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Innovative dental implant treatment taken to Easter Island on a humanitarian mission

Through their mission, Drs. Kenji Higuchi (left) and Rubén Rosenberg have dramatically improved the quality of life of 11 edentulous patients. (Photograph: FOR, Switzerland)
Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

Tue. 17. July 2018


RAPA NUI, Chile: Dental implantology experts and the Foundation for Oral Rehabilitation (FOR) have taken a new treatment solution for edentulism to Rapa Nui, one of the most isolated inhabited locations in the world, also known as Easter Island. The island is home to a population of less than 8,000 and primarily one resident dentist serves the community. Consequently, dental services are limited, and many inhabitants are faced with severe financial restrictions too. In response to this need for care, Dr. Rubén Rosenberg partnered with FOR expert network member Dr. Kenji Higuchi to initiate this project.

In the weeklong mission led by these two surgeons, 11 Easter Island patients with mandibular edentulism underwent definitive treatment with a fixed full-arch solution. Higuchi is the innovator behind this treatment, the recently launched Trefoil system. Introduced by Nobel Biocare in 2017, it features a premanufactured bar placed on three dental implants. The final screw-retained bridge can be placed on the day of surgery.

In Rapa Nui’s small local hospital, a volunteer team of surgeons, prosthodontists, laboratory technicians, nurses, support staff, and the island’s primary resident dentist, Dr. Felipe Collao, performed the treatments. The surgeries were completed within two days, and all patients received their final prostheses by the third. Utilizing only the Trefoil protocol, the treatments were performed in a small, basic clinical setting without the help of sophisticated dental equipment and technology. With surgery and restoration now complete for all 11 patients, Collao will provide follow-up services along with Rosenberg and the rest of the team, who intend to provide ongoing support and care for all 11 patients in the years ahead.

FOR Executive Director Michael Hotze said, “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.”

Higuchi added, “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. The improvement in their quality of life will be witnessed by the community for years to come.”

FOR is an independent, international initiative that unites professionals from various disciplines to improve oral health care and support humanitarian leadership. Since its inception in 2013, FOR’s mission has been to help treat more patients in a humanitarian manner that best reflects innovation and the highest standards of scientifically based treatment. To record this project, a professional film crew followed the progress at every step for a video documentary.

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