East Africa: Uganda, Rwanda & Burundi



It takes 8 years to train a dentist, but just 3 years to train a Public Health Dental Officer to give anesthetic, extract teeth, and give antibiotics. We need a few dentists, hygienists and assistants every year, to train these PHDOs in preventive and restorative dental procedures. With a ratio of dentists to population of 1 to 800,000, these PHDOs are essential in Uganda and Rwanda. Service doesn’t get more potent than this; teach them and they continue working after we leave.

Conditions are excellent. English is the official language. You always feel safe…. meet at the airport, stay at clean and secure hotels or Guest Houses, teach at the dental school equipped recently by Rotary.

I am not sure that the Academy is aware of the impact that they and adoptanafricanclinic.org are having in East Africa. Academy members can continue their service in the following ways:

  • Equipment donations – We have provided 75 used Adec dental chairs and 20 new Belmont chairs to dental clinics within hospitals and dentals schools in Uganda and Rwanda and trained Dentists, Therapists and Technicians to install, maintain, and repair the equipment we have provided.
  • Education – We have taught Non-Surgical Periodontal courses hygienists have taught and mentored the dental therapists at their own clinics. We have taught courses in ART (Atraumatic Restorative Technique), posterior Amalgam restoration, Anterior Composite restoration and mentored (for at least one week) the Therapists in their own clinics
  • Mentoring – We are always in need of Academy mentors to visit Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi at their convenience, to continue the mentoring process!

The object of the program is not to extract or restore hundreds of teeth but to train and mentor many local clinicians to ensure the development of a healthy preventive and restorative dental program for these countries! We have treated hundreds of LDS missionaries and prospective missionaries at our clinic at Makerere University in Kampala, since our program of mentoring Ugandan senior dental students began in 2008. .

The clinics that we set up are continuing doing outreach to the schools to educate and screen the children. More work is needed with mentoring and teaching at the clinics.

We have set up clinics in Orphanges. The Urukundo Foundation Orphanage, better known as Mama Arlene’s orphanage has a very good functioning dental clinic. The clinics in Rwanda are very good.

Unfortunately about 2 weeks after we returned from Africa Dr. Cahoon and a friend died in a motorcycle accident. This was very unfortunate as he was the driving force promoting dentistry in East Africa.

Dr. Troy Michaelson is currently part of a humanitarian project in Africa called “Adopt an African Clinic”. They help sponsor and mentor dental therapists in Rwanda and Uganda and set up clinics in health centers. Dr. Michaelson has an associate who works for ADEC who has donated dental chairs which be sending to Africa.  They have re-established a connection in the Ministry of Health in Uganda to look after the paperwork of getting them imported. We would really like to complete this project in honor and memory of Dr. Cahoon. The Academy is working with Dr. Michaelson to get these chairs shipped and to continue what Dr. Cahoon had put in motion.

How can you help?

As soon as pandemic related travel restrictions and concerns are lifted we need several North American dentists, assistants and hygienists to come to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to train and mentor clinical practitioners at clinics in each of these countries. Our biggest need is in Burundi both with donation of money and equipment. But we also will need mentors to help at the school and the rural clinics. Drew always promised that you will experience a miracle a day in Africa. I think you will experience more than that. The other HUGE benefit of our program is we are teaching the Africans to treat their own people. We are teaching them to fish so they can feed or treat their own people. We also combine fun side trips, safaris. So far I have done white water rafting on the Nile River, visited 3 different game parks, hiked up to see the Mountain Gorillas. Explored a thick bamboo forest to see Brown Monkeys. But the best part is interacting with the people.

Participants will enjoy a wonderful church and professional experience, a 3-day safari, and work with amazing African dental professionals and their patients.

If you are interested, please contact Dr. Tom Sorensen,(801)597-2858 or rbldds82@gmail.com,  or Dr. Troy Michaelson drtroy@dimensiondentistry.com

Read more in depth information on past service opportunities in East Africa!