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Planmeca Brings Implant Dentistry to Tonga With Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine Arizona Mission Team

Donation of CAD/CAM equipment and software fosters for improved dental care.


Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine Arizona and Planmeca have announced cooperative efforts to expand restorative dentistry options in the Kingdom of Tonga by donating CAD/CAM dentistry equipment, software and care.

This donation, coordinated by P. Bradford Smith, DDS, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine Arizona, and 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 population of over 100,000. With the donation of a Planmeca mills, two Planmeca intraoral scanners with laptops, and Planmeca Romexis and Planmeca 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. In addition, dentists will complete onsite restorations within a single patient visit —critical time savings for patients who may travel from the outer islands.

Smith remarks this is possibly the first instance of an intraoral scanner and mill in the small island chains in the South Pacific. Unfortunately, the cost of manufacturing crowns has been prohibitive to the Tongan population due to logistics and delays, not to mention the extended time in sending impressions overseas to be milled and returned for placement.

Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine Arizona has been conducting mission trips to Tonga for over 10 years, assisting in providing dental equipment, and continuing education to advance the levels of dental care. Previous mission trips resulted in implementing a dental assistance program for four-handed dentistry, advancing orthodontia care, and providing didactic and hands-on training on implantology.

In late 2019 on their last mission trip before travel restrictions, the Midwestern University volunteers worked with 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.

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

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