Research has always been an integral part of Pi Dental Center. Founder, Dr. Thomas Balshi began doing dental research in 1977 and has continued that tradition with his partner, Dr. Glenn Wolfinger, and the Pi Dental Center team. They have written over 100 articles on their research results which have appeared in notable dental journals such as the: Journal of Prosthodontics, The International Journal of Maxillofacial Implants, Compendium, Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery and The Journal of Implant and Advanced Clinical Dentistry. Both Balshi and Wolfinger have also presented their research at dental symposia worldwide.
Researchers at Pi Dental Center have studied implant placement protocols and success rates for All-On-4, Teeth-In-A-Day, No Bone Solution, Guided Implant Treatment, and Single Tooth Implant Treatment. They have evaluated Brånemark Zygomatic and TiUnite Implants. They have investigated patients with special needs and conditions such as congenital dental disorders, diabetes and tooth loss due to trauma. Additionally, they look for ways to optimize patient treatment procedures, laboratory techniques and the effects of treatment on a patient’s psychosocial health.
Two key researchers working closely with Dr. Balshi and Dr. Wolfinger are Stephen Balshi and Dr. Kimberly Boyd. Stephen Balshi, a biomedical engineer, is, in addition to being the CEO of CM Prosthetics, also the Pi Dental Center Director of Research. Dr. Boyd, who joined the “Pi” team in 2013, is Chair and Associate Professor of Biology and Coordinator of First-Year Advising at Cabrini College with a background in physiology.
Pi Dental Center has partnered with Cabrini College to their mutual advantage. Students provide the dental center with assistance in analytical and other research tasks while the dental center gives students the opportunity to participate in actual ongoing studies. For example, psychology majors trained in social science can conduct statistical analyses, while biology majors can examine the specimens collected from patients in the lab at Cabrini.
Pi Dental Center and Cabrini College have formed a partnership in research. This joint venture has been advantageous to both dental center and school. Pi Dental Center is able to engage Cabrini students in actual ongoing research. Psychology majors trained in social science conduct statistical analysis. Biology majors evaluate samples in the lab at Cabrini.
There are four studies currently underway:
Self-Esteem Study: While significant improvement in oral health and quality of life have been frequently reported, very little current dental literature has focused on the effect dental implants have on a patient’s self-esteem. Over the years, the team and Pi Dental Center has noticed an improvement in patient self-esteem following dental implant treatment. Impact of TEETH-IN-A-DAY on Psychosocial Well-being is an in-depth look at this change in self-esteem with data collected from day of initial consultation through the completion of treatment. The study covers patients who receive a single implant as well as those who require full-mouth restorations.
Smoking Study: Smoking has a negative impact on overall health, and the association between smoking and declining oral health, tooth loss, periodontal disease, and dental implant failure has been well documented. This study, called, “The Impact of Smoking on Dental Implant Short-term Survival and Long-term Success: Quantifying Smoking Toxin Levels,” goes further by examines patients’ smoking habits, history and how it impacts dental implant survival in order to determine the specific level of smoking that relates to implant failure.
While, previous smoking studies have relied on questionnaires, Dr. Boyd states, “This study is unique. We do not rely on questionnaires to determine the level the patient smokes. People do not admit how much they actually smoke. We are measuring the toxins in bone.” Bone samples are taken during surgery, which are then analyzed using atomic absorption spectroscopy to determine lead and cadmium levels. These heavy metal toxins found in all types of tobacco products are good measures of long-term toxin accumulation. Saliva is also collected during healing and recovery process and analyzed to determine nicotine levels. This study of the relationship between implant outcomes and measured concentrations of smoking toxins will help to quantify the risk of implant failure in patients who smoke.
All-On-4 Study: The All-On-4 dental implant protocol is a cost-effective treatment approach to non-removable dental restoration. This All-On-4 study explores the suitability of using tilted implants to provide a fixed prosthesis for full arch rehabilitation. Implant stability and survival will be evaluated.
Impression Technique Report: The goal of the last research project illustrates the accuracy of the impression process during the Teeth In A Day Protocol. A review of all related dental literature is underway.
Following Dr. Boyd’s first visit, she commented, “Pi Dental Center was so engaged in research. It was very impressive.”
In the Photo: Viewpoint operatory where general anesthesia can be provided and surgery filmed, Kimberly L. Boyd, Ph.D. collects data, Hillierie and Shirley, Pi Staff, update records in research database, Stephen Balshi, MBE evaluates prosthesis.
By Chris Raines