In Memoriam: Dr. Leonard Linkow, 1926-2017

Dentistry Today


Leonard Linkow, DDS, considered by many to be the “Father of Implant Dentistry,” died on January 26, 2017, at the age of 90. He served as president of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) in 1974 and was an Honored Fellow of the AAID. Also, he was a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology, serving as its president in 1993. 

“Dr. Linkow was a true pioneer of modern day implant dentistry,” said Dr. Michael Tischler, implant editor for Dentistry Today. “His early work with blade implants set the path for the implant success we now see with all types of dental implants. As someone I knew personally, and have observed performing surgery, I have and have had deep respect for him as a person and a clinician.”

Linkow’s dental career began in 1952 after graduating from the New York University College of Dentistry, placing his first implant 4 months later. In more than 50 years of practice, he treated more than 100,000 patients. A prolific author, he published 22 books and wrote more than 100 clinical articles. He also held 36 patents in dental implants.

For example, in 1984, he developed the mandibular tripodal subperiosteal implant, indicated for edentulous patients with advanced mandibular atrophy who cannot be successfully treated by conventional root form implants without significant prior bone grafting and reconstruction. Linkow also was the first dentist to use titanium blade implants. 

“Len was attacked, ostracized, and defamed by the profession for many years,” said Sheldon Winkler, DDS, executive director of the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontics and one of Dentistry Today’s Leaders in Continuing Education “Others would have given up hope, but not Len. He continued presenting lectures and continuing education courses throughout the world whenever and wherever he was invited, often receiving no honoraria and at his own expense.”

The AAID Foundation honored Linkow with the Isaih Lew Memorial Research Award in 1990, and the AAID saluted him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. He received the Aaron Gershkoff/Norman Goldberg Award in 1974, and 6 institutes have been named after him. And, Linkow is the only dentist ever to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

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