Life After Dentistry: What’s on Your Agenda? How Volunteering Can Fulfill the Desire to Continue Practicing Dentistry

When you finish the exit planning process from your dental practice and the dust has settled from the sale, your retirement officially begins. Congratulations! Or is it?

Full retirement isn’t for every dentist. You’re leaving a profession notorious for employing high-achievers and individuals who thrive on problem-solving and interacting with patients daily. Some dentists find the slower pace of retirement a difficult adjustment, but don’t want to return to dentistry full-time or under the direction of another dentist.

If this sounds like you, you could consider achieving two goals with the same action step: volunteer your time and expertise. Retired dentists can offer valuable knowledge and skill to dental clinics and other volunteer initiatives, and you get to stay active and involved in the profession. If you have the time, volunteering is a great way to also give back to your community.

Where to Volunteer

In Maryland, there are several opportunities to volunteer as a retired dentist. Some popular annual events like Mission of Mercy and Give Kids a Smile plus other state-wide free dental clinics are good places to start to look. You can also practice in a dental office, ambulatory care facility, hospital, or for an entity providing dental care to the poor, handicapped, or elderly. The entity must be operated by the state, local government, or registered charitable organization.

Locally, there are several opportunities to give back to your community through Mission of Mercy (MoM). MoM is a multi-state organization that coordinates and promotes free dental clinics for adults. It is staffed by volunteer dentists and hygienists, and MoM events provide dental care to hundreds of people at a time. Volunteers provide cleanings, endodontics and root canals, restorative fillings, and extractions – all free of charge. They also provide malpractice insurance for medical professionals who volunteer their time.

Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy and Eastern Shore Mission of Mercy are two additional local organizations, in addition to the Maryland-Pennsylvania link above. Nationally, there are several volunteering opportunities, including Give Kids A Smile (GKAS). The kickoff event is scheduled for February 2020, locations to be determined.

For other national links to dental volunteering initiatives, click here.

You don’t need a formal, scheduled event to give back to your community. Consider offering community clinics, walk-in days (perhaps one Saturday a month), or contacting your local school district and offering to do an on-site cleaning and dental screening for children. While it can be time-consuming, the value pays off in employee engagement, community involvement, and practice reputation – all valuable intangible assets when it comes time to sell your practice.

There are other volunteer opportunities where you could combine community service with travel.  The American Dental Association, Association of Retiring Dentists (may require association membership), Global Dental Relief, Health Volunteers Overseas, and other organizations all have options for national and international dental volunteers.

Obtaining a Volunteer Dental License in Maryland

When you retire, your active dental license expires. You need a license to practice volunteer dentistry, and within Maryland, the license is free for the initial application and any renewal applications. To qualify, you should have had an active general license to practice dentistry in Maryland within the past two years, be in good moral standing, and meet other qualifications required by the state.

Therefore, if you’re newly retired or looking for a way to stay involved once you do retire, this could be a great opportunity to utilize your skills and stay active in dentistry.

Submitting your application for a volunteer dental license requires steps:

  • A completed form
  • A photograph
  • A certified letter

If you decide that you enjoy volunteering your time as a retired dentist, you must reapply by June 30 of the second year following the license’s effective date. You should also know that as a retired volunteer dentist, you cannot use your license for compensation.

There are similar volunteer licensure requirements in other states. If you relocate or want to volunteer your dental skills in another state, check with that state’s Dental Board of Examiners for specific licensure requirements. Some states require fees and different application materials.

Many retired dentists express an interest in volunteering and giving back, and many also become bored with the slower routine of retired life. If you are or decide to become a volunteer dentist in retirement, we would love to hear about your experience. And for any questions on retiring from dentistry, you can always reach out to N/L Transitions anytime.