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Inside Dentistry
April 2012
Volume 8, Issue 4

Pioneers of Dental Implantology

These seven visionaries helped change a fledgling field into one of the fastest-growing aspects of clinical dentistry.

By Lisa Neuman

There are some names that are synonymous with the science of dental implants. Each of these individuals has been—and all continue to be—instrumental in revolutionizing this clinical modality. Over the last six decades, their collective contributions to the body of research as well as their technological and biological innovations helped lead to the widespread recognition and acceptance of dental implants as a viable, predictable treatment modality that meets an evolving standard of care for both partially and fully edentulous patients. Here, we present just a snapshot of some of those industry- and profession-changing accomplishments.

Per-Ingvar Brånemark, MD, PhD

Dr. Brånemark serendipitously discovered in 1952 that, contrary to then-contemporary scientific theory, the bone-anchored titanium microscopes he used in his Swedish university laboratory research had irreversibly bonded to the living bone tissue of rabbit femurs after a period of healing, making recovery of the microscopes impossible. He went on to famously demonstrate that titanium could be structurally integrated into living bone with a high degree of predictability and without long-term soft-tissue inflammation or fixture rejection. The first practical application of this phenomenon, which Dr. Brånemark called “osseointegration,” came in 1965 when new titanium “roots” were implanted in an edentulous patient with a cleft-palate defect. When the patient passed away in 2005, the non-removable teeth attached to these implants were still in place and functional.

Ronald A. Bulard, DDS

A clinician, researcher, inventor, and entrepreneur, Dr. Bulard created a new implant system in 1986, and four years later co-founded IMTEC Corporation (which merged with 3M ESPE in 2008). After meeting Dr. Victor Sendax at the New York City office building in which they both had practices, Dr. Bulard modified the Sendax MDI design to include the “O-ball” concept, resulting in the granting of one of the seven US patents he holds in the field of dentistry. In 2011 he was appointed the CEO and president of Park Dental Research, succeeding its founder, Mr. Jack Wimmer.

Leonard I. Linkow, DDS, DMSc

The first and only endowed chair in implantology at the New York University College of Dentistry (which bears his name in perpetuity), Dr. Linkow has published 18 books, authored more than 100 clinical articles, and has three institutes named after him, including The Linkow International Institute of Oral Implantology in Bari, Italy; The Linkow International Institute of Oral Implantology in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Linkow Implant Institute-Caribbean in Kingston, Jamaica. He holds 36 US patents in dental implants. In 50+ years of practice, Dr. Linkow has treated more than 100,000 patients. He was one of the three founding fathers of the first esthetic dental society, and he helped create the American Society of Dental Esthetics.

Carl E. Misch, DDS, MDS

In 1984, Dr. Misch founded the Misch International Implant Institute™ (MIII), and as its director he has trained more than 3,500 dentists in implant dentistry. Dr. Misch has more than ten US patents related to implant dentistry and is co-inventor of the BioHorizons® Maestro™ Dental Implant System. He holds twelve fellowships, including the American College of Dentists, International College of Dentists, Royal Society of Medicine, American Association of Hospital Dentistry, and the Academy of Dentistry International. He has also served as president of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, American Academy of Implant Dentistry, Academy of Implants and Transplants, and the American College of Oral Implantologists. Dr. Misch has written three editions of Contemporary Implant Dentistry, published over 250 articles, and has lectured in every state in the United States as well as in 47 countries.

Gerald A. Niznick, DMD, MSD

Dr. Niznick has had 35 US patents issued to him for dental implants, including the internal connection patent that has become a cornerstone of modern implant design. He is a past recipient of the Isaiah Lew Memorial Research Award, and in 2007 was awarded the Achievement Medal, the highest award conferred by the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity. He has also been recognized with a Commendation by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the conception and funding of the largest prospective, multi-center clinical study worldwide on dental implants that was conducted at 32 VA Centers and included 900 patients receiving more than 2,800 of his implants. Dr. Niznick founded Implant Direct in 2004, and is now the president of Implant Direct Sybron.

Victor Sendax, DDS

Dr. Sendax is the latest recipient of the Isaiah Lew Memorial Research Award, which is presented by the American Academy of Implant Dentistry to an individual who has contributed significantly to research in implant dentistry. He is the senior attending general dentist/oral implantologist at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital in the Department of Otolaryngology. A Diplomate and past president of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry, Dr. Sendax is also past president of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, which has afforded him Honored Fellow status. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (Great Britain) and was the first director of the Implant Prosthodontics Resident Program at Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery. An inventor and holder of four US patents in dental implants, he created the IMTEC Sendax MDI Mini Dental Implant system.

Jack Wimmer

The founder and former president of Park Dental Research, one of the oldest dental implant and technology companies in the world, Mr. Wimmer is a highly respected and historically important dental industry figure. A Holocaust survivor, Mr. Wimmer began his career by practicing dentistry in Germany but moved to the United States to open the dental laboratory that would become the epicenter of the dental implant revolution in the 1950s and 1960s. He is considered one of the great pioneers of dental implants along with Drs. Gustov Dhal, Victor Sendax, Aaron Gershkoff, Norman Goldberg, Isaiah Lew, Leonard Linkow, Raphael Chercheve, Jack Lemmons, Norman Cranin, Carl Misch, Charles Babbush, Kenneth Judy, Burton Balkin, Robert James, and Bob Baier. Today, Mr. Wimmer remains at Park Dental Research in an advisory role.

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