Dr. Branemark, an orthopedic surgeon and research professor, was studying how blood flow affects bone healing and implanted titanium into the feet of rabbits. When he discovered he couldn’t remove the titanium because it integrated with the bone, he realized titanium could anchor artificial teeth. This accidental discovery took years to market because it was the belief that anything foreign in the body would lead to inflammation and eventually be rejected.
Dr. Branemark’s first titanium dental implant patient, in the mid-1960s, was a man with a cleft palate, jaw deformities and no teeth in his lower jaw. The operation giving him four titanium implants lasted forty years until his death.
Dr. Branemark died a few months ago at age 85.
Branemark disliked the word ‘implant.’ He preferred ‘fixtures.’ When I talk about the success of my dental implants in my radiated jaw, I’m always careful to preface the word ‘implants‘ with the word ‘dental’ so there is no misunderstanding.