WHY GO ON A DENTAL ELECTIVE ABROAD?

A dental elective abroad is your chance to go on a clinical placement in a low-resource hospital in a developing country.

You choose the destination you want to go to and the areas you want to get experience in, whether they be maxillofacial surgery, general oral hygiene or otherwise.

The aim of a placement like this is for you to see a healthcare system that differs from your own. While abroad, you’ll get experience with practices and conditions you’re unlikely to have encountered.

You’ll see cases of decay advanced well beyond what you’ve seen before. You’ll learn how sociocultural issues impact patients. You’ll also see how local specialists adapt to challenges stemming from equipment shortages.

THE CLINICAL EXPERIENCE

Clinical experience of this kind is about gaining perspective and challenging what you know. You’ll quickly realise that things we take for granted in the UK, like cosmetic dentistry, are often totally unachievable in most of our destinations.

Some things you might observe include:

  • Lack of resources and use of outdated equipment
  • Poor oral hygiene (many children have severe decay)
  • Lack of sterilisation procedures
  • Extremely late presentations and advanced conditions

You will also see major differences in the fundamentals of dentistry too. For example, in many of our destinations, there is almost no preventative dentistry. Saving the tooth is a secondary concern as procedures are simply too expensive for most patients.

Your hospital placement runs Monday to Friday, leaving your evenings and weekends free to explore the destination you’ve chosen.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

Our support begins the moment you get in touch and doesn’t end until after you’ve returned from your trip.

The service covers all bases and is designed to remove all stress from planning a dental elective abroad.

With us, you’ll get:

A tailored elective in your choice of departments | Comprehensive pre-trip preparation | 24/7 in-country support team | Private, catered accommodation | Airport pickup

Arrivals are every Sunday, 52 weeks of the year. This means you can travel whenever suits you, and durations start from two weeks.

For a more detailed step-by-step guide to how our service works, click here.

TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES

The focus of your trip should be your clinical placement. But, of course you have plenty of time out of hospital to experience whichever country you’ve travelled to.

Whether you prefer to travel solo or with a group, weekend trips are a particular highlight. From rafting down the Zambezi to trekking through the Himalayan mountains, you have plenty of opportunity for adventure and cultural immersion.

WHERE DO I START?

Step one is to talk to us. Our team of experts are here to help you with dental elective ideas, answer any of your questions, and secure your place when the time comes.

Get in touch using the short form at the bottom of the page, or click the green enquire now button.

dental elective

DESTINATIONS

Mexico - Merida
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On your dentistry elective in Merida, you’ll see right away that people have limited access to both information and preventative treatments. In fact, as much as 60 percent of people in Mexico show signs of periodontal disease. You might also get experience with X-ray machines and ultrasound cleaners. Fillings and restorations are common here, but a lot of patients present late. This means cases are more severe than you’re used to back at home.

Zambia - Lusaka
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Our partner hospital is the only one in the city where patients have access to free or low cost care. On your dental placement here you’ll see that the hospital carries out standard procedures like restorations and fillings. But, because public education around oral hygiene is lacking, patients often present late. This means you’re more likely to see cases more severe than you normally see back at home. In this particular hospital, you can observe maxillofacial surgery too.

Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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Many Tanzanians suffer from oral health issues. It’s thought that this is mainly thanks to a lack of oral health education and contamination in the water supply. That means you’ll see a range of advanced cases on your dental elective placement here. In terms of the clinical experience, you’ll see procedures like fillings, minor abscess operations, root canals and prosthodontics. In our other partner hospital — a major tertiary referral hospital — you can spend time in oral surgery, pathology and medicine wards under expert supervision. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.

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Nepal - Pokhara
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Choose to undertake your dental elective placement in Pokhara and you’ll learn how local specialists tackle things like gum disease, maxillofacial trauma, cleft lip and cleft palate repair. And all while having to contend with severe resource limitations. Something that will jump out at you from the get go is the standard of hygiene and infection control. For example, the sterilisation processes that local specialists use might not seem as thorough as you’re used to at home. You might also get the chance to spend time in dental radiology, examining and diagnosing a range of oral problems. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.

