Determining Local Needs

Nature and Number of Tasks that can be Performed

In addition to ensuring compliance with regional dental standards, the mission coordinator must estimate the number of anticipated patients. This number and an estimate of types of treatment to be provided affect the number and types of instruments, equipment, personal protective barriers and related materials required. Arrangements to bring the necessary supplies must be taken into account. See Appendix B - "Instrument/Workload Calculation" to help calculate the number of instruments and amounts of materials needed.

Tasks that Cannot be Performed

Every mission has limitations. It is safe to assume that efficiency on an oral health mission will be less than the typical clinical environment where the volunteers usually practice. The types of oral hygiene instruction, diagnoses and treatment that can be provided must be specifically identified. Factors such as available resources, the time required to process instruments, the capacity per cycle of cleaning and sterilization equipment, and the number of staff available for activities, such as instrument recycling, influences greatly the amount and type of care that can be provided.

Establishing Local Contacts – Advanced Arrangements

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Ensure that advanced arrangements have been made for arrival and setup on site. See Appendix A - "Main Checklist for Oral Healthcare Missions" and Appendix C - "Site Evaluation Summary." (Used with permission from the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention, OSAP, 2016.)

  • Have a letter of invitation or support from local sponsors,
  • Make a site visit, if possible.
  • Obtain permits to practice, if necessary.
  • Identify available resources (e.g., electricity, potable water, food, accommodations, etc.).
  • Identify the available local medical emergency services.
  • Review local waste disposal resources.
  • Identify local sanitary facilities.
  • Identify and plan for the primary needs of the local population.
  • Respect the prioritization of needs by the local dental professional sponsors.