Boost your career on a dental elective abroad

Go on a once-in-a-lifetime dental elective abroad with Work the World and you’ll get career-boosting clinical experience in an overseas hospital. Then in your free time, you’ll have life-changing travel experiences with new friends.

You are in total control — you tell us what you want to experience and we'll tailor your overseas placement to your specific interests. You choose everything from the destination right down to the kinds of hospital or clinic you want to get experience in.

You’ll find the experience to be eye-opening. And that’s true whether you’re a undertaking an elective for dentistry students or graduates, or for dental nursing students.


Why go on a dental elective abroad?

  • Unique experience that puts you ahead of your peers
  • Stand out to employers
  • Strengthen your academic profile
  • Build a network to tap into during your career
  • Gain perspective that reframes your view of the NHS
  • Build confidence by stepping out of your comfort zone
  • Get inspiration around where you might specialise

"I was lucky to help with an outreach programme that did dental screenings in schools." - Tess, University of Sheffield
Read more dentistry reviews here

Book with confidence

It’s official - overseas placements have been given the go-ahead and our programmes are open!

Plans can change, so once you’ve secured your space, you can make unlimited changes to your travel dates, absolutely free.

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Eye-opening clinical placement

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 on your dental elective placement 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  • Lack of resources and use of outdated equipment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.

Tap into our hospital partnerships

Our long-established international hospital partnerships let us tailor your placement down to a level of detail that would be impossible if you were trying to organise your trip independently.

The partnerships also allow us to guarantee things like your placement hospital and supervision. You'll get detailed information on all of the above long before you travel.

You also get an exceptional level of flexibility should you want to amend your dental elective choices while you're overseas. All of this means you can create a placement suited perfectly to you, without the risk of your elective plans falling through.

Once-in-a-lifetime travel

As a dentistry student or graduate, your clinical placement is the focus of your trip. But your free time in the afternoons and weekends will be packed full of experiences like:

  • Relaxing on palm-lined, white-sand beaches
  • Getting close to elephants, lions and giraffes on safari
  • Swimming with curious sea turtles on warm tropical reefs
  • Hiking (or paragliding!) through the Himalays
  • Spending a weekend hopping between paradise islands

But it's the people you share it with that really make your Work the World trip memorable. You'll live with other healthcare students and graduates in a big private house.

Learn about accommodation

What's included?

The service you get with us is end-to-end. That means we will support you before, during and even after your trip.

You'll get:

  • Pre-departure preparation with our UK team
  • Structured, supervised dental elective placement
  • Private, catered accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country team
  • Airport pick up and drop off
  • + more

Arrivals are every Sunday, 52 weeks of the year — travel on your dental placement when it suits you. Durations of placements for dentistry start from one week.

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Ghana - Takoradi
Dental electives in Ghana
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You’ll have an eye-opening dentistry elective in Takoradi, as there are huge differences in practise and resource between Ghana and the UK. For example, when the lights on dental chairs are broken, dentists have to resort to using their mobile phone torches to see. And in terms of practise, you’ll see that patient-centred care is absent — children are often restrained during procedures, for example. You’ll also see that there’s a big difference in how much patients understand about oral health, so you’ll be able to offer some education too. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.

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Dental electives in Ghana

Sri Lanka - Kandy
Dental electives in Sri Lanka
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On your dental elective abroad, you’ll see that dentistry in Sri Lanka hasn’t advanced at the same rate as it has in the UK, so in spite of offering similar treatments, there are big differences in the way they’re carried out. You may also see tooth staining that results from patients chewing betel leaves (a mild stimulant). Chewing these leaves can lead to cavities and, in extreme cases, oral cancer. Sri Lanka has high oral cancer rates, and many clinicians believe that betel leaves are the main reason for this. The learning experience goes both ways, so expect local dentists to be interested in hearing about the latest techniques in the UK too! Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy. 

