What it Means to be a Non-Dental Volunteer With GDR!

I really love the mission of Global Dental Relief, but I don’t have any experience in the dental field.

This is one of the most common responses we hear from prospective volunteers; and contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a dentist to join us in one of our clinics. In fact, Global Dental Relief clinics could not function without the dedication and commitment of our non-medical volunteers.

At Global Dental Relief, the term “non-medical volunteer” refers to volunteers without any formal dental training. This also includes pre-dental and pre-dental hygiene students who are on their way to becoming dental professionals. GDR volunteers are family members, children (14 and older), students, friends, and retirees; they are executives, lawyers, and consultants. The only requirement of a non-medical volunteer is the desire to help children in need. Our volunteer teams typically consist of 4-5 dentists, 2-3 hygienists and roughly 10 non-medical volunteers. This means that 65% of our volunteers are non-medical.

As a non-medical volunteer, you can expect to do one of the essential jobs listed here:

1. Sterilization
At each of our individual clinics we serve an average of 100 children a day, all of whom require clean instruments for examination and treatment. At our sterilization station, non medical volunteers assist our dental chairs by insuring all instruments are kept cleaned and ready for use!

2. Fluoride
In this particular role, volunteers work directly with children as they come out of the dental chairs. You will apply fluoride paste to their teeth, which combined with regular brushing will help protect from future cavities.

flouride #2


3. Record Keeping and Checkout

Volunteers help keep a careful tally of the information gathered and treatment provided, which will prove invaluable to GDR in calculating our impact and planning future clinics. In this role, you will also get to distribute stickers or other prizes to the children as a reward for their bravery. (AKA the clinic favorite!)

checkout #3


4. Tooth brushing and Dental Hygiene Instructions

This role is great for anyone who has high energy and a love for children! You will team up with a local community member to creatively and interactively teach kids about the importance of good dental hygiene and how to take care of their teeth.

OH #4


5. Clinic Flow

Our “clinic flow” volunteer is a suitable role for anyone with quick reflexes who is good at thinking on their feet. You will help keep tabs on children in the clinic as they move from station to station.

6. Chairside Assisting
The role of chairside assisting is complex and entails many different responsibilities. From preparing amalgam for the filings to charting – our chairside assistants do it all! As an assistant, you will be trained on the ground to assist our dentists and hygienists in order to serve as many kids as possible.chairside assisting


As you can see, non-medical volunteers are crucial to the success of our clinics. Their hard work allows GDR clinics to provide crucial dental care to thousands of children all over the globe. Without them, this work would not be possible.

If you are thinking of joining a trip, we have several non-medical openings on our upcoming trips. We are always in need of dedicated and compassionate volunteers. The mission and vision of GDR would not be possible without the support and commitment of our volunteers!

To find out more information or how to apply, contact us at volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org.

Current clinics with non-medical openings: (subject to change)

Guatemala June 2nd- 11th, 2017

Cambodia July 2nd – 14th, 2017

India August 21st – September 4th, 2017

India September 2nd – 16th, 2017

Kenya July 11th- 24th, 2017

Cambodia October 24th- November 5th, 2017


Welcome our new staff!

New seasons bring new changes. . .

Such is the case for Global Dental Relief (GDR). Not only are we adding two new clinics to our schedule this year, we are also adding two new employees!

With an increasing demand for dental care all around the globe, GDR has decided to expand our presence in Nepal and Guatemala. We also wanted to increase the opportunities we have for passionate volunteers – like you – to join us overseas.

Along with our two new clinics, we are excited to add two new members to our GDR family. Meet Nate and Victoria, who began working in the GDR office in January.

Meet Nate: Nate pic
Nate, our new Country Coordinator and Outreach Manager, is a Colorado Native who enjoys cooking and playing soccer in his free time. Nate received his M.A. in International Studies and Global Health Affairs from the University of Denver. He has traveled and worked extensively in Africa, Europe, South America, Asia and the Caribbean. When he’s not in the office, you can find Nate spending time with his wife and infant daughter.

