National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Zuga Medical, Inc.

January 31, 2013

Company Info:

Zuga Medical, Inc., is located in Cleveland, Ohio’s Health-Tech Corridor. The company designs, manufactures and markets innovative dental implant systems. Zuga Medical is planning to bring to market a new implant and abutment system, the Zuga In-Oral Modifiable Dental Implant Abutment, which will enable dental professionals to reduce chair time, eliminate some outsourced patient and laboratory services, and allow general dentists to perform the complete patient services with fewer visits.

Zuga Medical makes a dental implant system that is simple enough for a dentist to install in their patient’s mouth, eliminating the need to see a specialist. Six years in development, the product is in its “soft launch” phase, and the feedback so far has been positive.
Credit: Matthew Ginn, Photographer
www.MatthewGinn.com

Challenge:

Working with Dr. Chan Wang, the inventor of the new technique, which utilizes titanium screws and a modifiable abutment, it was recognized that Zuga needed to choose a material for the abutment that was not too hard (e.g. ceramics used in dental crowns), not too soft (e.g. polymers used for dental fillings), and biocompatible. It also had to meet minimum FDA requirements for compression and fatigue testing, while being easy for the dentist to modify using their drill system to shape the material while in the patient’s mouth.

Solution:

It was desirable to determine an optimal material for the new process. The requirements included a material that would be used in the environment of a human mouth and an understanding of the level of pressure that would be placed on this material once it was inserted. It also had to be a material that would allow the dentist to use current tools available in a dentist’s office as well as have a color palate that would match a person’s teeth. Zuga had pre-screened a number of materials, but had not found one that was able to meet all the requirements. A team comprised of NASA Chemical, Ceramic and Materials & Structures Subject Matter Experts conducted an analysis of alternative polymeric and ceramic materials to identify leading candidate abutment materials. Zuga chose a high temperature polymer matrix resin (RTM370) developed at NASA GRC as a viable candidate. Further mechanical testing is ongoing.

Benefits:

NASA and Zuga Medical worked together to define a material that would meet the requirements for the implant. Zuga’s technology simplifies the entire implant procedure, frees the patient to spend less time in the dentist office, and reduces or eliminates outsourced patient and laboratory services. Zuga Medical has entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA to do some further impact testing. Zuga Medical is working to improve this process and introduce it to the Cleveland Dental Market. After some continued testing, it is the expectation that Zuga Medical will grow revenue as well as employment as a result of the work that was accomplished by NASA and Zuga Medical, Inc.