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While we build a new site, please find our basic information below. Project dates and application links are listed on the project pages.
… the world’s largest, international, humanitarian project
Click here to apply for 1000 Smiles
Project fee: $800, plus your airfare
If you have more questions, email us
1000 Smiles Project Dates:
You can choose to serve for one week at a time; ALL two-week spaces are sold out.
Week 1 - Aug 30 to Sept 8
Week 2 - Sept 7 to Sept 16
Week 3 - Sept 20 to Sept 29
Week 4 - Sept 28 to Oct 7
Week 5 - Oct 18 to Oct 27
Week 6 - Oct 26 to Nov 4
Week 7 - Nov 8 to Nov 17
Week 8 - Nov 16 to Nov 25
Sealants Project (Whitehouse)
Week 9 - May 24 to June 3
Week 10 - Nov 1 to Nov 11
The 1000 Smiles Quickie Scoop:
Great Shape! Inc.’s 1000 Smiles provides free access to dental care and education to Jamaican families. More than 400 volunteers join 1000 Smiles each year and provide Jamaicans with cleanings, extractions, sealants, and education in temporary dental clinics and schools.
Dental professionals and non-dental pro’s spend one or two weeks in Jamaica, working out of temporary, MASH-style clinics. Our teams also partner with the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Jamaica’s University of Technology.
Through our very generous partnership, the Sandals Foundation and Sandals Resorts International provide all accommodations, meals and entertainment at no charge.
It's all about "One Love"
Each year, about 300 humanitarian heroes travel to Jamaica from all across the USA, Canada, the UK and beyond to help over 15,000 people in great need. In the process, we find that we the volunteers receive far more from the project than we can ever give. We ask each volunteer to join with an open heart, a good sense of humor, a willingness to learn and the ability to "go with the flow". The purpose of this project can be spelled out in four letters: L-O-V-E!
In Jamaica, they have a saying: "One Love" - which simply means we are all brothers and sisters in the highest spiritual sense. That is why we care - that is why we come.
We are repeatedly told by our volunteers their lives have been forever changed positively by the 1000 Smiles Project. They tell us this is one of, if not the most, rewarding experiences of their lives. Volunteers make new friends, learn about Jamaicans, learn about themselves and have a chance to act from the heart to become that highest person within each one of us.
Who Can Go?
You don’t have to be a dental professional to volunteer on the 1000 Smiles Project. Dentists of all types, hygienists and other dental professionals make up about half of our team. The other half includes friends, parents, students, retirees, lawyers, construction workers and folks from all walks of life. Non-dental professionals help with various jobs such as patient flow, sterilization, chair side assisting and the education team. Volunteers must be 18 years or older. Exceptions may be requested from Great Shape! staff.
How Long Can I Stay?
Volunteers can stay for 1 or 2 weeks depending on your preference. However, two week spaces are very limited and allotted based on seniority, team composition, and other factors. You must arrive and depart on specific dates (see top for details). If you wish to arrive or depart on other dates you must get permission from Great Shape! staff and you will be responsible for any additional expenses incurred, including hotels.
1) Volunteers pay their own airfare and a $800 project fee*.
2) Hotel, food, drinks, airport transfers in Jamaica and resort amenities are all provided for free.
3) You can be refunded some or all of your project fee and airfare through our Sponsor a Smile fundraising campaign. Ask for more info.
4) Your project fee and travel expenses are tax deductible. All donations made to Great Shape! in the Sponsor a Smile campaign are tax deductible for the donor.
5) Dentists and hygienists must buy or procure donations for all supplies necessary to serve 75 patients per week.
6) All other volunteers bring 2 boxes of gloves their size and 200 toothbrushes.
7) Volunteers pay to ship their supplies to Miami. Great Shape! Inc. pays to ship the supplies from Miami to Jamaica.
* All project fees go directly to offset the expenses of the project to operate and administer a well organized, safe and productive international humanitarian experience.
