Shrewsbury Dentist Volunteers in Guatemala

Shrewsbury Patch talks with Dr. Todd Pizzi, a local Shrewsbury dentist who recently aided other dentists in volunteering dental restorations for people in the community surrounding a permanent dental clinic installed with the Open Wide Foundation.

Dr. Todd Pizzi of Modern Dentistry recently returned from a volunteer trip in which he offered his time, expertise, skills, and a generous donation to the people of Peronia, Guatemala. The organization that made this all possible is the Open Wide Foundation, whose mission is to “make a significant, measurable and lasting change in the state of oral health in impoverished communities worldwide.”

Embarking on his first international volunteer experience, as a recent press release reads, he spent a week in the town of Peronia, providing basic dental care to the people of the town. Having begun his career on a Navajo Reservation, Dr. Pizzi knows the importance of volunteering to aid the efforts in impoverished countries.

“In Peronia, there is a great need for dentistry; over half of the country is living below the national poverty line. Access to quality health care is scarce, leading to rising numbers of deaths from preventable diseases and malnutrition. Children and infants are the most affected.”

Dr. Pizzi spent four days in the clinic and another two exploring the region. He was able to form life-long relationships and create unforgettable memories. His donation assisted with the provision of dental supplies and the general upkeep of the clinic where he volunteered.

open wide foundation


Shrewsbury Patch spoke with Dr. Pizzi about the recent trip.


Shrewsbury Patch: What inspired you to go there in particular?

Todd Pizzi: Friends asked me to join them. I had been thinking about volunteer work for a while and when they asked I was immediately interested because it seemed meaningful, and the Open Wide Foundation is associated with the Scottsdale Center for Dentistry, where I take a lot of my continuing education.

SP: What are some procedures/services you provided, particular help you gave, that one wouldn’t necessarily ever realize or imagine?

TP: Mostly basic dentistry on school children and adults alike. A lot of fillings and extractions. I did repair some broken teeth on a policeman who was injured in a car accident chasing a burglary suspect.

SP: What really sticks in your mind from the trip?

TP: We stayed in the town of Antigua, which is very charming and has excellent restaurants. But my favorite memories are the kindness of the Guatemalan people. They were all very receptive and appreciative. The assistant director of the clinic, Vivian, was the person I will remember the most for her ability to run the daily operations of the clinic in a calm and effective manner.

SP: Would you go back? Are you going back?

TP: Absolutely. We are planning to go back next year

SP:  Is it dangerous at all to be there, and were you fearful at any time?

TP: Much of the area is behind barbed wire or metal bars. Most businesses are under armed guard including dental clinic which is under 24-hour armed guard. So it makes you a little worried.  there is a reason those guards are there. Guatemala is still recovering from a 60 year civil war. But the warmth of the people removed any concerns I had. It wasn’t much different than taking the normal precautions when traveling abroad.

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