Student’s Work On New Implant Method Wins $100,000 Grant

Amir Fakhrzadeh

A postgraduate student’s proposed alternative to titanium dental implants was awarded $100,000 from Rutgers University Tech Advance, which funds research for potential commercial development.

Dr. Amir Fakhrzadeh, a resident in the Periodontics Department, has designed a method of replacing teeth with a composite biomaterial of cement mixed with patient dentin, which mimics natural teeth.

The process also involves creating a tooth-shaped customized implant, which is inserted within an hour of tooth extraction, the recommended time for re-implanting a natural tooth after it is knocked out. “This strategy combines simple, traditional procedures with modern techniques and technologies, ” explains Fakhrzadeh, who recently completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in regenerative medicine at the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials. “The goal is to trick the body into thinking the implant is a natural tooth and deliver it quickly while the cells responsible for normal periodontal healing are still viable.”

According to Fakhrzadeh, his work could lead to a faster, more affordable, and far less invasive alternative to titanium implants. Although they are considered the standard for tooth replacement, titanium implants are often associated with risks, and their complications can be debilitating, said Fakhrzadeh.

Another limitation of titanium implants is that they normally can’t be used for patients between the ages of 6 and 22 due to continued facial growth. This causes the implant to become malpositioned, leading to functional and esthetic issues. Fakhrzadeh said his more organic implant method should be better-suited for younger patients.

His  protocol involves the use of cone beam CT imaging and computer-aided design software to develop tooth replicas before extraction.  The replicas, created from a 3D printed mold or negative, are implanted immediately after extraction once the original tooth is ground up, sterilized, and combined with cement material during a chair side procedure that takes about 30 minutes, said Fakhrzadeh.

A patent is pending for the implant composition and methods that support the procedure. The funding from Rutgers TechAdvance, a branch of the Rutgers University Office of Research and Economic Development, will help fund further in vitro and in vivo studies designed to test the healing of the composite implants in an animal model.

Fakhrzadeh is also in the process of applying for additional public and private funding while meeting with potential investors who can help bring the technology to market.