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Nepal - Kathmandu
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Undertaking your dentistry placement in Nepal means encountering everything from routine check-ups to abscess surgeries. If you take a really proactive approach towards your time here, opportunities in other areas can open up. Maxillofacial, and prosthodontics for example. The healthcare system in Nepal is low resource. That means local specialists can’t always afford to follow the same rigorous hygiene procedures used in the UK. You might see staff reusing burs with multiple patients for example. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Sri Lanka - Kandy
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On a dental elective abroad, you’ll spend time in the dentistry department with patients suffering from a range of conditions. In our partner hospital in Kandy, the department is split into three main areas; OPD, maxillofacial and orthodontics. You might even see cases of oral cancer. This will give you insight into how treatments for serious ailments are provided when resources are seriously low. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy. 

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Ghana - Takoradi
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On your dentistry elective in Takoradi, you’re see oral conditions that are far more advanced than you’re used to back at home. You can spend some time in paediatric dentistry, opening your eyes to the severity of conditions like pulpitis, gingivitis, and periodontitis among young people. You can spend time in the lab too. You can compare practises in the UK to local practises in Ghana. You’ll see how local specialists go about creating dentures, using orthodontic appliances and wax carving. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.

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Peru - Arequipa
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On your dentistry elective in Arequipa, you’ll be in one of our three partner dental clinics in the city. Unlike some of our other destinations, preventative dental care is increasingly common in Peru. Saving the tooth is the priority, but isn’t always possible. Some clinics are equipped with X-ray machines and ultrasound cleaners, but most equipment is outdated compared to what you’re used to. You’re going to encounter severe decay, cavities and other advanced oral diseases in patients thanks to diet and a lack of education around oral hygiene. Treatment-wise, you’ll see things like fluoridation, prophylaxis, and endodontic and healing treatments. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa.

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"I feel that prevention is key and one of the most important things I could leave behind was knowledge."

Yewande Oduwole, University of Plymouth 2019

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"Ghana does have many of the same treatments available as we do at home, but many people cannot afford it."

Tess Everatt, University of Sheffield 2018

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"The resilience of the patients—and the people of Tanzania in general—astounded me."

Tessa Jensen, University of Adelaide 2018

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Swan's Review of his Dental Internship in Nepal

"The experience taught me how to work around limited resources and making the most out of them".

Sawan Tailor, University of Leeds 2014

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Mengzhu's Review of her Dental Internship in Dar es Salaam

I was exposed to more oral surgery at this clinic in ten days than in my entire fourth year at dental school

Mengzhu Wang, Griffith University 2014

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What is a dental elective?

A dental elective is a clinical placement that dental students undertake as part of their degree. Every year, more and more midwifery students are doing their dental electives overseas. To create your own customised dental elective, get in touch with us today.

How long is a dentistry elective?

A dental elective is as long as you want it to be. Our minimum placement duration is 2 weeks, but students typically travel on their dentistry electives for 4 weeks. There is no upper limit to how long you can travel for.

What are the most popular countries for dentistry electives?

Our most popular countries for dentistry electives are (in no particular order):

1. Tanzania

2. Zambia

5. Peru

6. Mexico

7. Ghana

9. Nepal

10. Sri Lanka.

What are the benefits of a dental elective?

The benefits of a dental elective include:

  • Expanding your clinical knowledge and skill set
  • Becoming more confident, independent and resourceful
  • Making yourself more attractive to employers
  • Doing some proper travelling
  • Building your personal and professional network
  • Sharpening your language and communication skills
  • Renewing your perspective on the NHS

What kinds of cases will I see on an overseas dentistry elective?

You will see cases like:

  • Severe pulpitis, gingivitis, and periodontitis among young people
  • Various oral cancers
  • Oral abscesses
  • Maxillofacial trauma
  • Cleft palate/cleft lip