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Revolutionizing Dental Implants: The Promise of 3D Printing Technology

In a groundbreaking achievement at Kepler University Hospital in Austria, a ceramic subperiosteal jaw implant has been successfully implanted into a patient for the first time ever. This milestone marks a significant advancement in the field of dental implants, particularly for addressing atrophic jaws, a common issue among older patients.The INKplant Project: Pioneering InnovationThis medical breakthrough is part of the EU-funded INKplant project, spearheaded by Profactor GmbH and comprising 19 interdisciplinary partners. Among them is Lithoz, a key player researching the integration of biomaterials with 3D printing technologies since 2021. Their collaboration has led to the development of a patient-specific subperiosteal jaw implant designed to combat atrophic jaws, which often render traditional dentures ineffective after tooth loss.Addressing a Critical Need in Elderly CareAtrophic jaws occur when the jawbone diminishes due to tooth loss, making it challenging to support conventional dental implants without extensive bone grafting. For elderly patients like the one at Kepler University Hospital, who faced complications from previous dental procedures, conventional solutions were no longer viable due to severe scarring.The Innovative Solution: Lithoz LCM TechnologyThe implant, crafted from biocompatible high-strength zirconia using Lithoz LCM (Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing) technology, offered a transformative alternative. Unlike traditional implants, it required no additional bone augmentation, minimizing surgical complexity and reducing healing time by approximately 75%. This streamlined approach not only alleviated trauma for the patient but also showcased the synergy of advanced design and material science.Successful Implementation and Clinical ValidationLed by DDr. Christoph Staudigl, the surgical procedure marked the world's first compassionate use case of a ceramic subperiosteal jaw implant. Despite initial challenges in wound healing, the superior soft tissue compatibility of zirconia demonstrated remarkable efficacy compared to titanium, as affirmed by project partners.Collaborative Innovation and Future ProspectsThe implant's design, pioneered by the Centre for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at the Medical University of Vienna in collaboration with DDr. Staudigl, benefited significantly from contributions by BTI Biotechnology Institute and BioMed Centre Innovation GmbH. Moving forward, BioMed Centre spin-off Agensmed GmbH plans to patent and commercialize the implant as a medical device, utilizing Lithoz's advanced 3D printing capabilities. A forthcoming clinical trial aims to further validate its efficacy and expand its application.ConclusionThis pioneering achievement not only represents a significant leap forward in dental implant technology but also underscores the transformative potential of 3D printing in personalized healthcare solutions. By addressing the complexities of atrophic jaws with innovative materials and techniques, researchers and clinicians are paving the way for enhanced patient care and improved quality of life for elderly populations worldwide.

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