The universal need for dentistry persists and short-term missions (STMs) with dentists
can make an incalculable difference to the participants and the recipients when charitable
dental treatment is offered to underresourced people. The authors studied the holistic
benefits of STMs for dentists, identified how STM detractors can be overcome, and
provided recruitment recommendations for engaging dentists in STMs.
The authors of this mixed-methods, phenomenological research explored recruitment
recommendations for dentists considering dental STMs via evaluating the holistic benefits
and the detractors through the integration of the following developmental areas: emotional,
intellectual, physical, moral, social, and spiritual.
Dentist participants revealed a relatively equal distribution of holistic beneficial
motivators and encouraged participation in dental STMs. The more diversified detractor
responses suggested that STM-experienced dentists were not easily deterred from dental
Outcomes of quantitative research instruments and qualitative interviews strongly
suggested that dentists favored the benefits of dental STMs, almost equivalently,
in 6 holistic developmental areas and generally disagreed that the detractors of dental
STMs adversely affected their involvement.
The dentists surveyed advocated for dental STMs as a “life-transforming,” developmentally
holistic experience that brings caring and hope in action to underserved people globally.
Detractors of dental STMs can be overcome, and dentists essentially concurred that
quality dental STMs could be performed in portable, often austere, situations. Beneficial
recruitment recommendations are presented for dentists contemplating STM participation.