Summer 2019 Newsletter

Kellie Sweeney, a Hygienist of over 11 years, shares about her recent volunteer outreach trip with the Open Wide Foundation. She has participated in many international outreach trips.  2018 was her first visit to Open Wide Foundation’s newest clinic of San Pedro that was recently expanded and serves the rural Mayan population in Guatemala. Kellie volunteered alongside one of her patients, Silvana who supported her week of service by translating. 

“It is transformative for the heart. Reach out… volunteer! Thank you for the memories.”

Kelly Sweeney, RDH


The Peronia staff took the initiative to receive training and certification from the Special Olympics Guatemala organization and later provided oral health checks for the Dubai Olympics participants. We are so proud of the Peronia clinic team!

The full Peronia staff received certification training from Special Olympics Guatemala. A few weeks later, staff facilitated exams for the athletes participating in the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi. Training & mentorship by Dr. Hicks, Dr. Schaffer, Dr. Romano, and other Special Care Dentistry specialists led to Peronia becoming the first year-round Special Care program in 2015.


Building strong oral health care education & prevention has been a continuous focus for Open Wide Foundation.
Last month we had a very successful SDF training week preparing the local staff to treat primary school children
for a collaborative roll out with the University of San Carlos & Villa Nueva Health Department.


After returning from their clinical week of service in Peronia, our first two Student Scholarship awardees were committed to joining Open Wide Youth Programs Ambassador Ryan Guggenheim in the establishment of the OWF
Youth Ambassadors program. They are fundraising for the next generation of students by supporting Student Scholarships!


To secure your trip in our clinic calendar please email:  Thank you to all the volunteers who have made 2019 our highest volunteer sign-ups yet!  Tip!  Consider booking your airfare through Fly for good to access discounted flights for humanitarian volunteers.



This year the San Pedro Clinic staff organized activities and hosted students from a local elementary school to celebrate International Oral Health day. Local dental residents helped organize the event, distribute educational resources and home care kits. Most importantly, the staff is continuing to build relationships with local schools to ensure the community knows the clinic is an available resource.

March 20th was designated as International Oral Health Care Day by the World Dental Federation and is observed every March 20 across the world. The campaign raises global awareness for oral health care issues and invites governments, health associations, outreach organizations and the general public to collaborate in the improvement of the quality of life to all our communities. We love that on this day outreach activities to better oral health are happening simultaneously worldwide in countries like Sudan, Egypt, Turkey and Poland.

For the sixth year, Peronia staff celebrated International Oral Health Care Day at local elementary schools in the municipality of Villa Nueva providing oral health care checks, fluoride washes, and educational instruction & resources.

“International Oral Health Day connects Open Wide efforts to a broader global health campaign crossing
international borders.”

In late 2012, the Peronia clinic was in the beginning stages of construction. The mayor of the municipality asked a group of school children to draw a picture of their dream for the new clinic. What would it look like? What would be special to them about it? Surprisingly, one of the main features in many of the children’s drawings was not a dental chair or a dentist with shiny bright teeth standing in front of the clinic… but street lights and roads. Seven years later, we see that the children’s dreams are coming true as a direct result of Open Wide. Located in a town where poverty is rampant, the new Open Wide clinic has inspired an influx of government infrastructure and community projects, new businesses, a job training school adjacent to the clinic, a bank, a restaurant, and yes, some streetlights!