The 1000 Smiles Project is facilitated by Great Shape! and directed by Joseph Wright, Executive Director of Great Shape! Inc. Joseph, better known as "Papa Joe" by the kids in Jamaica, is the primary organizer and administrator of the project. Dr. Sherwin Shinn is the clinical program director and co-founder of the 1000 Smiles Project. He is the 2013 ADA Humanitarian of the Year! Tiffany Rinaldi is our Senior Executive Assistant and she will approve all applications and assist with registration and payments. Salli-jo Walker is our in-country project manager. She will assist with supplies, instruments and on project information to get you ready to do the work. Each session also will feature a dedicated team of volunteer project coordinators to make all the “behind-the-scenes” magic happen!
The work is hard but rewarding. After a long hard day in the field, you'll experience fun & friendship in the relaxing luxury of Sandals and Beaches All-Inclusive Resorts. While the primary purpose is to help those in need, there is plenty of cross cultural interaction, learning and free-time. In general, work is 8-5 M-F while evenings and weekends offer free time. First Sundays are set aside for orientation and set up.
Our group divides into four teams consisting of dentists, assistants, hygienists and other helpers. Each team is assigned to a different location. We set up portable dental equipment in temporary clinic locations ranging from country schools to rural health clinics. We also set up a clinic at the host hotel to treat Sandals and Beaches staff. Children and adults come to us for basic dental services including cleanings, fillings, sealants and extractions. While we want to save every tooth possible, the reality is that the greatest need is often an extraction. Jamaicans are a strong people with strong bones and deep root structures that are often challenging to extract.
Our fifth team visits schools in the area promoting oral hygiene. Toothbrushes, paste, and floss are also distributed. The education component is considered critical to our long term goals of sustaining and promoting healthier teeth and gums.
Ministry of Health
We often work side by side with dental professionals with the Jamaican Ministry of Health, including dental nurses and assistants. These professionals are well educated and are experts in working on Jamaican teeth. We can learn as much from them as they do from us. The Jamaican Ministry of Health grants us permission to work in their country and requires registration of all volunteers. In all cases, we volunteers must remember that we are visitors in another country and we must always approach our relationship with Jamaican officials with the greatest of respect, honor and grace.
Dental work in rural Jamaica is challenging. Our volunteers often tell us “I never work this hard at home!” You will be working in the humid, tropical heat, often in rudimentary buildings, sometimes with the electricity or water gone. Sometimes the equipment breaks doesn’t behave. However, these challenges are all part of the adventure of humanitarian projects. We support the teams as best as possible to keep things flowing and going.
The project provides patient chairs, stools, sterilization and delivery systems. In 2012, 17 brand new portable ADEC dental units were donated by generous volunteers and others. These units feature standard 4/5 hole tubing for slow and high speed hand pieces, air/water, and suction. The suction evacuates to a saliva bottle on the unit that must be emptied into a toilet or pit after every patient. We also provide steam autoclaves at each clinic, along with amalgamators and older cure lights. We have some Cavitrons and tips but these are old. We highly recommend that hygienists bring their own Cavitron and tips and all persons bring a modern cure light. All dentists and hygienists must bring a headlight and we highly recommend that all other volunteers do so also. High lumen, focused beam headlamps can be purchased at REI or similar for around $50 USD. Try Black Diamond brand.
Hand Instruments and Supplies
Dentists and Hygienists are responsible to bring their needed hand instruments and supplies, including hand pieces and headlamps. Be sure you bring the couple/swivel that some hand pieces require to plug directly into the 4/5 hole tubing.
Volunteers must also bring enough disposable supplies to treat 50 patients per week. We provide checklists for supplies and hand instruments. Most volunteers ask their suppliers for donated materials and pharmaceuticals. Volunteers will need to box up all supplies to be used in Jamaica and ship them to Miami several weeks before the project. Great Shape! will ship all supplies from Miami to Jamaica, clear them through customs and have them available to you before your work starts. You will be given more instructions on this process.
