Easter Island Residents Receive Full-Arch Solutions for Their Edentulism

Dentistry Today


Dental implantology experts and the Foundation for Oral Rehabilitation (FOR) have taken a new treatment solution for edentulism to Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, in a humanitarian endeavor. In the week-long project led by surgeons Kenji Higuchi, DDS, and Ruben Rosenberg, DDS, 11 native patients with mandibular edentulism were treated with a fixed, full-arch solution and received their final bridge all within just three days. 

Rapa Nui is one of the most isolated inhabited locations in the world. With a population of less than 8,000, it is served primarily by one resident dentist. Residents also face financial limitations in finding oral healthcare. Rosenberg partnered with Higuchi, who is a member of the FOR Expert Network and innovator behind the Trefoil system, to treat these patients.

Introduced by Nobel Biocare in 2017, the Trefoil system features a premanufactured bar placed on three dental implants. The final screw-retained bridge can be placed on the day of surgery, depending on clinician preference and close cooperation with the laboratory. A voluntary team of surgeons, prosthodontists, lab technicians, support staff, and the island’s primary dentist, Dr. Felipe Collao, performed the treatment in Rapa Nui’s small hospital. 

The surgeries were completed in two days, and all patients received their final bridge by day three. Using only the Trefoil protocol, the treatment was performed in a small, basic clinical setting without sophisticated equipment or technology. With surgery and restoration now complete, Collao will provide follow-up services with Rosenberg and the rest of the team, who intend to provide ongoing support and care for all 11 patients in the years ahead. 

“We are deeply honored to have taken part in this project, reaching out to an underserved population in providing their much needed treatment. It is part of our long-term mission to support better implant treatment around the globe, and I look forward to seeing their successful follow-ups in the months and years to come,” said Michael Hotze, executive director of FOR.

“With a chair time of only three days, I am very proud to report that our team completed the Trefoil surgical, restorative, and laboratory protocols for 11 patients. While we achieved an unimaginable accomplishment, the appreciation and gratitude from the patients humbled our entire clinical team,” said Higuchi. 

“Most importantly, the gratitude of the Rapa Nui patients involved was through the roof with heartwarming responses. The improvement in their quality of life will be witnessed by the community for years to come,” said Higuchi.

FOR is an independent, international initiative that unites professionals from various disciplines to improve oral healthcare and support humanitarian leadership. Since its inception in 2013, its mission has been to help treat more patients in a humanitarian manner that best reflects innovation and the highest standards of scientifically based treatment.

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