Last year we saw the passing of one of the great pioneers in dental care, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark. His research and innovations were not only a great service to dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and the progression of dental research, but these innovations have blossomed to wonderful treatments that have improved the lives of millions of patients. Throughout his career, it was the well being of patients and appropriate patient care that motivated him and guided his protocols. In his own words, his work was, “to bring basic science and biology to improving the quality of life of human beings.”

A Titanium Pioneer

I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Branemark several times during my career. He was an unassuming, humble man who took the time to make all of his admirers feel important. It was his study on the relationship of titanium and its response in bone that has led to countless offshoots in all areas of medicine. Most all implants placed in the body now utilize the titanium technology. The fact that bone grows up to and engages tightly to the surface of titanium enables us to support everything from a tooth to a hip joint.

Invaluable Research

Dr. Branemark carried out a decades-long journey with continuous research which included the placement of the first titanium dental implant in 1965. Widespread acceptance of this treatment took place in the early 1980s. In 1984 the program that I was associated with became one of the first in this country to be placing dental implants and helped validate this research to a skeptical dental community and public. Dr. Branemark always stressed the importance of widely available implant therapy to “reach as many patients as possible by having simple, safe procedures.” One of his famous lines was that “no one should die with their teeth in a glass of water.” Thanks to his efforts, implant treatment today continues to grow and advance. I am indebted and grateful to him for his life of service and research.