Collaboration Brings Restorative Dentistry to Kingdom of Tonga

Dentistry Today


The Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine Arizona and Planmeca said they will collaborate to expand restorative dentistry to the Kingdom of Tonga by donating CAD/CAM dentistry equipment and software.

This donation, coordinated by dean P. Bradford Smith, DDS, of the college and by Planmeca USA schools and institutions sales manager Don Erickson increases the level of dental care in the form of indirect restorations for the first time to the kingdom’s population of more than 100,000, the partners said.

With the donation of a Planmeca mill, two Planmeca intraoral scanners with laptops, and Planmeca Romexis and PlanCAD Easy Design and Mill software, the Tongan dental team at Vaiola Hospital can help the people of the island nation save their teeth by fabricating restorative crowns onsite at the clinic at a significantly reduced cost, the partners said.

Also, the group of nine dentists will complete onsite restorations within a single patient visit, which is a critical time savings for patients who may travel from the outer islands, the partners said.

This possibly is the first instance of an intraoral scanner and mill being used in the small island chains of the South Pacific, Smith said. The costs of crown manufacturing have been prohibitive to the Tongan population, in addition to the extended time in sending impressions overseas to be milled and returned for placement, the partners added.

The dental school has been conducting mission trips to Tonga for more than 10 years, assisting in providing dental equipment and continuing education to advance the levels of dental care. Previous trips resulted in a dental assistance program for four-handed dentistry, advancing orthodontia care, and didactic and hands-on training in implantology, the school said.

In late 2019 during their last mission trip before travel restrictions, the Midwestern University volunteers worked with Dr. Afa Taulangovaka and the dental team to place 15 implants. Using the Planmeca CAD/CAM system, the dentists will be adept at milling crowns to complete the process, the partners said.

Planmeca said it partners with organizations through donorship and outreach to provide needed dental care to the underserved, enhancing their wellness and quality of life.

“Planmeca has made contributions worldwide, including the donations of dental units and imaging products,” said Jussi Ylisaari, director of after sales and university projects at Planmeca Oy.

“The expansion of a contribution in the area of CAD/CAM dentistry is a great addition to our outreach to provide improved dental care,” Ylisaari said.

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