Winter 2020 Newsletter

Over the course of 2019, 77 dental students, coming from universities across the globe, dedicated a week or more of service to OWF. We are encouraged to see that student volunteer numbers have tripled over the last three years. We’re grateful for the commitment of these students and their interest in not only doing good dentistry but cultivating cross-border friendships and goodwill in Guatemala.

The Peronia dental clinic continues to thrive and serves as a model and teaching center for all of our other clinics. Our volunteer numbers have never been higher and we are gratified to see many returning groups. Local staff training continues under the direction of Spear Study Club leader and Ambassador, Dr. Mike Johnson. We know these trainings are key to creating sustainable clinics that are prepared to provide the best preventative and restorative dental care to at-risk communities.

Founders Glen and Lisa Wysel awarded the first non-dentist ambassadorship to Candice Giotopoulos at the 2019 Spear Summit in Scottsdale. Candice has accompanied her husband Dr. Paul Giotopoulos several times to Guatemala bringing her own talents and heart to the clinic and patients. Her passion for the work of Open Wide is appreciated by all who are lucky enough to meet her and work with her. The Giotopoulos’s live and work in New York and are expecting their first baby soon!


This summer our office hosted two special guests from Guatemala. Dr. Rodrigo Davilla, current Dental Clinic Supervisor for the municipality of Villa Nueva visited the team at SPEAR in August. We first met Rodrigo when he began his work at the clinic as a dental resident from San Carlos University. Since then, many SPEAR volunteers have enjoyed working with

Rodrigo, providing mentorship to him in pediatrics, special care, and advanced restorative techniques. Having Rodrigo in Scottsdale where he could reconnect with mentors, see the facility, and experience the exciting climate of SPEAR was a great opportunity for him and for all who spent time with him.

In May, Jimena Parada, a young medical student from Guatemala City joined us to do the complete translations, from Spanish to English, of our Open Wide clinical and administrative manuals. The guides, written in collaboration with Spear dentists, Open Wide volunteers and local staff were written to document all of the important functions, processes, and procedures that make the clinics run smoothly and they have proven to be an essential resource for our Guatemalan clinics. Thanks to Jimena’s translations, we will have the option to share the material on a wider scale in the future. It was a pleasure to have Jimena with us for several weeks in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Open Wide student ambassadors and the first two
recipients of OWF’s Student Scholarship, Dominique
Chagniot and Iriff Ulep, found time in their busy lives as UCSF dental students to publish an article in the UCSF alumni magazine about the work of Open Wide. By sharing about the mission of OWF and the exciting opportunities for students to volunteer in Guatemala they were able to
raise $970 for future student scholarships! The OWF Student Ambassador program was developed by Ryan

Guggenheim, dental student from USC. Out of the program came the idea of creating a scholarship fund to help cover trip expenses for students participating in a week of service in Guatemala. Thanks to Ryan’s work, the ambassador scholarship program is spreading to other U.S. dental universities. If you would like to support the scholarship fund or would like to learn more about how to become involved in the student ambassador program, contact Open Wide and we will help you get started!


In early 2019, Dr. Karl Andreasen, Spear dentist and Open Wide volunteer, reached out to OWF with the idea of doing a fund-raiser in his own community. Karl and his staff from Momenta Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery went to work and organized the first-ever OWF Charity Ball at the historic landmark Center in Minneapolis!

OWF local Ambassadors, Dr. Rick Timm and his wife Sue agreed to join the gala and share the positive impact that Open Wide has made in Guatemala and in their own lives. Thanks to the tremendous amount of work Dr. Andreasen and his staff put into the event, they were able to raise over $17,000 in donations! We often say that Open Wide is about “Open Mouths, Open Minds and Open Hearts” and we see it in action with effort such as this! Thank you!


In July 2019, volunteer Angela McKinneymade her first trip to the Peronia Clinic. For the past three years, she had worked extensively with native families and youth in remote areas of Alaska. Seeing the need for caries prevention in these populations she began her work with SDF – a new caries prevention technique that is proving to revolutionize how we can avoid decay and tooth loss in underserved populations.

On this first trip to Peronia, Angela worked diligently to train staff and deliver SDF treatments to the youngest of our patients. Together the team treated a record of 192patients in one week! Her son, Chase, was there also to capture the groundbreaking week. Since her first trip, Angela returned two more times in 2019 to continue to support this exciting initiative.

Angela’s contribution comes on the heels of an enormous amount of work and collaboration starting with researchersSteve Duffin, DDS, and MicrobiologistMarcus Duffin and their willingness to share their groundbreaking research and development in chemical treatment of caries. A special thank you to our ambassadors Drs. Burris, Cornehl, Schaffer, Hicks, Johnson, Pearce, and Tesoniero for their participation in the review and recommendation.
Please watch for more information in future communications about this exciting initiative!


Guatemalan dental graduates from San Carlos University
(a prominent public dental university in Guatemala City),are required to give back in their fifth year by working in a rural public clinic for nine months. Our Open Wide SanPedro clinic staff enjoyed the opportunity of having daniel and Nataly completes this requirement with them.
Their main focus was to provide oral health education and free dental care to children. The student graduates also led fluoride applications in the local schools near the clinic.

Our Open Wide volunteers especially enjoyed working alongside these special young practitioners. Daniel and Nataly provided translation to our volunteers, stayed after hours in the clinic to assist volunteer weeks, and participated during their school break in SDF training led by our volunteers.


January is a back-to-school season in Guatemala. With this in mind, our Peronia staff shared with us how impactful it would be to be able to distribute school supplies following our young patient appointments. In Guatemala, many children can’t go to school simply because their families can’t afford books, uniforms, and school supplies. Through the leadership of Magdalena Sabat, Spear Customer Resource Specialist, and the Spear Cares committee we were able to address this need by donating and assembling 300 backpacks filled with school supplies! The backpacks will be delivered by our Ambassador Mike Johnson in the Spring when he leads a student group to Guatemala to dedicate a week of service in our clinics.


We wanted to give a special shout-out of gratitude to Dr. Frank Romano, one of our OWFAmbassadors, for going the extra mile to support the Open Wide Foundation by doing a 2019Facebook birthday fundraiser. A generous heart and steady dedication to the mission of Open Wide have brought Dr. Romano back to our clinics in Guatemala multiple times. He has become a foundational leader in the OWFSpecial Care Dentistry program in our Peronia clinic.
Since its inception, the program is reaching hundreds of special needs patients who before had no access to dental care. If you would like to do your own Facebook Birthday Fundraiser to benefit Open Wide, reach out to and our staff will be glad to help you get started.