Meet Victoria: victoria pic
Victoria, our new Country Coordinator and Volunteer Manager, is from rural Nebraska and loves traveling and playing volleyball. She also attended the University of Denver where she received her M.S.W. in Social Work and Childhood Trauma. Victoria spent the last year traveling all over the world with The World Race. She has worked and volunteered in South America, Eastern Europe and Africa. In her free time, you’ll find Victoria hiking or scoping out new coffee shops with friends.

Nate and Victoria will have their first GDR clinic immersion next month as they travel to Guatemala with an incredible group of volunteers. Global Dental Relief is excited to welcome these two to the team.

Remember, GDR is always looking for dedicated and passionate volunteers to work alongside us at our many clinics in Nepal, India, Cambodia, Kenya and Guatemala. No dental experience required – we work with volunteers from all different backgrounds.

If you have an enthusiasm for volunteering and serving children in need – we would love to have you join us at one of our clinics! You can find our updated itineraries here with trip dates and clinic specific details. If you’re interested in more information email us at volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org.

Utah Valley University Partners with Global Dental Relief in Guatemala

Utah Valley University Students Provide Dental Care to Children in Guatemala


A year ago Karen Preston, RDH and Assistant Professor of Hygiene at Utah Valley University, came home from her first Global Dental Relief clinic with a dream of returning to Guatemala the next year with her students. In July, Karen fulfilled that dream when she led a team of three graduated hygienists and six students to the Mayan town of San Martin where they helped provide $162,380 in free dental care to 780 children. Some in the UVU group were seasoned travelers, for others it was their first time traveling outside the United States.


The new hygienists Haley Kessler, Kandace Nance and Jessica Manship were treating an average of thirteen kids a day; their positive attitudes and hard work inspired the whole team. Lindsay Clegg, a bilingual biology student, taught hundreds of children how to brush their teeth and make good dietary choices. Her cheerful spirit eased their anxiety as they waited their turn for an exam. Tracy Bedont, Alexis Iverson, Meghan Blackham, Anne Hansen and Alyssa Thacker all second year hygiene students were excellent assistants. Their knowledge of dental terms and instruments made the clinicians’ job easier and quickened the pace of the clinic. On average we treated 130 kids a day, which is a record in Guatemala. After long gratifying days in the clinics, we enjoyed salsa dancing, exploring the market, thrilling pick-up truck rides and game nights. The students’ lives were forever touched by the sweet children in the clinic and the camaraderie fostered when people are focused on helping others.


“I will forever remember my trip to Guatemala because I learned about people and I was able to influence and teach these beautiful children how to brush their teeth. I was able to experience the cultural differences between myself and the local Guatemalans and soaked in every nuance. Before this trip, I had never heard of Global Dental Relief. They were an amazing agency, which was organized and had a plan. What I enjoyed most about GDR was their push and motivation to provide as much service as possible to the children of Guatemala.”  


Pre-dental, dental and hygiene students are instrumental to our clinics in Guatemala. Their enthusiasm for dentistry and learning creates a positive energy that propels the whole team forward. If you’re a student or educator that’s interested in volunteering with us, please contact volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org We have spots available on our March 2017 and July/August 2017 clinics in San Martin, Guatemala.

Global Dental Relief Volunteer Spotlight on Mary Miller

Global Dental Relief Volunteer Spotlight on Mary Miller

There are people you want to know. People who change lives. The ones you walk away from an interaction with and say – I want to be more like that person.  morgan-cambodia-mary-miller-dancin

Mary Miller is one of those people. At 84 years old she has more energy than most people half her age. She is quick to share love, and cautious about passing judgment on anyone and she is always up for an adventure. She understands all too well life is messy and you need to grab each day and live it to the fullest. 

That is the Mary the kids in GDR clinics get to experience. Without any background in dentistry, she called the office one day in 2011 and said, “I want to do this! I want to travel and help kids!” And the rest, as they say, is history. Mary’s been on 13 GDR mary-millertrips in five countries. And she has done every job in the clinic – from assisting a dentist to applying fluoride varnish to teaching toothbrush instruction. 

