Spring 2005 Table of Contents
Research in Focus
New Dental Implant Design Speeds Healing

Dr. John Ricci




NYUCD Professor Creates FDA-Approved Bioengineered Implant

An NYUCD professor has come up with a new twist on dental implants that speeds healing, minimizes bone loss, and promotes longevity of the implant.

Professor John Ricci's design for an implant, whose surface has been precisely engineered for stability, received FDA approval last October and became widely available to dentists this past winter. Dr. Ricci, an Associate Professor of Biomaterials and Biomimetics, etched microgrooves that are exactly the size of soft and bone tissue cells -- 8-12,000th of a millimeter deep -- into the top, or collar, of the implant, using a computer-guided laser to pattern these grooves so that they lock the cells into a "tissue-engineered" seal.

He originally developed this technology while serving as a faculty member of the NYU-Hospital for Joint Diseases. His collaborators included Dr. Sally Frenkel, an Associate Professor at the hospital's Musculoskeletal Research Center; the late Dr. Charles Naiman, a laser physicist; and Dr. Harry Alexander, an Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at Rutgers University and the President of Orthogen Corporation, a start-up research company he co-founded with Dr. Ricci. Orthogen refined the technology and later licensed it to BioLok International, which won FDA approval to market it as the LaserLok™ implant.

"Because the new LaserLok™ implant prevents bone loss and promotes faster healing of the gums following surgery, dentists can make greater use of early and immediate loading protocols that may reduce treatment time by as much as six months," Dr. Ricci said. "Immediate implant placement can restore patients with relatively healthy gums and good oral hygiene to improved function and esthetics in as little as one treatment visit, compared to traditional protocols requiring patients to wait up to six months after surgery for their gums to heal and for bone to stabilize the implant."

LaserLok™ is the first FDA-approved implant with a tissue-engineered microtextured surface. Dr. Ricci believes the FDA action may help speed other microtexturing applications to market. "Once you've convinced the FDA of your safety and efficacy, it's easier to get a serious hearing from potential licensing partners," he said.