Volunteer dental professionals and Medical Teams clinic staff pose for a photo after working at a Mobile Dental clinic in Oregon City in 2022.

(Portland, OR) December 19, 2022 – Medical Teams International, the global health and humanitarian organization dedicated to serving people in crisis, is recognizable throughout the Pacific Northwest for its bright red mobile clinic vehicles. These mobile clinics, which provide free or low-cost emergency dental care to marginalized communities, are experiencing a serious shortage of volunteer dental professionals.

As the largest volunteer-powered mobile dental fleet in the US, Medical Teams runs upwards of 25 clinics per week throughout Oregon and Washington. Through their fleet of mobile dental vehicles, Medical Teams brings care directly to communities. Their teams serve marginalized, rural, and isolated populations who face language, culture, and/or transportation barriers – providing high-quality care and a helping hand to connect patients with a safety net provider and dental home.

Medical Teams recruits volunteer dentists, dental assistants, and hygienists, but clinics have had to limit services or cancel clinics altogether due to lack of staff. Since January 2022, over 40 clinics have been canceled in Washington alone. These barriers prohibit people from accessing urgently-needed dental care services, prolonging their suffering. Mobile dental clinics are vital to the PNW community. Thousands of patients, including veterans, seniors, the BIPOC community, and those experiencing houselessness need these clinics to continue.

Dr. Sayed Bashar examines patient Daniela Aquino at a Mobile Dental clinic in 2021.

Dental professionals who volunteer with Medical Teams find great purpose in their work. Dr. Sayed Bashar, the dentist at Medical Teams’ sole root canal clinic, says “I just enjoy what I’m doing. The love you get from serving is out of this world,”. Dr. Bashar’s experience at a recent clinic in downtown Seattle stuck with him. “The line [outside the arena] shows how many people need services,” he explained. “Our profession needs to realize this is happening in the United States, in the heart of the eastside of Seattle, which is one of the richest areas of the country.”

Medical Teams is looking for more dentists, dental assistants and hygienists to join their volunteer team. Volunteers can choose their hours and commitments on a monthly or annual basis. “We could do so much more if we had more dentists,” says Program Support Officer Caitlin Carlton. Retired dental professionals based in Washington can join the Volunteer and Retired Providers Program (https://www.wahealthcareaccessalliance.org/vrp-program/vrp-faqs), which covers license renewal fees and provides malpractice insurance.

If you are interested in volunteering with Medical Teams’ mobile dental program, please submit an online application: https://www.cognitoforms.com/MedicalTeamsInternational1/VolunteerApplication


About Medical Teams International

Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural disasters and refugees. We care for the whole person— physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people—regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Learn more at medicalteams.org and on social media using @medicalteams.