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ADA News Convention Daily

Gold Medal fellow pursues multifaceted research

Shaoping Zhang, Ph.D., focuses on dental implant placement outcomes

October 20, 2017

By Michelle Manchir


Dr. Zhang
Dentists may get some clarity regarding precise dental implant placement, ridge preservation and mucosal soft tissue healing thanks to research the inaugural ADA Gold Medal Fellow is doing.

Since receiving the Gold Medal Fellowship in 2016, which includes funding for two years and is co-sponsored by the ADA and Arm & Hammer with the goal of reaching, inspiring and mentoring the next generation of Gold Medal Award researchers, Shaoping Zhang, Ph.D., said he has made significant progress on his research.

"Several biological and technical challenges are present for dental implantation," said Dr. Zhang, a graduate of the University of North Carolina's oral biology program and its periodontal residency program. "This clinical research study seeks to address those knowledge gaps."  

The award has helped considerably in covering costs for needed materials and reagents for the project, he said.

"The fellowship will continue to cover the costs of histological and biological analyses upon completion of the clinical portion of this project," said Dr. Zhang.

His project is multifaceted, exploring how to maximize ridge preservation and enhance overall wound healing following tooth extraction to improve upon dental implant outcomes. He is currently involved in the conduct of a randomized clinical trial comparing outcomes when one of two commercially available collagen products are used following extraction in conjunction with xenograft bone substitute.

The project involves the use of cone beam computed tomography to obtain measures of hard tissue volume prior to extraction, used for extraction planning. Cone beam computed tomography will then be used at six months for volumetric measures and appropriate implant treatment planning. After the conventional six-month health period, subjects in both groups will have biopsy samples taken for analysis and receive a dental implant guided by a digital surgical guide, Dr. Zhang said.

Prior to and following extraction and implant placement, study subjects will have intra-oral scans to obtain soft tissue volumetric measures.

The data from hard tissue and soft tissue will be used to analyze the positional deviations in digitally guided implant placement.

Dr. Zhang is expected to present his research at ADA 2018 – America's Dental Meeting in Honolulu.

The fellowship Dr. Zhang earned is named after the Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research, which the ADA bestows every three years to honor individuals who contribute to the advancement of the dental profession or who help improve the oral health of the community through basic or clinical research.

Dr. Steven Offenbacher, the 2015 recipient of the Gold Medal Award, chose Dr. Zhang, telling ADA News at the time that Dr. Zhang is a "highly motivated and capable individual who is committed to advancing the field of periodontics through clinical and fundamental research as well as patient care. He is a young rising star in our profession and this award will help him gain early independence in his research career."