In ancient Egypt, missing teeth were sometimes replaced with carved seashells or pebbles anchored in the jawbone. Modern implant dentistry is a lot more sophisticated, but the basic idea is the same: placing an artificial root into the jawbone to hold a “crown,” or replacement tooth.
The two-part procedure begins with screwing a titanium “root” into the jawbone and waiting three to six months until the bone grows firmly around it. A cap is placed on top of the implant to help the gum heal, and then it’s replaced with another cap in which the crown is connected to the implant.
The Israeli company Magdent says its revolutionary device built into the cap makes the bone grow three times faster by transmitting an electromagnetic field into the implant and the surrounding bone graft.
Electromagnetic fields have long been used by orthopedists to heal complicated bone fractures because they encourage the creation of bone-building cells. Magdent scaled the technology down to size for dental use, and also proved in animal studies that their device causes the bone to grow more densely than usual. This is significant for the many people who are risky dental implant candidates because of poor bone quality.
Newly on the market in Europe, and patented in the United States and Europe, the device is being mass-produced in Tiberias and will be submitted for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval next year.
“Ours is the first innovation that lets the doctor actively influence the healing process,” Magdent COO Elad Yakobson told Israel21C. “The [device] creates an electromagnetic stimulation from microelectronics inside the healing abutment. The doctor uses the same treatment protocols; there’s no learning curve.”
In addition to shortening the healing process by two-thirds and improving the quality of the bone by about 40 percent, Magdent’s device may prove helpful in preventing or treating peri-implantitis, an infection that can occur around the dental implant even a few years after the procedure.
“Electromagnetic stimulation helps kill bacteria, so we are investigating how it might help treat peri-implantitis,” says Yakobson. “Currently, there isn’t really a cure. The dentist has to open the gum and treat the infection with antibiotics.”
The company was founded in 2011 by Dr. Shlomo Barak, who also founded Israel’s Maccabident chain of dental clinics and headed the Mouth and Jaw Institute at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera.
In the late 1980s, a patient came to Barak with a jaw fracture. Radiation treatment for cancer had made her jawbone brittle and unable to hold the screws and plates normally used in jaw-repair surgery. Barak recalled hearing a lecture about using electromagnetic stimulation in orthopedics, and he contacted the manufacturer of the large machines used in this type of therapy. Sure enough, a nine-month course of treatment cured the patient, and Barak published a paper in The International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery about his unusual application of the concept.
“Dr. Barak knew that Israel is good at miniaturizing things, so he got the idea that this could be a good solution for implants,” says Yakobson.
He started the company in the Trendlines medical technology incubator with a modest grant from the Office of the Chief Scientist, finishing the incubator phase in 2014. The company recently raised another $800,000 for further development, marketing and sales, bringing its total financing to $1.9 million.
One immediate goal is making the device even smaller, as currently it can be used only to replace rear (molar) teeth.
The video embedded below illustrates how the MagDent implant works.
[Photo: Magdent Med / YouTube ]