If you ask Mary why she keeps coming back, the answer is simple: “I get to devote my time and energy to helping children live healthier lives. You see mary-millerfirsthand the difference this work makes to their quality of life. And what better way to see the world? Helping kids along the way!”

Mary was diagnosed with cancer last year. At the time she was signed on to work in four GDR clinics. I remember her calling the office and saying, “well I can’t go this year, but put me down for four trips next year.”  Without any hesitation, without any doubt that she would beat the disease and come back stronger, ready to commit her heart and energy to helping children.

mary-miller-3Today Mary has a clean bill of health and is planning her next adventures helping kids and seeing the world. You’ll find her in the GDR clinics in Guatemala next March. Lucky for you, if you have the chance to meet and work with her. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget and for me, one that I look forward to every year.

UC-Merced pre-dental students provide public health dental care in Guatemala- Part II

UC-Merced pre-dental students provide public health dental care in Guatemala- Part II

For the past four years, Global Dental Relief has partnered with the Project Smile Pre-Dental Club at the University of California-Merced (UC-Merced).

To date, 15 UC-Merced pre-dental students have participated in our Guatemala clinics in non-medical roles such as assisting dentists, managing patient flow and teaching toothbrushing to kids. Together they have helped to provide free dental care to more than 3,000 children in Guatemala.UC Merced students with a group of Global Dental Relief volunteers in Guatemala

Earlier this month, Arianna Khaira and Natalia Barghouth, both recent graduates of UC-Merced, volunteered with Global Dental Relief in Guatemala for the second time in two years. Their reflections on the experience are heartwarming; below is what Natalia had to say. Be sure to check out Arianna’s report in Part I of this post!


“When I first went to Guatemala, I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first time traveling alone. When I arrived in Guatemala, all my nerves about the Michael Maher Guatemalatrip vanished. The local people are so humble. The culture and nature are immensely beautiful. The trip was one of the best experiences of my life.

“My first time in Guatemala we worked in a Mayan town called San Martin Jilotepeque. The town had little oral health care; therefore, when we arrived and UC Merced student Natalia Barghouth with a young patient on a Global Dental Relief clinic in Guatemalavolunteered our time to assist their children with free oral health care, the children were so thankful and appreciative. I had the pleasure of transforming so many smiles and boosting so many children’s self-esteem. Every child left with a smile, and for once I felt like I was personally making a difference and helping others like my father does.

“I appreciated the experience so much the first time that I had to go back. The second time in Guatemala, I went to Cuidad Vieja. The hospitality and warmth of their community made my heart blossom. It made my passion to help others grow stronger. Every child, every parent, every family was extremely appreciative. Their smiles spoke a thousand words, and their smiles portrayed thankfulness.

“I’m so thankful for every opportunity and every dentist that I have had the pleasure of working with, with Global Dental Relief. To share a common passion with others and to unite together to help those in need, it is one of the most rewarding experiences. By the end of the trip, you are already thinking about when you will go on your next trip.

UC Merced student Natalia Barghouth with a young patient on a Global Dental Relief clinic in Guatemala“Global Dental Relief has not only allowed me to work with and assist dentists from around the world, but it has also allowed me to learn and see different techniques that any aspiring dental student would want. Not only is this experience rewarding and humbling, but you meet amazing individuals with the same passion as you, and they are determined to help you grow and learn as well.”

Natalia Barghouth

UC-Merced pre-dental students provide public health dental care in Guatemala- Part I

UC-Merced pre-dental students provide public health dental care in Guatemala- Part I

For the past four years, Global Dental Relief has partnered with the Project Smile Pre-Dental Club at the University of California-Merced (UC-Merced).

