Great Shape! Inc.’s 1000 Smiles Dental Project provides free access to dental care and education to families in the Caribbean. More than 350 volunteers join 1000 Smiles each year to provide people with fillings, cleanings, extractions, sealants, dentures and oral health education in temporary dental clinics and schools. Each week during the project there are some 45 volunteers that make up the team.

Dental professionals and non-dental pro’s (family, friends or anyone who has a big heart and wants to help) work out of temporary, MASH-style clinics – using some of the best military-grade mobile equipment.

Our teams partner with the Sandals Foundation, 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, entertainment, logistical support and in-country transportation at no charge.

Our group divides into 3 to 4 teams consisting of dentists, assistants, hygienists and other support. Each team includes about 13 people, assigned to different locations. The typical clinic features five chairs with three dentists and two hygienists. 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. All types of dentists are welcome. The typical general dentist will perform about 70% extractions and 30% restoratives. We do our best to match up dentists with teams that compliment their skills. 

Our fifth team visits schools in the area to promote 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. 

You can.

You don’t have to be a dental professional to volunteer on the 1000 Smiles Project. Dentists of all types, hygienists, dental and hygiene students and other dental professionals make up about 2/3 of our team. The other 1/3 includes friends, parents, students, retirees, folks from all kinds of professions and all walks of life. Non-dental professionals help with various jobs including patient flow, sterilization, radiography, chair side assisting and the education team. Volunteers must be 18 years or older. Exceptions may be requested from Great Shape! staff. 

Each year, these humanitarian heroes travel to Jamaica from all across the USA, Canada, Jamaica, the UK and beyond to help 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. 

Our volunteers are always telling us their lives have been forever changed in a positive way 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 take the opportunity to become their very best selves.

  1. Volunteers pay their own airfare and project fee*.
  2. Hotel, food, drinks, airport transfers in-country 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! Inc. and 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. Many volunteers get these items donated.
  6. All other volunteers bring 2 boxes of gloves in their size and 200 toothbrushes.
  7. Volunteers pay to ship their supplies to Miami. Great Shape! 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.

Most volunteers stay for 1 week (9 nights/10 days). However, there are some two-week spaces, which are very limited and allotted based on programmatic need, seniority and other factors. You must arrive and depart on specific dates (see project date tab). 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, including hotels. 

The 1000 Smiles Project was co-founded and is directed by Great Shape! Executive Director Joseph Wright (aka Papa Joe) and by Sherwin Shinn, DDS (aka “Doc”), who is the 2013 ADA Humanitarian of the Year. Jamaica’s own Salli-Jo Walker is the 1000 Smiles Project Manager and runs most of the day to day operations of the project. She answers your questions about supplies, instruments and everything you need to succeed in country. Tiffany Rinaldi-Delaney is our Senior Executive Assistant, based in California. She approves all applications and assists with registration and payments. Each session also features a dedicated team of project coordinators to make all the “behind-the-scenes” magic happen! 

We work under the authority of the Dental Council of Jamaica and the Jamaican Ministry of Health. Therefore dental professionals must register with the Dental Council for temporary license to practice. Great Shape! facilitates this process. We often have Jamaican dental auxiliaries work with us in the clinics. 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. 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.

The work is challenging and rewarding. After a long, hard day in the field, you’ll experience fun and 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 of each project are set aside for orientation and set up.

Dental work in rural Jamaica is challenging. Our volunteers often tell us “I never work this hard at home!” You’ll work in the humid, tropical heat, often in rudimentary buildings, sometimes without power or water. Sometimes the equipment 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 and to make your work environment as safe and comfortable as possible.

The project provides patient chairs, stools, sterilization and delivery systems. Through the generous donations of various volunteers, we have portable ADEC delivery units. 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 after every patient. We also provide steam autoclaves at each clinic, along with amalgamators and cure lights. We are working toward digital x-rays at every clinic but this is not yet standardized. We have some Cavitrons and tips but we recommend hygienists bring their own if possible. All dentists, hygienists and assistants 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 $60 USD. Try Black Diamond brand. 

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 ship enough disposable supplies to treat 75 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 by July. 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 have trouble with supplies or instruments please contact us. We will work with you to try and get what you will need to volunteer.

The clinics are scattered throughout the Parishes of Hanover (town of Negril), St. James & Trelawny (town of Montego Bay), St. Ann & St. Mary (town of Ocho Rios), St. Elizabeth & Westmoreland (town 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. Although your project will not change, your specific hotel/location can change at any time at the sole discretion of Sandal Resorts.

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 10-minute to 2-hour drive from the Montego Bay Airport. Each volunteer will share a room with two other people. Couples are encouraged to bring a third person or pay a third project fee to secure a private room for the two of them. Couples may also elect to room separately. 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. If you wish, organize your group into three’s so you can room 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!

Volunteers make their own travel arrangements but must arrive and depart the hotel on the exact approved dates. Shop around before you buy.


  • The airport you MUST fly into is Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica or “MBJ”.  Airfare from the US/Canada to Jamaica can vary from $300 to $900 depending on location, airline and availability. Many airlines provide service to Jamaica.

Saint Lucia

  • The airport you MUST fly into is Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia or “UVF”. Airfare from the US/Canada to Saint Lucia can vary from $900 to $1400 depending on location, airline, and availability.


  • The airport you MUST fly into is Maurice Bishop International Airport (M.B.I.A.) in St. Georges, Grenada or “GND”. Airfare from the US/Canada to Grenada can vary from $500 to $1000 depending on location, airline, and availability.

All visitors to Jamaica are required to carry a current (not expired) passport to enter Jamaica. Americans, Canadians and citizens from several other countries are NOT required to have 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 photocopy 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.

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 for Jamaica. In 2014, the Chikungunya Virus spread across the Caribbean, including Jamaica. Chikungunya is a virus that causes joint pain, fever, headache and sometimes rash. It appears the outbreak has run its course and is no longer considered a high risk in Jamaica, but all volunteers will be advised to follow normal precautions of wearing mosquito repellent and long clothes where mosquitos are present.

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 or availability of health care services may be well below what you are use to.

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 health 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 keep phone numbers of primary care providers with you at all times.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, Jamaica has an HIV rate of 1.7% of the population as of 2012. This is far below many countries in Africa and other places (US is listed at 1%). We place a high emphasis on safety with our volunteers to take the greatest of care when working out in the field. 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 exposed to HIV, 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.

Water in most communities 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. Eat and drink well to stay nourished and hydrated!

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