters, nurses and interpreters, we analyze the current living conditions and habits that affect the well-being of our patients. The information gathered will be transferred to local health authorities and we will have a chance to educate our patients and give recommendations to the families.
*Family Visits depend on itinerary and group size
A home away from home!
Homestays* promise a whole-hearted and culturally immersive experience. You’ll get a chance to learn about local family values and enjoy delicious, authentic, home-cooked meals while forming life-long bonds with our world-famous host families.
*Homestays depend on itinerary and group size
Clinic set up
1. Waiting Area
This is where patients await to be seen. Their names are added to the list of patients we will see each day. Lists are usually handled on a first-come, first-serve basis; however, prioritize seniors, pregnant women and patients with conditions that might require immediate assistance.
Cleaning Area: Students will assist with clinic set up, cleaning of tables, chairs, instruments etc.
Pre-Clinical Preparation: Students will learn about biosecurity and how to avoid cross-contamination following the correct protocol. Students will wash and sterilize instruments as well.
Students will assist the dentist in charge while filling out the patient intake form and during cleanings and fluoride applications. After each clinic, students will fill out statistics and file cards.
Vida ensures that there are no more than 5 dental volunteers per licensed dentist. Pain management procedures, oral cancer screenings, fillings, sealants and extractions are performed by the local licensed dentists in charge of the clinic. During these procedures volunteers will receive a one on one learning experience where the dentist will discuss the procedure and answer questions as they go.
4. Preventive Education
Students will teach patients about dental hygiene, brushing and flossing techniques, and general recommendations.
Students come here to fill the prescriptions given by the doctor. Once the medication is ready, volunteers will explain the following information:
- Types of medications
- Dosage amounts
- Instructions for medication usage
- Airport pick up and drop off.
- All ground transportation between sites.
- Accommodations with host families and/or hotels.
- Most of meals (included specified in the Sample Itinerary tab).
- In-country orientation.
- Program Manual.
- 24 hour staff assistance.
- All medicine, equipment, supplies, and professionals needed to successfully perform on clinic days.
- Evening group activities.
- All recreation activities listed in trip itinerary.
- Border and customs fees.
- Statement of service hours and Certificate of Participation. (Letters of recommendation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Feel free to contact us! Fill out this form and one of our Student Engagement Representatives will get back to you as soon as possible.
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