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Dental electives in Sri Lanka

Mexico - Merida
Dental electives in Mexico
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On your dentistry elective in Merida, you’ll learn how a lack of preventative treatments have led to 60 percent of people in Mexico showing signs of periodontal disease. There’s limited information around oral health too. As in the UK, saving the tooth is top priority, but this isn’t normally possible because patients tend to present so late — you’ll see cases that are far more severe than you would in the UK. The dentistry department in our partner hospital is split between general consultations and maxillofacial surgery. 

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Dental electives in Mexico

Zambia - Lusaka
Dental electives in Zambia
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Your dental placement in Zambia takes place in the only hospital in the city where patients have access to free or low-cost care. And even then, this is only possible because it’s a university teaching hospital. Patients have very limited access to dental care as government funding is focused elsewhere. If a patient needs restorative treatment, they can either find a government hospital or pay for private treatment. Paying for treatment is unrealistic for most Zambians, so checkups are rare and it’s common for people to wait until their condition becomes severe before they seek treatment.

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Dental electives in Zambia

Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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If you do your dental elective placement in Dar es Salaam, you’ll see that many Tanzanians suffer from oral health issues. Similar to some of our other destinations, this is because of a lack of education around oral health. You’ll see a lot of patients suffering from dental fluorosis too, and this is due to water contamination and diet. A placement here is eye-opening, and things will be different from what you’re used to in the UK. For example, patient-centred care isn’t high on the list of priorities and there are no options for sedation, or really any resources to do anything other than help patients with their immediate pain. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.

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Nepal - Pokhara
Dental electives in Nepal
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On your dental elective placement in Pokhara, you’ll see patients presenting with some of the most advanced conditions you’ve ever seen. This is because care costs money, and many patients can’t afford treatment, so they delay it as long as the pain allows. You’ll get your experience in our partner hospital’s dedicated dentistry department. While the department is quite well equipped, infection control standards are lacking. Staff reuse burs, and when things are sterilised, the sterilisation methods are not as thorough as you’re used to in the UK. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.

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Dental electives in Nepal

Nepal - Kathmandu
Dental electives in Nepal
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On a dentistry placement in Nepal, you’ll see conditions that you might only see in clinical journals in the UK. Odontogenic cysts, for example. Previous students have even reported sitting in on advanced surgeries like mandibular resections. On the other hand, the lack of resources in the hospital will help you to appreciate just how advanced care is for patients in the UK, even on the NHS. Early diagnosis is rare in Kathmandu, so basic preventative treatment options are limited. You’ll also note that contact time with patients is shorter than in the UK — there are so many patients to see that local dentists just don’t have the time. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Dental electives in Nepal

Indonesia - Yogyakarta
Dental electives in Indonesia
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Opening 2023! Your first few hours next to the dental chair in Yogyakarta will be a crash-course on the state of dental health in Indonesia. It will be clear from day one that education around oral care at home (that and promoting limited-sugar diets) haven’t been a priority here. Patients tend to only seek treatment when there is pain, and because of this, preventative dentistry is less developed here than you’re used to in the UK. One major barrier to patients seeking care is the cost. Dental care is neither free nor subsidised in Indonesia, so the average salary wouldn’t cover tooth-saving procedures, let alone regular check-ups.

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Dental electives in Indonesia

"Due to the lack of resources, rubber dams and rotary instruments were not readily available."

Leo Sim, Queen's University, Belfast 2019

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"I got to watch lots of interesting cases such as a salivary gland stone removal"

Abbie Colley, Dundee University 2019

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"I learnt a lot from the main dentist at the hospital. He was very patient and guided me along the way."

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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What do our dental electives offer?

A Work the World dental elective abroad gives you the chance to undertake a clinical placement in the developing world. You will spend time in a low-resource hospital and see unfamiliar practices and advanced conditions. You can even choose the departments you want to rotate through. Learn more here.

What are the benefits of a Work the World dental elective?

The benefits of our dental electives 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 countries can I travel to on a Work the World dental elective?

Work the World organise dental electives in Africa, Asia or Latin America, with placements in 10 different countries: 1. Tanzania 2. Zambia  3. Indonesia 4. Mexico 5. Ghana 6. The Philippines 7. Nepal 8. Sri Lanka.

What kinds of cases will I see on a Work the World dental 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

How long is a Work the World dental elective?

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