Dentist Glen meets implant inventor Professor Branemark

Here is the first in a series of blog posts composed by our dental colleague Glen Frew.

As you’ll read from this intro Glen has amassed great experience in the field of dental implant surgery, which he carries out at our Glasgow dental clinic.

Here Glen turns the clock back to focus on what became a significant chance meeting…

Dentist Glen Frew

Dentist Glen Frew

1992 – a wet, windy morning in Dublin and I am stood waiting in a queue for a taxi to the Conference Centre.

In front of me an older chap’s umbrella was blown inside out and, in his attempts to rectify matters, he dropped a folder sending papers fluttering into puddles along O’Connell Street.

We chased them down and, in doing so, I cannot help but notice that the headings on the sheets were the same as on the Information Pack in my briefcase.

“Are you going the Osseointegration Conference?”, I enquired.
” Thank you, yes – are you?”, he said, in a Scandinavian accent.

Professor Branemark - the 'father' of modern day implant surgery. (Image: www.branemark.com)

Professor Branemark – the ‘father’ of modern day implant surgery. (Image: www.branemark.com)

He wore a large floppy bowtie that reminded me of Gepetto, Pinocchio’s father in the Disney film.

“Yes, let’s go!”, and we both clambered into a cab.

He told me he was from Sweden and was doing a presentation at the Conference.

He seemed more interested in examining the spokes in my undamaged umbrella and comparing them with the twisted wires in his own mangled parasol. I explained that mine was stronger as it had been designed to withstand the blasts of Scottish golf and we laughed.

I introduced myself and we shook hands.

“I am Per-Ingvar Branemark” he smiled, alighting at our destination.

Half an hour later he was quietly addressing a thousand delegates, who listened in respectful silence as the great man described his experiment 40 years previously, when he had planted a tiny titanium instrument in a rabbit’s broken leg to monitor the healing process.

When he went in months later to retrieve the instrument it had become enveloped in bone and could only be removed with great difficulty.

And so, by pure accident (like the landmark discoveries of penicillin,insulin and x rays) Branemark learned that bone fuses to titanium without any reaction leading to rejection – this discovery opening new frontiers in orthopaedic surgery and dentistry in particular.

More than 3 million dental implants will be placed worldwide in 2013, with success rates at 95% or higher over 10 years.

Dental implants play a crucial part in the restorative treatments we offer at our dental clinic in Hyndland, Glasgow – with inestimable benefit to so many patients.

I wonder if the spokes in my brolly were titanium?

Should you have any queries about this blog or would like to find out more information about dental implants and the other treatments we offer please contact us via the website by clicking here or by calling 0141 339 7579.