To date, 15 UC-Merced pre-dental students have participated in our Guatemala clinics in non-medical roles such as assisting dentists, managing patient flow and teaching toothbrushing to kids. Together they have helped to provide free dental care to more than 3,000 children in Guatemala.UC Merced students with a group of Global Dental Relief volunteers in Guatemala

Earlier this month, Arianna Khaira and Natalia Barghouth, both recent graduates of UC-Merced, volunteered with Global Dental Relief in Guatemala for the second time in two years. Their reflections on the experience are heartwarming; below is what Arianna had to say. Stay tuned for Arianna’s report which will be published in the coming days!


“Volunteering with Global Dental Relief (GDR) in Guatemala reminded me exactly why I am choosing dentistry as a career. My passion for giving back and my love for art are merged into one career. The smiles on these children’s faces speak a thousand Arianna smilewords. Being part of such an impactful opportunity has inspired me to start volunteer efforts at my own university. Volunteer work is truly a remarkable and life-changing act and I hope to continue in my path in serving my time to help those in need. GDR has strengthened my passion for dentistry and allows me to reflect on all that is important.

“Having grown up in Indonesia, I was exposed to the realities of what opportunities were afforded to the privileged and denied to the others. My family decided to emigrate to the United States in hopes to provide my sister and I with better access to quality education and healthcare. It has now become my passion to help serve those around me both in the United States and abroad.

“As a child growing up in these circumstances, I was helpless, but as a student with a voice and chance to actually change things for others, I am empowered UC Merced student Arianna Khaira  with a young patient on a Global Dental Relief clinic in Guatemalaand endlessly determined. I loved being able to comfort children as a volunteer, even by just smiling and holding their hand or explaining to them what was happening so they did not feel alone. Additionally, I was able to translate my artistic background into holding the delicate dental tools and helping the numerous dentists I have assisted.

UC Merced student Arianna Khaira  with a group of young patients on a Global Dental Relief clinic in Guatemala“I cannot thank GDR enough for giving me the opportunity to serve others, even at this early stage, and assimilating all the seemingly disparate aspects of my life – education, art and background into a purpose. You’ve reminded me of why I am choosing to pursue dentistry as a career: to foster a world of smiles, laughter, friends, and opportunities.”

Arianna Khaira

Top three myths about traveling in India, BUSTED!

Top three myths about traveling in India, BUSTED!

If I were to say to you, “Let’s go to India!”, would you have any concerns?

If so, I bet it’s one of the following three myths many people believe about traveling in India:

1) It’s too hot!

2) It’s too crowded–and I hear the traffic is horrendous!

3) I don’t want to get sick with “Delhi belly” or something worse!

Let me tell you about the India I know and love.

1) Simone and fmaily 8Yes, much of India is warm most of the time, but Global Dental Relief trips only spend a short amount of time in the heat. The majority of our time is spent in Ladakh, on the western edge of the breathtakingly beautiful Himalayas. At 11,500 feet and at the same latitude as Nepal, it’s about as far north and as high up as you can be in India! The cool climate, clear air and spectacular views make this an awe-inspiring place to visit.

Delhi's Red Fort2) New Delhi, where you’ll meet the rest of your Global Dental Relief team before continuing on to Ladakh, is a bustling metropolis with lots of people and lots of traffic! It’s also the ancient Mughal capital of India and is brimming with rich history and culture. Over the years we’ve gotten sightseeing in this world-class city down to a science, so you can get maximum enjoyment out of your day in Delhi with minimum downtime spent in traffic. At the end of the day, you’ll return to a beautiful and relaxing hotel near their airport–then it’s on to Ladakh and the stunning Himalayas!

Tibetan cuisine3) Traveling across the globe takes its toll on our bodies and weakens our immune systems. However, taking simple precautions will go a long way in keeping you healthy. Always remembering to drink and brush with filtered water and washing your hands every time you eat will keep most common travelers’ illnesses at bay. Don’t forget to bring a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and get plenty of rest each night to keep your immune system strong! Finally, the Tibetan cuisine you’ll be treated to during your stay in Ladakh is chock-full of yummy remedies for sniffles and sore tummies.

