The following is taken from my website www.dentalimplantsaustralia.com on the history of dental implants.
From the 1950’s, research was being conducted at Cambridge University in the UK to study blood flow in live rabbits. Researchers devised a titanium-glass chamber that was embedded into the soft tissue of rabbit ears. In 1952 the Swedish orthopaedic surgeon, Per-Ingar Brånemark used the same ‘rabbit ear chamber’ device to study bone healing and regeneration using rabbit femur bone. Following several months of study he attempted to retrieve these expensive titanium chambers from bone and found that he was unable to remove them. Dr Brånemark observed that the bone had essentially fused with the titanium surface of the chambers. Interested in this observation, Brånemark inserted titanium objects into both animal and human subjects, and his experiments confirmed the bone-fusing property of titanium and in particular for it’s surface “titanium oxide”; a phenomenon he came to describe as “osseointegration”.Although Brånemark had originally envisioned that his surgery would have primary applicability to knee and hip surgery, he found that the mouth and the jaws were more accessible for continued clinical experimentation.In 1965, Brånemark, now a Professor of Anatomy at Gothenburg University in Sweden, placed his first titanium dental implant into a human volunteer, Gosta Larsson, who had a cleft palate defect, and in turn required some form of radical retention to hold an upper denture. Gosta Larrson eventually died in 2005 with the original dental implants still in place, 40 years after her surgery.From 1965 to 1978 Brånemark published many studies on the use of titanium in dental implantology before he entered into a commercial partnership with the Swedish defense company, Bofors AB for the development and marketing of his Brånemark dental implant system. Bofors was later to become Nobel Industries, & which formed Nobelpharma AB in 1981. This company in turn was to become the modern day Nobel Biocare, now the largest dental implant manufacturer in the world.Since his initial research, Brånemark fought to gain wide scientific acceptance of osseointegration and dental implants as a viable treatment concept for missing teeth. Even in his native Sweden, he was often openly ridiculed at scientific conferences. Even his university stopped funding his research, forcing him to open a private clinic to continue the dental treatment of patients by dental implants.Eventually an emerging breed of young academics started to notice the work being performed by Brånemark and his co-researchers. Toronto's Professor Zarb, a Maltese dentist working in Canada, was instrumental in bringing Brånemark ‘s concept of osseointegration to the wider dental world.There were also other pioneers in implant dentistry, who were doing their own independent research and analyzing the effects of bone-compatible materials, including titanium, sapphire, and zirconia.Dr. Leonard Linkow placed his first dental implant in 1952, four months after he graduated from dental school. By 1992, Dr. Linkow had placed over 19,000 dental implants and stopped counting. He retired from private practice in 2002 leaving a body of work that included 12 books and 36 patents. Many implant dentists refer to Dr. Linkow as the father of modern implant dentistry.Meanwhile an Italian medical doctor called Stefano Melchiade Tramonte, knew that titanium could be used for dental restorations and after designing a titanium screw to support his own dental prosthesis, started to use it on many patients in his clinic in 1959. His clinical studies on humans were published in 1966.Contemporaneous independent research in the United States by Stevens and Alexander led to a 1969 US patent filing for titanium dental implants.The 1983 Toronto Conference is generally considered to be the turning point, when finally the worldwide scientific community accepted Brånemark's and the work of other dental implant pioneers.But since 1978, it was the Brånemark Dental Implant System that revolutionized clinical dentistry world-wide, making osseointegration a highly predictable and commonplace treatment modality. Over 7 million Brånemark units having been placed up to 2010, and there are hundreds more companies producing an extensive range of dental implants founded on Brånemark’s original screw shape design, and for a far more extended range of dental clinical use.Some current research in dental implantology is focusing on the use of ceramic materials such as zirconia (ZrO2) in the manufacture of dental implants. Zirconia is the dioxide of zirconium, a metal close to titanium in the periodic table and with similar biocompatibility properties. Although generally the same shape as titanium implants, zirconia, which has been used successfully for orthopaedic surgery for a number of years, has the advantage of being more cosmetically aesthetic owing to its bright tooth-like colour. However, long-term clinical data is necessary before one-piece ZrO2 implants can be recommended for daily practice.Dental implants have wide application in areas that expand away from simple dental restorative purposes. They can be used as orthodontic anchorage points, and for retention of missing facial structures such as cheek bones, noses, or eyes.
Paul Coceancig @ Profilo Australia
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