100 Anniversary Hans Peter Bimler
The work of Dr. med. Bimler (1916-2003) is interlaced with the century he lived in.
When the First World War 1914 – 1918 in Europe finally ended, the German military industry came practically to a stop, and the major heavy industry company Friedrich Krupp AG needed civilian customers and new markets. Just at the right time, they had developed the stainless steel. The dentist of the Friedrich Krupp AG clinic Dr. Friedrich Hauptmeyer used the steel successfully for the first time in prosthetics, and the company wanted to introduce it into the dental markets as a modern and economic replacement for the precious metals previously used. One of their best known and most successful products was called Wipla. 1925 the company Renfert was founded to help this objective. Soon, the new metal was also used in bands and arches in orthodontics. Wipla is a well known dental wire until today, so is Renfert. This provided the material for removable appliances.
This economic material for dentistry and orthodontics arrived at the right time for the changing world, as the social and political conditions had developed fast. The industrialization came along with a re-structuring of the society. Lower and middle classes gained political and economic importance. This was reflected in their health care needs, including for dental and orthodontic treatment. Thus, also the social environment for removables was ready.
Peter Bimler was born 10th December 1916 (Fig. 1, August 1917) as the first son of a dentist in Breslau. Early on he was interested in the laboratory work. Father Bimler had published and patented a lingual arch (Fig. 2) with a crank lock, that would snap into the attachments (Fig. 2) like in the center pole of a closing umbrella. The lingual snap-in arch allowed for a considerable shortening of the chair-time. But in those days, the “new” way of treatment was with removables. The progress in the material allowed the development of loose fitting appliances, taking advantage of the patient’s own muscle forces and trying to influence growth through the involvement of the soft tissues. This painless method spread quickly. A pioneer in the ortho field was Charles Nord (Fig. 3) from Amsterdam, Netherlands. He propagated the correction of malocclusions as a treatment for the general population, not any more as a luxury for the rich. At the 1920 meeting of the EOS in Heidelberg, he presented his treatment methods for poor children at the price of five guilders per month, about five dollars.
This could be done only with the removable appliances. Again, with great timing, A. Martin Schwarz (1887-1963) from Vienna, Austria, had presented his expansion plates in 1936. This was possible thanks to his technician who had developed the modern expansion screw. With the turn of a screw, an orthodontic treatment could be executed by any general dentist without special education or training. Other pioneers of removable treatment appliances were Viggo Andersen (1870-1950) with his elastic device and Karl Häupl (1893-1960). Their treatment methods were developed and applied especially in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Both had an education in general medicine and periodontics, so they put high emphasis on the medical aspects of the removable functional appliances. As opposed to fixed braces, these do not cause the partly irreversible damage to the roots, the enamel and the periodont – not to mention the joints! Removables soon became the safe, economic, modern treatment method.
After 1939 during WW 2 in Europe, the development in orthodontics was interrupted and postponed. The medical officer Dr. med. Peter Bimler returned in 1946 from a British POW camp to Germany. He found a first job as assistant doctor to his uncle, an ENT specialist. Later, Dr. med Bimler studied dentistry under a special program for physicians and became a partner at his father’s orthodontic practice, which he had started from practically zero, as they were now refugees, re-settling in West Germany.
The disintegrated post-war economy in Germany required from father and son a high level of inspiration and creativity. The few dental supply material available was too expensive for them. Luckily, father Dr. Walter Bimler had managed to salvage some rolls of stainless steel wire, and so his son Peter spent his free time to develop an own orthodontic advice, in order to be independent from the materials and prices of anybody else. His main concern beside the economic aspect was the efficiency and the safety. Bimler wanted to combine the efficiency of the fixed treatment with the safety of the removables. The final aspect of the “Gebissformer”, Oral Adaptor, was the result of several years of clinical experiences with different shapes, variations, and wires. To this very day, the appliance is used world wide as originally developed (Fig. 4) . Also his private life improved tremendously when he finally could marry his sweet heart Erika (Fig. 5).