Traveling in India with Global Dental Relief is an experience you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. Ladakh is a magical place where the climate is mild, the people are warm, the pace is peaceful and the landscape is grand and humbling.

We still have a few spots available on our trips to India this fall–sign up today and let me be your guide in Shangri-La! Click here or email volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org for more info.


Becky Bay on a Global Dental Relief clinicAuthor Becky Bay, RDH co-leads Global Dental Relief’s field dental clinics in Ladakh, India.

Top 5 Reasons to Volunteer With Your Family This Year

Top 5 Reasons to Volunteer With Your Family This Year

Volunteering as a family is not only a profound bonding experience, but it can have a lasting impression on your children for years to come.

Here are the top 5 reasons to volunteer on a Global Dental Relief field dental clinic abroad with your family this year.


1.) Expose your children to a new cultureTim Reaume 1411 Cambodia 06

Volunteering in another country is like a living, immersive social studies class.

Far beyond the usual travel experience involving tour guides, buses and busy tourist sites, volunteering whisks you into another dimension, completely.  You find yourself among other families, not unlike your own – working out of a local school or municipal building, far from any tourist activities or distractions. Here is where life happens.


2.) Opportunity to try new things

Families are used to a daily routine. We come and go,  often not taking or having the time to connect with family members. Volunteering offers families a chance to break free from the daily grind and try something new together. Where else can a teenager learn how to assist a dentist or apply fluoride varnish to hundreds of kids?  You can bet the dinner conversation after a day of working in a clinic with your teenager is very different than it is at home.


3.) Volunteering with family is a great bonding experienceBart Roach 1411 Cambodia 09

Imagine working side by side with your spouse, your mom or children to improve the lives of those in need.  Working together in new and uncharted  situations is a great way to connect with family.  There are no distractions; you’re on neutral ground and you have a common goal – to improve the lives of children.

It is hard to describe in words the bond created when two people set their own needs aside in service of another person in need.  The memories created from this experience will be cherished for years to come.


4.) The whole family can participate

Simone Family3Because of the wide variety of volunteer jobs in the clinic, there is a perfect job for everyone in the family. Anyone can participate – from kids as young as 14 to grand- parents.  Project leaders train volunteers on site, so you don’t need to know anything before you go; simply show up with a good attitude and a willingness to work hard.  From sterilizing instruments, to managing patient flow, to keeping master records – every job is an important cog in the clinic wheel, without which the clinic wouldn’t be able to run.


5.) LoveMarilyn & Jen with kids (1)

Love, love, love – yes it sounds mushy but where else do you get to spend the whole day with your loved ones – day in, day out, for weeks at a time? Volunteering with your family is just that. You get to be with your loved ones, you get to sleep in the same room with them, see them experience all the joys of volunteering that you are experiencing and the best part – you get to share the wonderful feeling of love that comes from contributing to improve the lives of children in need.

So what are you waiting for? GDR welcomes families to volunteer in clinics. Our schedule offers clinics over spring breaks, Thanksgiving break and in the summer months, to accommodate school schedules.  Visit our website at: www.globaldentalrelief.org for more information on our trips and for the 2016-2017 trip schedule.


Author Kim Troggio is the Co-Founder and Director of Global Dental Relief. When not traveling the world for work, her family joins her on adventures – last summer she moved her family to Guatemala for six weeks. Her two boys, 4 and 7 lived in Antigua and volunteered for a day in a GDR dental clinic.  It was a life-changing experience for the whole family. 

6 ways anybody can volunteer on a mobile dental clinic abroad!

6 ways anybody can volunteer on a mobile dental clinic abroad!

No Experience Required: three words we have all longed for at some point in our lives. Here’s how you can volunteer with kids on a mobile dental clinic abroad!

Are you looking for the chance to do something that really matters? Do you dream of adventure? Would you like to experience something that can truly Volunteer with Global Dental Relief as a non-dental volunteer!change your life?

Global Dental Relief provides children all over the world with comprehensive dental care. Rewarding opportunities on our mobile dental clinics are offered all around the globe with no previous dental experience required.

