I’ve just watched an interview with the Swedish professor now credited with inventing the medical technology that gave the world dental implants.
In his summation about the work of dentists and how the care of patients is so vitally important, Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark said: “No-one should die lying in the bed having their teeth in the glass.”
With the technology progressing over the 40 years that dentists have used implants to replace missing teeth today’s patient can have missing teeth replace not only to enhance the smile’s aesthetics but also to restore dental functionality.
The story of Branemark’s work is interesting…
In 1952, he conducted an experiment where he utilised a titanium implant chamber to study blood flow in rabbit bone. At the conclusion of the experiment, when it became time to remove the titanium chambers from the bone, he discovered that the bone had integrated so completely with the implant that the chamber could not be removed. Brånemark called the discovery “osseointegration,” and saw the possibilities for human use.
In dental medicine the implementation of osseointegration started in the mid-1960s as a result of the work of Professor Branemark.
In 1965 Brånemark, who was at the time Professor of Anatomy at the University of Gothenburg, placed dental implants into the first human patient – Gosta Larsson.
This patient had a cleft palate defect and required dental implants to support an obturator. Gosta Larrson died in 2005, with the original implants still in place after 40 years of function.
In the mid-1970s Brånemark entered into a commercial partnership with the Swedish company Bofors to manufacture dental implants and the instrumentation required for their placement. Eventually an offshoot of Bofors, Nobel Pharma, was created to concentrate on this product line. Nobel Pharma subsequently became Nobel Biocare (a company which supplies our clinic with implants and with which I’ve done a lot of research work).
Brånemark spent almost 30 years fighting the scientific community for acceptance of osseointegration as a viable treatment. In Sweden he was often openly ridiculed at scientific conferences. His university stopped funding for his research, forcing him to open a private clinic to continue the treatment of patients. Eventually an emerging breed of young academics started to notice the work being performed in Sweden. Toronto’s Professor Zarb, in particular, was instrumental in bringing the concept of osseointegration to the wider world. The 1983 Toronto Conference is generally considered to be the turning point, when finally the worldwide scientific community accepted Brånemark’s work. Today osseointegration is a highly predictable and commonplace treatment.
Please contact us here at the clinic if you’d like to find out more about dental implants and how they could work for you.