For many of the patients we treat in the Bocas Archipelago, dental care is unavailable and out of reach. With the combined factors of remoteness and expensive treatment fees, the reality of visiting a local clinic or practitioner is impossible. The dental care that Floating Doctors provides, is for most, the only opportunity individuals will have to have their dental problems seen to.

By joining Floating Doctors as a dentist, dental nurse, hygienist, tech or dental student, you will be part of the team providing this crucial dental work to the indigenous communities of the Ngäbe-Buglé in Panama. You will have the opportunity to truly challenge yourself and your dental skills; working in rural and minimalist clinical settings. Our priority is to provide you with support and guidance whilst also giving you responsibilities to help stretch and challenge your clinical skills. Volunteering with Floating Doctors means truly emerging yourself in learning, cultural exchange and a shared goal of sustainable medical development here in Panama.

Desmond Tutu: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

The sustainability of Floating Doctor’s work is of utmost importance to us as a charity. As the above Desmund Tutu quote so perfectly expresses, we need to start focusing on the causes of the dental problems we see in the communities rather than just the consequences of them. As part of this mission, we provide dental education charlas (lessons) in the clinic setting whilst also giving out dental supplies such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. Accompanying these freebies, we provide lessons on effective brushing and provide information and guidance on the importance of diet and lifestyle to the health of teeth.

What the typical Floating Doctors dental clinic looks like:

  •  On arrival at the community, we will allocate a space aside from the medical clinic for the dental room. Ideally this will be a private space but sometimes we have to work with what we have, making a public space private. (part of the fun of the resource-low setting)
  • You will be at the smallest working in a team of 3 including 1 dentist, 1 dental assistant and someone administering and intaking patients. With more dental volunteers, the dental team will be bigger with more than 1 provider and opportunities for dental education lessons.
  • There is a great need for dental care in the communities and therefore your day will likely be very busy with patients, including tooth extractions, simple restorative work and other basic procedures
  • At the end of the day, we pack up and head home (or to the river if it’s a multi-day clinic)

*For more complex and detailed dental work, we run a Friday base clinic in which we can utilize our mobile dental unit and dedicate more time and resources to patients

As a dental volunteer you will be provided with food and bed during your time with Floating Doctors and the opportunity to live within a mangrove forest! For more information about your accommodation and what is included as a Floating Doctors volunteer please read our Dental Volunteer Handbook linked below.

As a non-profit organization, we are always trying to keep our costs at a minimum. In order to provide the service that we do to the communities here in Panama we charge dental volunteers $700 a week to be with us, as well as a $100 application fee. This contribution covers your personal expenses including accommodation, food, clinic transport and washing. The remaining money goes towards paying for our pharmacy and other dental services.

We can not wait to have you as part of the team. To find out more about the opportunity please read the handbook linked below. You can register here and can contact us directly at [email protected].

We would like to thank Global Grins and Smile Squared for their ongoing support of our dental health program.