Innovator special feature: Professor Neil Meredith

Professor Neil Meredith, co-inventor of Resonance Frequency Analysis
Professor Neil Meredith, co-inventor of Resonance Frequency Analysis

Electronic engineering has been a passion for UK-born Neil Meredith his whole life. However, little did he know that with two PhDs, he would combine his passion with clinical research to invent a life-changing diagnostic technique. Designed to measure the stability and treatment outcome of dental implants, resonance frequency analysis (RFA) is now considered an international benchmark among implant specialists.

In 1993, Professor Meredith and his team at Imperial College in London developed a technique where a small electronic transducer, similar to a musical tuning fork, was attached to an implant. “If you strike a tuning fork, the resonance frequency depends on two factors: the length of the tuning fork and the stiffness with which you hold it,” he explains. “So we developed an electronic fork to fit an implant. It exactly measures the distance of the implant and the height of the bone and its stiffness. It’s non-invasive and the patient is unaware of the procedure.” To assess the technical viability of this clinical diagnostic technique, Professor Meredith received a $4 million grant from the European Commission to test the technology throughout Europe.

It proved to be a breakthrough in implantology. The first commercial sales of Osstell were in 1997 and its international success developed rapidly. “Initially the technology wasn’t designed to be a commercial instrument,” he recalls. “However, its efficacy and clinical benefits have made it the benchmark. Success can be attributed to a great team of engineers, physicists and designers. “ While the business boomed, Professor Meredith still continued to follow his passion for ‘bench to the bedside’—innovation and technology making a difference to patients. He founded the Neoss company and developed a new dental implant system in 2000.

“Many implant systems have thousands of different components, so we designed a new system that had less than 100, including instruments. It’s truly simple and flexible,” says Professor Meredith who was the CEO for eight years.

In 2011, he decided to make his biggest move of all—heading to Australia to be Professor of Prosthodontics and Dental Implantology at the University of Queensland School of Dentistry. He is also working on another technological development in the dental field. “There appears to be an increasingly common problem around implants called peri-implantitis, causing bone loss five-to-10 years after placement. This can cause failure of the implants and needs treatment. I’m developing a technology-based solution to treat the implant surface.” And he’s spending a lot of time refining this game-changing technology to make it perfect. 

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