Hand instruments and any other items you intend to bring back to the USA must be carried with you in your check-in luggage. Each volunteer must provide lists of supplies, medications, and hand tools so we can obtain appropriate approval in advance from the government of Jamaica for importation and tax waivers. More information about supplies and instruments will be given to volunteers after registration.
Lack of instruments and supplies should never be a reason to NOT volunteer with Great Shape! If you will have trouble with supplies or instruments please contact us. We will work with you to try to get what you will need to volunteer.
Locations, Schedule and Accommodations
The clinics are scattered throughout the Parishes of Hanover (town of Negril), St. James (town of Montego Bay), St. Ann & St. Mary (town of Ocho Rios), Westmoreland (towns of Whitehouse). They are located in health clinics, churches, schools and other facilities. All clinics are less than an hour's drive from the hotels. Each morning, volunteers leave the hotel at 8am by van, start work by 9am and return by 5pm. Evenings and weekends are free time except for first Sunday with is dedicated to orientation and setup.
3 People to a Room with Couples exception…
Accommodations are in the first class, all-inclusive Sandals Resorts. They include all you can eat, drink and play. These hotels are within a 2 hour drive from the Montego Bay Airport. Each volunteer will share a room with two other people. Couples must either bring a third person or pay a third project fee to secure a private room for the two of them. Please note that sometimes the rooms are small & often at least one person is assigned a roll away bed. Volunteers will be matched with roommates by request or in the most compatible way, whenever possible. We recommend organizing your group into 3’s so you can be roommates with those you know. Volunteers are welcome to enjoy the many amenities of the resorts during their free time, including various restaurants, bars, entertainment, water sports, scuba diving, pools, etc – all free!
Airfare and Travel Dates
The airport you MUST fly into is Montego Bay, Jamaica or "MBJ". Volunteers make their own travel arrangements but must arrive and depart the hotel on the exact approved dates. Airfare to Jamaica can vary from $300 to $850 depending on location, airline and availability. Many airlines provide service to Jamaica. Shop around before you buy.
All Americans are now required to carry a current passport to re-enter the USA. U.S. and Canadian citizens are not required to use a VISA to enter Jamaica. If you are not a US or Canadian citizen, please contact us to make sure you have the correct documentation for entry and return. You should always carry a photo copy of your travel documents separate from the originals in case the originals are lost or stolen. This will expedite permission to re-enter your country.
Water, Food, & Health Concerns
We highly recommend you consult your doctor before traveling to Jamaica or any foreign country for current health considerations. You may also wish to visit the US Embassy website or CDC website for latest health updates.
Having said that, water in Jamaica is treated and safe to drink from the tap. Bottled water is also readily available. The food is plentiful, delicious, fresh, varied and safe to eat. Stomach disorders in Jamaica are rare. Malaria and other mosquito transmitted diseases are rare. There are doctors and hospitals in Jamaica, but emergency services can be difficult to obtain in a timely fashion. As is typical in a developing nation, the quality of services may be well below what we are used to in America, usually due to a lack of infrastructure or personnel.
Emergency evacuation to the USA for emergency medical attention may be required, depending on the severity and urgency of the situation. We strongly advise each volunteer secure their own emergency medical travel insurance and contact your insurance company about what to do and what is covered in the event of a medical emergency. We also recommend you discuss an emergency plan with your doctor and that keep phone numbers of primary care providers with you at all times.
Jamaica has an HIV rate of 1.7% of the population as of 2009 according to the CIA world fact book. This is far below many countries in Africa and other places. Yet the risk of infection by an accidental poke with a needle or other sharp instrument remains. We place a high emphasis on safety with our volunteers to take the greatest of care in the clinics to prevent any kind of accident. Testing (patients and volunteers) for HIV is possible in Jamaica, but sometimes it is not available in a timely fashion and sometimes the patient refuses to test. In the unlikely event you are poked with a dirty needle or instrument, you will have to decide if you want to take HIV medications (prophylaxis). WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you review this possibility with your doctor prior to participation and have a post exposure plan in place for yourself.