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The custom dental implant extension helps support a dental prosthesis in a patient's mouth to allow her to eat solid foods and to improve her quality of life.

Project Background

In early 2015, while employed at Southern Implants, I worked with doctors at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg to design and manufacture a custom dental implant extension to help support a dental prosthesis in a patient's mouth. 


The unique form of the device required that additive manufacturing was used in the design and manufacture, a first for our company.

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Patient Background

The patient was treated to remove a cancerous tumour from the top of her mouth. This resulted in the bone from most of the top of her mouth being removed, including her top teeth.

Four dental implants were implanted into her cheek bones in the top of her mouth. These implants are used to support a dental prosthesis via screws that secure the prosthesis onto the threaded holes on the heads of the implants.

Unfortunately one implant had to have its head cut off because its malpositioning in the patient's mouth caused it to rub against her left lip, resulting in a wound forming. I then needed to design a custom extension for this trimmed implant so we could still use it.

User Needs

The custom extension needs to:

  • attach to the part of the implant remaining in the patient's mouth

  • attach to a dental prosthesis with a screw

  • be shaped so that it doesn't protrude into the patient's lip

  • be easily cleaned by the patient

  • be rigid and strong

Designing a Solution

Concept Sketching and Modelling
Testing and Manufacture

After prototyping the design, by 3D printing it in plastic, the final design was grown in titanium in a laser sintering process, CT scanned for defects, annealed to harden, polished to make easy to clean, and then the connection interfaces were finally machined onto it.

Final Product

I was fortunate enough to attend the surgery and it was incredible to see the final part slip into place just as planned. The dental prosthesis was attached and we were able to help give the patient back her smile.

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