Medical missionaries share a passion for meeting the needs of those who are suffering around the world. But that suffering takes many forms. For some, it could be illness or disease. For others, though, the skills and compassion of a dentist is required.
That’s what makes dental mission trips so vital. Dentists and their co-workers carry on ministries that other medical professionals can’t provide. They fill an important niche that can be used as a springboard to share the greatest message of all, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you’re a medical professional in the dental field, be assured that God has a place for you in fulfilling the Great Commission. Dental mission trips are expanding in number and scope. Like their counterparts in general practice and optometry, dental professionals are finding new opportunities to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory.
In the list below, we’ve highlighted five sending agencies that provide mission trips for dentists. These organizations have reliable track records of service and are considered partner agencies with the Global Health Missions Conference. If you’re wondering what’s available for you, these groups can be a great starting point for your research.
"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Based in South Carolina, the Carolina Honduras Health Foundation has been providing short-term dental mission trips for more than a quarter of a century. They strive to bring quality care to the poorest regions of Honduras, working through a local clinic and other sites in the country. In addition to hands-on care, Carolina Honduras also supports education for local dental professionals to improve the quality of care on a larger scale.
Christian Medical and Dental Associates (CMDA) is a respected sending organization that provides opportunities for both short-term and long-term experiences. The group’s commitment is to use the skills of its medical and dental professionals to earn a hearing for the gospel, treating physical needs as a way to address spiritual needs. Some short-term teams provide educational ministry, while others focus on supporting CMDA missionaries in clinics.
While many dental mission trips minister outside the borders of the United States, SmileFaith is committed to domestic missions. Founded in Florida, the group is heavily invested in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky. Over time, SmileFaith has established clinics throughout that area and provides a rolling “mobile clinic” that serves various communities. SmileFaith’s mission statement includes providing “hope with every smile,” emphasizing the gospel as the greatest need people have.
While every mission trip for dental professionals involves “giving back” to some degree, Good Samaritan takes that concept literally. Founded by Vietnamese refugees, this California-based ministry provides basic dental care and oral surgeries in underserved regions of Vietnam. Throughout the year, dental mission trip teams travel into areas where traditional missionaries might not be allowed, as God uses them to make a difference in that nation.
The founders of Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International served as missionaries to Honduras. During their time in that country, the physical pain and suffering they encountered convinced them that doctors and dentists could serve the dual purpose of meeting physical needs and spreading the gospel. Since 1974, Baptist Medical and Dental has sponsored dental mission trips to minister to individuals in places like Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Nepal.
Of course, these five organizations are just the tip of the iceberg. New organizations continue to see the potential of mission trips for dentists and dental professionals. So, if God is calling you to use your skills and gifts for His glory on a dental mission trip, the opportunities are there. With a little research, you can make a short-term or long-term difference on the mission field sooner than you realize.
God has given you a heart for healthcare. He’s also given you a heart for missions. Those two passions don’t have to be an “either/or.” They can combine to be a beautiful “both/and” through medical mission trips.
Medical Missions serves to connect your professional skills and biblical calling to the largest database of healthcare mission organizations, professionals, and thought leadership. Join us at the Global Missions Health Conference to find your Medical Missions calling. Or, browse our full list of partner organizations to find the right mission for you.