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‘Father of modern dental traumatology' dies at 85

Dr. Jens Ove Andreasen granted ADA honorary membership in 2016

October 01, 2020

By David Burger

 Dr. Andreasen
Dr. Andreasen

Copenhagen — Dr. Jens Ove Andreasen, whose colleagues called him the father of modern dental traumatology and whose contributions to dentistry led him to receive honorary membership in the ADA, died Sept. 26 at the age of 85 in Denmark.

Dr. Martha Ann Keels, a member of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, said that Dr. Andreasen was a “giant in dental traumatology.”

President of the International Association of Dental Traumatology from 1989-2001, Dr. Andreasen received his dental degree from the Royal Dental College in Copenhagen in 1959, doing his postgraduate training in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University Hospital in Copenhagen, where he later served on the faculty.

He authored 350 published articles and 11 textbooks, covering topics such as dental traumatology, tooth replantation and autotransplantation, tooth eruption and tooth impaction. Dr. Andreasen held four honorary doctorates and had been a lecturer in 48 countries.

Earlier in September, Dr. Andreasen wrote a “last greeting” for the online Dental Trauma Guide, a Danish nonprofit evidence-based platform he cofounded in 2008:

“I [started] my career in trauma treatment in 1963, [six] years earlier than the first human being on the moon. Fifty-seven years later, I have seen all kind of changes in the world,” he wrote. “I am so thankful to have had such a long career … I arrived in [Danish hospital] Rigshospitalet as a 28-year-old intern. I had great teachers and I have had the opportunity to grow from trainee to mentor for so many dentist generations. I have seen many of you grow and contribute to dental traumatology. This year I just turned 85 years old, still working, still dreaming and feeling passion for dental trauma and its consequences in people’s [lives]. Dental trauma for me … is not restricted to the scientific side, it is also about human contact. A good and effective treatment in trauma has repercussions in the psyche of a patient. The saying [goes], Nobody knows what they have until it is gone. Tooth loss for trauma is something we can help with.”

The staff at the Dental Trauma Guide published a tribute to Dr. Andreasen in an email to readers.

“The team behind the Dental Trauma Guide is determined to continue his work and mission to spread knowledge about the treatment of dental trauma,” the email stated. “Few researchers and teachers in Dentistry have reached out the way Jens Ove Andreasen has done and we, who had the privilege of working closely together with him, were always impressed by his drive, high energy and passion. He was indeed one of a kind and a pioneer in his chosen field of dentistry.”

The International Association of Dental Traumatology issued a newsflash after learning of Dr. Andreasen’s death.

“Jens Andreasen is recognized as the father of modern dental traumatology and his passion, research and knowledge will be missed across the world,” according to the emailed newsflash. “The highest honour within IADT is to achieve the Jens Andreasen Lifetime Achievement Award for work completed on behalf of dental traumatology.”

Dr. Leif K. Bakland, past executive director of the International Association of Dental Traumatology, said that Dr. Andreasen was his colleague, mentor and friend.

“His concern for sharing dental trauma information from evidence-based research led to publications and what I call his gift to the world: The Dental Trauma Guide.”  

When Dr. Andreasen was named the recipient of ADA honorary membership in 2016, Dr. Asgeir Sigurdsson, associate professor and chair of endodontics at the NYU College of Dentistry, wrote in his nomination letter that Dr. Andreasen has educated several generations of dentists around the world.

"In my view, it is safe to say that Dr. Andreasen should be considered both father and grandfather of the discipline of dental trauma," he wrote. "I feel strongly that he more than deserves this recognition by ADA for his lifetime commitment to better understanding of how best to treat dental trauma."

In his last greeting, Dr. Andreasen had a simple request for fellow dentists and researchers.

“I would like to invite you to keep up with researching and giving the best treatment to the millions of new trauma patients each year,” he wrote. “That is the best gift you could give me.”

He is survived by his wife, Anna-Lena.