Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


Steve Lowe


Dental, Short-term Missions, Dental Missions, Holistic, Dentists, Mission Benefits


Christianity | Missions and World Christianity | Religion


A painful toothache often becomes unbearable and an unsightly smile can bring distress. Since tooth decay is the most widespread, chronic disease globally, mission trips by dentists can make an incalculable difference when they offer dental treatment to under-resourced people around the world. Dental ministration opens the door to a caring witness of God’s love where, as Jesus modeled, the physical touch may promote spiritual healing. Often, the recruitment of dentists for short-term, missions is challenging. This mixed-methods, phenomenological, research study was designed to explore the gap in dental, mission research concerning the recruitment of dentists as it relates to the benefits and the detractors of dental, short-term missions. The study utilized Christian dentists who returned 395 quantitative, research instruments from 15 countries, 44 states, and 43 Christian religious affiliations. Qualitative interviews with 60, short-term, mission-experienced, Christian dentists—who each averaged 55, short-term, dental missions—followed the quantitative study. The theory guiding this research was inspired by Lowe & Lowe (2018) who created a holistic model integrating six developmental aspects of personhood in the spiritual, intellectual, physical, moral, emotional, and social dimensions. Christian dentists revealed a relatively equal distribution in all of the beneficial motivators, highly endorsing participation in dental, short-term missions. The detractor responses were more diverse, with most Christian dentists affirming that their participation in dental, short-term missions would not be adversely affected by detractors.