Innovative Technique Helps Expand Dentist’s Broad Impact
Shatkin F.I.R.S.T.® Fix on Six™ makes full-arch prosthetics more accessible
Todd Shatkin, DDS
Todd Shatkin, DDS, had all but given up hope of obtaining a patent for his Fix on Six™ technique. He had submitted his process of utilizing a detachable full-arch "roundhouse" bridge on 6 to 10 mini dental implants to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2014, and although patents are not issued immediately, 8 years is more than twice the typical wait time. One day this past March, however, the office called to notify Shatkin that the application had been mistakenly overlooked and that a new officer was now fast-tracking it. "They said that they were terribly sorry that our patent got stuck on someone's desk," Shatkin says. "The new officer got it done for us, and now we have a patent."
Of course, the patent is merely legal protection for a process that Shatkin has already been utilizing for many years at his private practice, Shatkin Dental Health, and his mini dental implant laboratory, Shatkin F.I.R.S.T.®, both of which are in in Amherst, New York. "The conventional full-arch implant concept involves placing four implants and attaching a fixed roundhouse bridge, but we do it with 6 to 10 mini implants, and we use a zirconia fixed bridge," Shatkin says. "We retain it with o-ring housings so it can be easily detached from the patient's mouth during checkups and cleanings. It is one of our biggest sellers. The ability to provide a minimally invasive treatment like this, placing 6 to 10 mini implants in 30 to 40 minutes and then putting a permanent restoration in the patient's mouth a couple of weeks later, is a really great thing."
The mini dental implants, which range in diameter from 2 mm to 4.75 mm and are typically 10 mm to 18 mm in length, are placed with the patented F.I.R.S.T. (Fabricated Implant Restorations and Surgical Technique) procedure to provide an alternative solution for patients who suffer from loose dentures or missing teeth. During the course of 2 decades, Shatkin has placed more than 35,000 mini implants. "Not only am I using mini implants every day, but tooth No. 15 in my own mouth is restored with two mini implants," he says. "My wife has six mini implants in her mouth. My parents, may they rest in peace, both had mini implants as well. I have a lot of confidence in them."
The idea for the Fix on Six technique arose from a case in Shatkin's practice. "It happened almost by accident," he says. "Normally, we cement our roundhouse bridges on 10 to 12 mini implants, but I was making a temporary roundhouse for a patient and decided to use o-ring attachments to retain it instead because I thought it would be easier to remove. It worked very well, and I thought, ‘Wow, we could do this with permanent restorations.'"
According to Shatkin, his private practice is the source of some of his best ideas, which is part of the reason why he still handles a full caseload of patients each week despite also overseeing Shatkin F.I.R.S.T. and lecturing around the world, among other engagements. "I never want to quit practicing because I love doing dentistry," he says. "I am particularly excited right now because my son Jared is graduating from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and will be joining me in July."
This year, Jared will be one of four residents in the Shatkin Dental Health community-based Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) Program at NYU Langone Dental Medicine. Shatkin has supported the program for several years, and he also recently announced a partnership with Daemen University in Amherst to form the Shatkin College of Dentistry. "We really love educating the future dentists of America," he says.
The new college is targeting an August 2023 opening, pending accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and approval by the New York State Education Department. They plan to enroll 40 students per year. "We need to teach them everything that they need for their DDS," Shatkin says, "but the program will definitely be more robust in terms of implant dentistry than that of the average dental school."
Balancing all of these endeavors may seem impossible, but Shatkin has help. "The No. 1 thing is surrounding yourself with a wonderful team, and then you need to trust and delegate," he says. "At my practice and my companies, we have amazing individuals. We have about 65 employees who all work hard to support our ventures."
Shatkin says he does it all because he wants to have a positive impact on patient care through his own practice as well as others around the country. The Fix on Six technique, for example, makes prosthodontic treatment more accessible for a wider range of people. "So many millions of Americans suffer from loose or ill-fitting dentures," Shatkin says. "They are embarrassed to smile or speak in public, and they cannot eat the foods that they enjoy. Putting a full compliment of permanent teeth in their mouths gives them a new lease on life because they can function like people who have their natural dentition again."
• Fix on Six restorations are individually milled from a concentrated zirconia puck to provide the highest quality restorations on the market.
• The housings and o-rings are put into the zirconia restoration using proprietary Shatkin F.I.R.S.T. self-cure resin cement.
• According to Shatkin F.I.R.S.T., the Fix on Six restoration provides a better solution than All-on-4® for roughly half of the price.
• To get started with Fix on Six, simply send a VPS impression and a panoramic radiograph or CBCT scan to the Shatkin F.I.R.S.T. laboratory for a free case evaluation by Todd Shatkin, DDS.