Have a background in management or quality control? You would be an asset to our team in records management or sterilization.

How about education or administration? You would be great at toothbrush instruction or keeping the clinic flowing.

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief as a non-dental volunteer!Over the past 15 years, over 500 non-dental volunteers have been an integral part of our ability to provide dental care to over 100,000 children across the globe.

There are several ways you can volunteer on our mobile dental clinics abroad without having any knowledge of dentistry whatsoever:Volunteer with Global Dental Relief as a non-dental volunteer!

  • Oral hygiene educators work with props and translators to teach kids how to avoid plaque and keep their teeth clean. Lots of fun for volunteers who love kids!
  • Record keepers ensure that every child got the care they need, and check the children out of the clinic with the gift of a sticker–sure to bring a bright smile to every child’s face!
  • Volunteers applying fluoride provide a crucial last step to the dental visit, helping ward off cavities until the child’s next visit.
  • Volunteer with Global Dental Relief as a non-dental volunteer!Assistants are trained in the field and serve chairside. In addition to helping a dentist or hygienist do their work, assistants keep kids happy and comfortable during their visit.
  • Sterilization is a busy post for an energetic and well-organized volunteer. You’re making sure that all used instruments are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized before redistribution.
  • Clinic flow is a great job if you love speed and efficiency! You’re in charge of making sure the 100 or so kids who move through the clinic every day get to exactly where they need to be.

Join one of Global Dental Relief 18 annual field dental clinics in Cambodia, Kenya, Guatemala, India or Nepal today! Reach out to (303) 858-8857 or volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org to learn more about opportunities to discover a new culture while giving care to kids in need.

Top 5 reasons to volunteer in Ladakh, India

Top 5 reasons to volunteer in Ladakh, India


Never heard of Ladakh, India? Here are the top 5 reasons why this “Shangri-La” should be at the top of your travel list:

1. Magical Mountains

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!Nestled in the between the Himalayan and the Kuen Lun mountain ranges, Ladakh is known as the “land of high passes”. Neighbored by the Tibetan Plateau and confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers, the magnitude of the region is nothing less than awe inspiring.

2. Captivating Culture

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!With ancestry rooted back to the 1st century, the people of Ladakh live, honor and celebrate their heritage. Ruins of monuments built in the 11th century remain as a present day reminder of an active ancient history.

3. Amazing Adventures

Many adventures can be found in the surrounding areas of Ladakh if you are an adventure seeker with an affinity for untouched landscapes. Trek through the valley as the nomadic yak-herding families do. Take a drive over the Khardung-La Pass, one of the highest roads in the world, or raft the glacial waters of the Zanskar River.

4. Timeless Traditions

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!Many festivals are celebrated in Ladakh throughout the year honoring customs and traditions of the region. Weaving is an important part of traditional life in Ladakh. Typical Ladakhi costumes of formal dress are elaborately embroidered waistcoats, boots and hats. Yak wool is often used to provide warmth in the winter months.

5. Charming Children

Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!If the landscape, culture, and adventures surrounding Ladakh don’t captivate you, the children certainly will. When you volunteer on a field dental clinic with Global Dental Relief, the children’s smiles will warm your heart and their traditional greeting of “Julley” will make you feel most welcome every time you hear it.

James Hilton describes a fictional, mystical, harmonious valley gently guided by lamasery in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon as “Shangri-La”; the term has become synonymous with any earthly paradise, particularly a Himalayan utopia- a happy land, isolated from the outside world.  Having been to the Ladakh Valley several times, I now have a real-life glimpse of his vision. Join Global Dental Relief and find your Shangri-La in Ladakh, India.



Author Becky Crump, RDH, in addition to working at Global Dental Relief’s Headquarters, leads volunteer dental clinics in Ladakh and other international destinations. To learn more about volunteering with Global Dental Relief, contact us at volunteer@globaldentalrelief.org or (303) 858-8857Volunteer with Global Dental Relief in Ladakh, India!