To facilitate orthodontic care for the biggest possible part of the population, Peter Bimler founded in 1953 the “Bimler Laboratorien KG”. The concept was that the general dentists would manage the orthodontic treatment and refer to a specialist in any case of doubt. Not only in West Germany but also abroad, the Bimler Appliance became quickly very popular. Only the development and introduction of the prefabricated parts, ready-made arches and springs in the different necessary sizes, could satisfy the worldwide demand. With the preformed parts, one could quickly learn how to correctly assemble a Bimler Appliance. These preformed parts became a big success and are sold worldwide until today. Soon the family could afford a nice car (Fig.6).
Based on his experiences from the ENT-office, Dr. Bimler developed his cephalometric analysis in order to find out for himself an explication for the different reactions of his patents to the same treatment method. In 1957, the first report of the “Factor Analysis” was published with 10 “Factors” representing the skeletal relations. The “Bimler Cephalometric Analysis” as it is recently re-printed In Japanese by Yasunaga Co., attracted the attention of the orthodontists especially in the United States. In 1958, Coenraad Moorrees from Boston came, whose famous book on cephalometrics was published in the same year.
In 1962 Shinjiro Takahashi from Tokyo Medical and Dental University visited, the first guest from Japan. He left this message:
“I came here to engage in the tutelage of Dr Bimler by recommendation of Dr.Tepper and Dr. Moorrees at Bonn Germany. I want to spend a profitable time. Shinjiro Takahashi.”
In 1965, Cecil Steiner from the 1953 “Steiner Analysis” came with his wife. During the summer of 1967, Robert Ricketts came to Wiesbaden and compared scientific notes. In his own analysis from 1960, he gave his private interpretation of the anatomical nomenclature, so “dolichofacial” means the contrary of the anatomical “dolichoprosopic”, which is the contrary of “leptoprospic”. As the version of Ricketts was generally accepted in dentistry, Bimler preferred for the description of the facial types the words horizontal and vertical, which are clearly defined and internationally understood. Also in 1967, another visitor from Japan Motohiko Sato from the Nippon Dental College came to Wiesbaden (Fig. 7).
On 12th December 1967 at Bimler’s birthday almost half a century ago, there was a birthday party with the employees (Fig. 8). The next year, from Kobe there came Mikio Azumi and Tsutomu Ohta. Dr. Bimler always had a very international staff with up to six different nations represented. It was also the time of many international invitations, for example by the Portuguese Orthodontic Society to Angola, which was a Portuguese colony on those days (Fig. 9), or to Spain (Fig.10). But also the family life and sports and vacation were always very important for him. Every year, there was a long three week paddle trip with camping in small tents, on a different European river (Fig. 11). Slowly the children grew up and married (Fig. 12), and then there where some grandchildren (Fig. 13).
Also, the family entered in the business with daughter and soon introduced also her future husband Michael Rhodes (Fig. 14). Soon the family would travel for business in two generations (Fig. 15) . In vacations, they even would go in three generations (Fig. 16). In 1995 however his beloved wife Erika died, and life never was the same again.
To help him keep going there was his family and his hobbies, among which were also thermal waters: Luckily there are hot springs in Wiesbaden (Fig. 17). Peter Bimler died on July 28, 2003. For his 100th birthday, the German Dental Museum will have a special exhibition opening Dezember 10th (www.dentalmuseum.eu).
Honorary member of
The State of Texas, 1970
Asociación Argentina de Ortopedia Funcional. 1965
International Association for Orthodontics, Diplomate, 1967
Sociedad Columbiana de Ortopedia Maxilar, 1993
Sociedade Paulista de Ortodontia, 1988
Societé Française d'Orthopédie Dento-Faciale
Gesellschaft für kieferorthopädische Zahntechnik
Gremio Estomatológico Matancero y Filial de la
Sociedad Cubana de Estomatologá Cuba, 2002
Sociedad Cubana de Estudios Ortodóncicos Cuba, 1999