Prof. Dr. Andreas Schwitalla is involved in the further development of digital implant planning and the navigated implantology based on it. The specialist dentist for oral surgery has held the professorship for "Digital Implantology" at the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin since December 2021.
Schwitalla is a native of Tübingen, Germany, passed his state examination in dentistry at the University of Tübingen and subsequently earned his doctorate there as well. This was followed by his habilitation at the Charité in Berlin and further training in oral surgery at the University Hospital in Zurich as well as in private practice and at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Charité.
Today, his research focuses on implantology: "I find the combination of digital planning, surgery and subsequent prosthetic restoration particularly exciting, as well as the interface between implant material and the vital tissues of the oral cavity. There is still a lot of room for improvement in this area. Digitalized procedures can above all help to adapt implant restorations even better to the respective patients, which has a positive effect on their long-term prognosis," explains the ECDF professor. The materials used and their processing also play an important role here. Material savings can be realized primarily through 3D printing, which at the same time also allows for much more complex structures. "I am happy that at the ECDF I can work with colleagues who are experts in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, for example, to realize this."
In the context of navigated implantology, implants usually find their way into the jaw through a rather static process: a drill guide is inserted into the mouth, and the surgeon uses it to drill the hole for implant placement. "With my professorship, I would like to start at the interface between digital planning and physical implementation. The method of using drilling templates currently still offers many sources of error, so that there are still deviations between the planned nominal position and the actual position of the implant. A novel drilling principle, for example, could contribute to greater precision.
An ideal prosthetic restoration could also be achieved by using AI, Schwitalla believes. Currently, implant planning is still done manually on the computer, but he would like to change that: "I would also like to use my professorship to automate the implant planning process. Ideally, the AI will take over the planning and take into account the given patient parameters, such as chewing strength and bone quality, and then determine the optimal position for the implant."
Schwitalla also wants to use his research to investigate alternative, metal-free materials for implantology, as they may also enable better load transfer to the jawbone. Schwitalla already dealt with this research question during his habilitation: "For me, the combination of artificial material and biological bone is fascinating and what we can make possible with it: Toothless patients can regain full dentition and regain a large part of their quality of life.”