On Saturday December 20, 2014 we lost one of the most influential individuals in the history of dentistry. Per-Ingvar Brånemark. Born May 3, 1929, Dr. Branemark was a Swedish orthopedic surgeon and research professor, often referred to as as the "father of modern dental implantology." Later, the Branemark Osseointegration Center (BOC), was founded in 1989 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Dr. Branemark founded osseointegration serendipitously through a study being performed to determine best protocols for drilling bone. He was drilling sites in rabbits and placing a titanium optical chamber in the leg. Later, observing bone regeneration over time through microscopic examination through the titanium optic chamber, he discovered the optical chambers were not retrievable. Hence, osseointegration had occurred and been discovered. Most dental professionals have no idea that this finding took place in 1952 when Branemark was just 23 years old. In 1982 Dr. Branemark introduced the Branemark implant system to the world. Along with Nobelpharma the system became the first highly successful dental implant know to dentistry.
The earliest attempts at dental implant tooth replacements on record were discovered in the Mayan civilization dating back to 600 A.D. Archaeologists have recovered ancient skulls in which teeth were replaced by materials ranging from carved stones, such as jade, to fragments of seashells. So, Dr. Branemark was not the first to demonstrate the desire or need for dental implants, he was however, the founder of what had become the first truly predictable solution for implants and tooth replacement. This has resulted in a life changing experience for millions of people.
For all of us that have been involved in dentistry for any significant period of time, Dr. Branemark’s discovery and subsequent inventions have had a profound impact on our profession. So many of us have played a significant role in Dr. Branemark’s dream. In my opinion, this has been the greatest discovery in dentistry in our times. There is no question we will miss this brilliant human being. It is with great sorrow to see his passing. It’s not often someone of his motivation and brilliance walks this planet. He will be missed by many. May he rest in peace.