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Dental Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - San José

Dental Volunteer Project in Costa Rica - San José

Interested in getting experience as a Dental volunteer in Costa Rica - San José? International Volunteer HQ’s Dentistry project enables volunteers to support low income communities, so they can obtain adequate dental treatment and become more educated about dental hygiene. Volunteers are typically placed in a dental clinic or a community center that focuses on helping the local community gain access to these services. As a Dentistry volunteer, you’ll be a tremendous asset to Costa Rican dental professionals and the health facilities and communities they work in.

  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from $530 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner each day, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help provide dental care to people in need

  • Discover and adventure in Costa Rica’s incredible national parks

  • Experience daily life in San José by staying with a local family

Key information

Improve access to quality healthcare
Based in various San José neighborhoods
Local homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from $530 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 24 weeks
Spanish language lessons available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers enrolled in a post-secondary dental program, dental students, dental nurses, dental hygienists or fully qualified dentists. Tasks will range based on level of study and qualifications.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

This is an amazing opportunity for pre-dental, dental students or professionals to gain practical experience overseas, while giving back to a community who values your support. You’ll get the chance to shadow local dentistry professionals, observe clinical practice in action and enjoy the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and learnings that comes from volunteering in another country’s healthcare system.

Your tasks and the level of hands-on work you are able to complete may vary based on the needs of the project and the community at the time you are volunteering, and will also depend on your Spanish language ability, level of studies and qualifications.

As a Dental volunteer in Costa Rica, your volunteer work may include:

  • Shadowing a dentist and/or dental hygienist
  • Helping to prepare materials for treatment
  • Sanitizing and preparing instruments
  • Educating community members about dental hygiene
  • Supporting with administrative tasks in the clinics as needed

Fully qualified professionals will also have the opportunity to assist with:

  • Teeth cleaning and check-ups
  • Extractions and fillings

Volunteers are required to bring their own PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) including their own scrubs, gloves, and masks.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

Why do Dentistry volunteering in San Jose with IVHQ?

When you volunteer on the Dental project in San José you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving access to dental care in San José
  • Helping patients with daily tasks
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining dentistry experience
  • Immersing yourself fully in the Costa Rican culture
  • Exploring the buzzing capital of San José

Volunteer requirements

  • To be eligible for this project you must at a minimum be enrolled in a post-secondary dental program, or be a dental student, dental nurse, dental hygienist or fully qualified dentist.
  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Raffaella Gurini
14 Feb 2024

I learned so much about the culture and the turtles and I met so many amazing people! We had so much fun! It’s an amazing experience, an adventure of a lifetime! It changes the way you see other people, the world and even yourself in the best possible way! Just be open minded and flexible and take the next step! You won’t regret it!

Maria Jose Benet
14 Feb 2024

Two weeks in Costa Rica with IVHQ transformed me in ways I never imagined. My journey began with a desire to step out of my comfort zone, immerse myself in a new culture, and contribute positively to a community by teaching English to young kids. IVHQ stood out because of its affordability, ethical volunteering approach, and the rave reviews from past volunteers.

From the get-go, IVHQ's support was stellar, providing all the necessary guidance to prepare me for the trip. Landing in Costa Rica, the local team's warmth and efficiency shone through. The orientation was thorough, equipping us with essential information and making us feel at ease in our new surroundings.

Teaching in Quepos was a heartwarming experience, enriched by the children's enthusiasm and the local team's guidance. Their insights into the community and culture were invaluable, making our teaching efforts more effective and meaningful.

The accommodation and meals provided by the ocal team were exactly as IVHQ described—clean, comfortable, and truly felt like a home. I am a vegan and the food the family I stayed with did a big effort to assist me with my diet, all while being prepared with the utmost care for hygiene.

Reflecting on my two weeks in Costa Rica, I can say that this experience has left a profound impact on me. It wasn't just about teaching English; it was about cultural exchange, personal growth, and making lifelong connections. For those hesitant about volunteering abroad, my advice is to leap. The growth, experiences, and memories you'll gain are beyond compare.

To future volunteers, embrace every moment, and to IVHQ and the local team in Costa Rica, thank you for an experience I'll cherish forever.

