A tribute to Dr Leonard I. Linkow: A guiding light
NEW YORK CITY: It is said that America became great because of the ability of Americans to think creatively or, as the expression is used, outside of the box. Dr Leonard Linkow is such a man, and he has had a tremendous effect on the field of dentistry and the quality of oral care afforded to patients.
Linkow forged through battles of existing stagnation, adversity and legal precipices to achieve the correct utilization of implants.
In the ’60s, Linkow designed the blade implant to avoid removable prostheses, and at about the same time he patented designs for the root form implants that are used today. Even in the ’60s, he had the foresight to utilize titanium in his implants.
Although throughout the world Linkow is considered the “father of oral implantology” and even has a street named after him in Germany, he never claimed to have invented implants. In fact, he always gave credit to the Egyptians for such an invention, and he never failed to thank those who helped him along the way, such as Dr Cherchev from France, one of his earlier motivators.
What has made Linkow so outstanding is his passion and undeniable belief in the success of implants, along with his willingness to share. In the late ’60s, just as the Beatles came to the United States, Linkow was spending a lot of his time lecturing throughout the world. Lugging the requisite boxes of slides, he would spend hours sharing with dentists all around the globe his ideas about the restoration of debilitated mouths.
No matter whether in Germany, France, Russia, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Peru, Argentina, Canada, India, Japan or the Philippines, he energetically shared his knowledge with all.
While Linkow was practicing dentistry full time in New York City, he found the time to write 17 books on the subject. He graciously included me among the leaders in implantology noted in one of his books.
Linkow was also a clinical professor at four universities: New York University (NYU), Temple University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, Lille University of France.
In addition, Linkow was one of the three founding fathers of the first esthetic dental society, and he helped create the American Society of Dental Esthetics, along with Dr Irwin Smigel. He has the endowed chair in implantology at NYU, in perpetuity, known as the Linkow Chair.
Some years ago, Len and I were presenting lectures on the road and taking questions from the podium. At that time I was the first periodontist to place implants in the United States and an officer of the only organized implant academy at the time.
Someone in the audience asked a derisive question, trying to divide our positions. In response, Len placed his hand on my shoulder and stated firmly: “David and I are a team and work together.”
Linkow is a visionary with a wonderful imagination. He continues to present his vision of successful utilization of implants around the world. Foremost in his passion is his love for his family, his daughters, his grandchildren and his friends.
Among his enduring strengths is his belief in the success of converting an orally debilitated mouth to a natural functioning rehabilitated one through implants.
Just as Len’s hand was always on my shoulder, I can only hope the same for all those in the dental field involved in implants, and the millions of patients who have and will receive the benefit of implants. May his hand be on your shoulder, too.