VIDA Volunteer

Vida’s Dental Program can be described as an one on one interactive learning experience.

Many people in Central America do not receive regular dental care. By partnering with communities in need and globally-minded volunteers, we are able to provide basic dental care through our mission trips to those who would otherwise not receive any dental attention. 

Volunteers will be encouraged to participate as much as possible during the entire clinic process without ethically compromising the welfare of our patients. 

The volunteer’s level of prior experience (dental assistant, previous mission trip experience, pre-dental student vs. 4th year dental school student) will determine the volunteer´s ability to achieve independence in procedures. The ability to absorb and retain information is also important as we have had pre-dental students with little or no experience. When in a mixed level group, this permits the advanced dental students to share their knowledge to undergraduates. 

These teaching sessions are guided by the licensed professional, an experience we highly recommend.

The type of service-learning experience we offer allows students to become well rounded, culturally competent professionals. 
All volunteers participate in a full day Orientation scheduled for the day after arrival, which helps them become familiar with clinic procedures, & protocols. During this orientation day, you will review the manual that was sent to you prior to arrival. 
A few of the key takeaways volunteers will obtain during Vida Service Learning Trips include
  • Firsthand look into Latin American healthcare services and an opportunity to thoroughly analyze the difference from US dental healthcare systems.
  • One-on-one hands-on learning experiences with local, bilingual professionals dentists. (Volunteers are supervised and guided at all times in order to enhance their learning experience).
  • Cultural immersion through home stays, exposure to Spanish speaking communities, Latin dance classes, etc.
  • Understanding the hardships of poverty in the developing world.
  • Desire to keep caring, giving and returning to help those who need it most.

What to expect during a regular clinic day?

Our field clinics are designed to offer general dental services to support communities in need or remote villages. 

Mobile clinics are held in community centers, churches, schools, private farms, local ranches, and animal rescue centers in coordination with local community members and organizations. These settings may have latrines and exposure to dust, sun, and heat. 

Our clinics may be in humble communities, but we have set the highest level of professionalism for all our volunteers and staff. You can expect to work in a professional and respectful environment at all times. 

**Vida ensures that there are no more than 5 dental volunteers per licensed dentist** 
The first thing we do when arrive to our clinic site is organize the different dental stations. Secondly, we have to clean up and cover all of the surfaces we will utilize to ensure the best possible service to our patients. 
Volunteers will actively participate in the following tasks:
  • 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 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.

Vida offers the dental program for pre-dental and advanced dental students, as well as all others who are interested in the field of dentistry. We also invite all interested health professionals to join us. 

Although your trip may only last a week or two, your service will have an ongoing effect on the community's development. 

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. For some, this experience brings them closer to their career goals in the dental field. Others gain personal satisfaction being able to help make a change in a person's life.

What your Vida Adventure includes:

  • Airport pick up and drop off.
  • All transportation between sites.
  • Accommodations with host families and/or hotels.
  • Meals included specified in the Sample Itinerary tab.
  • Full day of in country orientation and Medical Manual.
  • 24 hour staff assistance.
  • All medicine, equipment, supplies, and professionals needed to complete successful clinics.
  • Evening group activities.
  • Some recreational activities.
  • Border and customs fees.
  • Statement of volunteer service hours. (Letters of recommendation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis).
  • Post adventure follow-up.

This price does not include:

  • Airfare. Airport exit tax (varies between countries).
  • Personal spending money.
  • Academic credit.
  • Some recreational activity opportunities.
  • Laundry.
  • Telephone or internet access.
  • Tips (Optional for bus drivers).

*B= Breakfast/ L=Lunch/ D= Dinner
Meals will be covered by Vida Volunteer when the word Vida is next to either one of the initials B, L, D. The Volunteer will take care of the other meals as shown in the itinerary. 

Your donation will bring us one step closer to our vision: Healthier communities!

We encourage all volunteers to gather monetary donations or help us with the items listed below. Please keep in mind that Vida will NOT accept any type of medication or any other item not listed.

  • Toothbrushes.
  • Toothpastes.
  • Dental floss.
  • Gauze.

Volunteers should engage community members, church members, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, local physicians, dentists and vets in assisting them with gathering these donations. This is a great way to gain support and understanding from your community as to the needs of those in Central America. Don’t underestimate the value of clothing, shoes, baby items, stickers, bubbles, toys, crayons, coloring books, etc. for the children at the clinics. If anyone would like to make a financial contribution, they can do so on on our website.

Group Donations

Vida is in great need of intake and tool chests, which we utilize in our mobile clinics for General Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine. We ask that you please bring 2 of each of these boxes as donations on your upcoming Vida adventure. You can fill them with donations, and check them as luggage with your airline. These boxes can be bought at hardware stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot for between $50 and $80 each.

Vida is an official 501c3 organization in the U.S and all contributions to Vida will be tax-deductible.