Keira Trudgill
18 Jan 2024

I gained so much confidence from this trip, I feel more independent and capable of solo travelling. At first, I was very nervous to travel so far from home, especially as I did an add-on week by myself, but the staff were so helpful from when I first applied, to when we got back home and prepared us for what we would be doing and what we needed to do to prepare. They answered all our questions and made us feel comfortable and at ease. I learned so much about Costa Rican culture and also the wildlife and country itself. I left with a greater appreciation for the environment and other cultures. The advice I would give is to go with an open mind and be open to trying new things. It really was a life changing experience and I would say if you are not sure whether to apply or not you should definitely go for it! I loved it and would definitely do it again.

Holly Tyte
21 Dec 2023

This was an amazing experience and I’m so glad that I chose to volunteer with IVHQ. Having done 2 projects (Childcare and Healthcare) I felt I was able to learn so much about different systems in Costa Rica. Staying with a host family was so good to be immersed in the culture and learn more Spanish. I’ve met some incredible people and learned lots more about myself as a person.

Cassandra Merino
16 Nov 2023

As a first-time solo traveler and volunteer, I would say to anyone who asked me to 100% go on a volunteering trip and experience it, especially if they find themselves in a time of doubt when thinking of what step to take next in life. When I applied to the program, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided to take a gap year and experience new things and travel. I chose a program in Costa Rica because it is a country I had been wanting to visit for a long time and I had been told it is a very friendly country so I thought it was perfect for my first solo trip.

At the beginning of my trip, I had a hard time adapting to the slow life at my conservation site. I felt a huge impatience seeing all of my friends back home start uni, meanwhile, I felt like I was chilling at the beach and falling behind in life (which was not the case at all). As time went by, I realized that life is not supposed to be rushed through and that everyone experiences it differently. I had the opportunity to go to a beautiful town in Costa Rica and work firsthand in nature helping turtles, cleaning up the beach and park, and teaching English to a group of children and I decided to make the most out of it. Little by little I could start telling that my work there was making an impact even if it was small.

By the time my stay came to an end, I realized how much I had gained from this experience. I made amazing friends from all ages and parts of the world, I learned a lot about turtles, I got to experience solo traveling and lose the fear of being alone, and the biggest lesson I learned was how important it is to enjoy every second of life and not rush through it.

I loved volunteering and solo traveling and can't wait to do it again! It was an unforgettable experience and I am very grateful for everyone involved in the organization of the trip to make it possible for me to live such a magical experience.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit
Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica San Jose with IVHQ


San José is Costa Rica’s modern, metropolitan, cultural hub. The capital city has been hailed as one of the most visited destinations in Central America and is the central point for tourists arriving in Costa Rica. It’s got excellent eateries, an interesting variety of museums, markets, shops, parks and nightlife and is only a short trip to any of the numerous natural attractions and adventures in the region.

Arrival and orientation

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José on the Sunday before your start date.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in San José. This is included in your Program Fee.

We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation. If you are traveling in Costa Rica prior to your program, the local team will pick you up at your San José accommodation the day before your orientation.

Your check out is at 11am on the last Saturday of your program.

The compulsory program orientation is hosted by our Costa Rica team at their offices in San José on Sunday or Monday.

Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Costa Rica – an introduction to Costa Rica, its customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Costa Rica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.


During the week, you will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 3 to 5 hours. Your volunteer work and hours are dependent on the location and type of project you are participating in but a typical morning schedule is as follows:

8:00 AM Breakfast with your host family.
9:00 AM Leave home and travel to your placement. You will join the local staff and will receive a duty roster and plan for work.
12:00 PM Lunch at a local restaurant.
1:00 - 6:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. You are free to travel back to your accommodation, go sightseeing or take Spanish lessons.
7:00 PM Dinner with the host family.


Whether you want to explore or relax on your weekends in San José , there’s plenty of opportunity to do both. Stroll down the bustling Central Avenue in downtown San José and take in a museum, listen to street performers or do some shopping. Then check out the stunning architecture of the National Theater of Costa Rica, taste-test the city’s fabulous coffee or sample a brew from San José ’s blossoming craft-beer industry.

It’s worth noting that Sunday is a religious day of rest and many stores and restaurants will be closed. Costa Ricans tend to devote Sundays to spending time with their family. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is a unique and special experience for many volunteers.

On long weekends you may choose to travel around the rest of Costa Rica and the many cities, volcanoes, jungles, coffee plantations and beaches which are more than worth a visit. Many of these are only a short trip from San José .

