Egon Nikolai, a local dentist and former Burnaby city councillor, left for Cambodia last week on a two-week working holiday.
He is volunteering his medical services to help locals there, some of whom may have never seen a toothbrush.
This is one of many such trips Nikolai has taken to various developing countries in the past 40 years, when he began serving with Medical Ministry International.
Last year, the humanitarian organization treated more than one million people worldwide in dental, medical, ophthalmological and surgical procedures, as well as preventative health education.
"It's a phenomenal program that they have," Nikolai said. "I like it because you don't go in there on your own. It's got to be (sanctioned) by their government . their health authority . and it's always by invitation."
Most of his work will involve tooth extractions and basic oral hygiene education, but for this trip, he has taken enough equipment to perform some restoration work, as well.
He has solar-powered equipment with him because he didn't know before he left what the amenities would be like.
During a mission to Nicaragua, Nikolai and his team slept on the clay floor of a grainery and worked from sunrise to sunset to see as many people as possible.
Over the years, he has pulled teeth, sutured gums, relieved pain and filled cavities, as well as educated impoverished people on how to prevent tooth decay.
If they do not have toothpaste, or simply cannot afford to buy it, he advises them to use salt and water.
While in Cambodia, his accommodation and meals will be provided, but Nikolai pays about $1,300 for each of his trips. He has been offered sponsorship from the local Rotary Club, and from his church, but he won't accept any funding.
"That's what we wanted to do - provide our services free to the people," he said. "That's how the organization started, so we don't want to breach that code of ethics."
As a semi-retired dentist, Nikolai teaches part-time at the University of British Columbia school of dentistry, where he encourages his students to give back.
"The world is a little bit different out there," he tells them. "Always give a little bit back from the good life that we enjoy here."