Many patients experience bone loss in the jaw associated with periodontal disease or other factors. In my long career, one of the things I enjoy reflecting on most is being one of the pioneers in bone growth research when the profession was just starting to learn how to replace missing bone.
My involvement in bone growth research was through my association with the University of Pennsylvania, where I taught, and some academicians who came to the University of Pennsylvania from Sweden for scholarly and research purposes. These researchers had begun developing bone growth techniques, and with my dental patients, I was performing beta testing on some of their products that were critical to growing bone.
Having worked with the materials for growing bone where teeth were present, I had some ideas about how to grow bone where teeth were missing and where bone loss had begun. I was motivated to find a solution for patients because in some patients there was not enough bone present to place dental implants. For dental implant treatment to succeed, there was often a need to build bone volume. We set up a proper trial with my patients who did not have teeth, and the results were that bone grew where the only inadequate bone had previously existed.
That success was the birth of a whole area of dental bone growth research that academic dentistry has been working on and further developing for the past 30 years. It was a very exciting time in my career and in the history of dentistry. We learned how to grow bone predictably, and the techniques we helped develop have contributed to growing bone not only for dental purposes but for other medical purposes as well.
Now, patients all over the world have bone augmentation procedures to make them candidates for dental implants and other purposes. It is very satisfying for me to know that I was on the forefront of those breakthroughs and continuing research.
Dr. Karl A. Rose
Chevy Chase, MD