Most IVHQ volunteers choose to take advantage of our Costa Rica - Travel and tour add-ons in their free time. Please note that volunteers on more remote projects such as Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture Conservation will only be able to join these activities before or after their program.

Accommodation and WiFi

In San Jose volunteers are accommodated in homestays with local families - it’s an immersive experience that connects you with an authentic insight into the Costa Rican way of life. You will find living conditions are comfortable and you can expect your accomodation to have electricity, drinkable running water and western bathrooms. Low pressure showers are common and the water is not always heated. Bedrooms have single and bunk beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with up to six other volunteers of the same gender in most homestays It is possible for volunteers to upgrade to a private room (double bed, shared washroom) for $62 per person, per week.

If you are traveling as a family, the local team will place you in a separate homestay to ensure all family members are accommodated together.

Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are traveling solo will be accommodated separately from those over the age of 18. If there are other volunteers under the age of 18 participating at the same time, the local team will do their best to ensure they are accommodated together.

WiFi is available at the homestays, and you will also have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office in San José.


Volunteers are provided with breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. Breakfast typically consists of toast, fruit, eggs, rice and beans accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner usually includes: meat (typically chicken), starches and vegetables. Costa Rica’s national dish, Gallo Pinto, is made of rice and beans and served with nearly every meal. Lunches are not provided to San José -based volunteers, as they are typically away from their accommodation at midday. Budget between $5 and $10 per day to buy lunch.

If you have specific dietary requirements, our local teams and homestays can cater to you, however keep in mind that as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.


  • USD
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $530 Equivalent to $76/day
2 weeks $905 Equivalent to $65/day
3 weeks $1,270 Equivalent to $60/day
4 weeks $1,600 Equivalent to $57/day
5 weeks $1,890 Equivalent to $54/day
6 weeks $2,180 Equivalent to $52/day
8 weeks $2,760 Equivalent to $49/day
10 weeks $3,340 Equivalent to $48/day
12 weeks $3,920 Equivalent to $47/day
16 weeks $5,080 Equivalent to $45/day
20 weeks $6,240 Equivalent to $45/day
24 weeks $7,400 Equivalent to $44/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner each day
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Costa Rica generally find US$150 - US$200 per week to be sufficient for expenses. For Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture projects, volunteers can bring less spending money as the location is remote and all meals will be provided.

Free-time experiences & tours in Costa Rica

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Costa Rica! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Costa Rica program.

Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio

Immerse yourself in Manuel Antonio’s stunning natural beauty and thrilling activities on this 6-day adventure

Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose

Embark on a full-day adventure exploring La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary, and a Poas Volcano Tour, followrd by a Coffee Farm experience.

Mini Adventure  - San Jose
Mini Adventure - San Jose

Experience a comprehensive 6-day Mini Adventure, featuring Arenal Volcano, the Britt Coffee Tour, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, whitewater rafting, and a visit to the pristine Tortuga Island.

Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio
Beach and Jungle Mini Adventure - Manuel Antonio

Immerse yourself in Manuel Antonio’s stunning natural beauty and thrilling activities on this 6-day adventure

Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose
Coffee & Nature Experience - San Jose

Embark on a full-day adventure exploring La Paz Waterfall Gardens, an animal sanctuary, and a Poas Volcano Tour, followrd by a Coffee Farm experience.

Zipline, Tarzan Swing and Superman Cable - San Jose
Zipline, Tarzan Swing and Superman Cable - San Jose

Experience an adrenaline-filled journey through Costa Rica’s lush rainforest on a heart-pounding canopy tour, featuring the “Tarzan Swing,” “Superman Cable,” and the “Elevator,” xperience an exhilarating journey through Costa Rica’s lush rainforest on a heart-pounding canopy tour, featuring the “Tarzan Swing,” “Superman Cable,” and the “Elevator”.


Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Costa Rica program, however, learning basic conversational Spanish will help you maximize the benefit of your program. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. Please note these lessons are not available on the Holiday Experience, Eco-Agriculture or Turtle Conservation projects.

San Jose Language Lessons:

  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: $145 (approximately $145) per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: $225 (approximately $225) per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: $455 (approximately $455) per week

Check what's required to visit Costa Rica

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 71°F (21.7°C) and 81°F (27°C). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 69°F (20.6°C).

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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