Citizen Of The Week -Dr. Balshi

Ambler Gazette

Dr Thomas Balshi with Patient

Dr. Thomas J. Balshi makes people smile with fund-raising and pro-bono dental work

Dr. Thomas J. Balshi puts smiles on the faces of his patients, giving them new grins through his dental implant treatments.

“It really does make a difference in patients’ lives,” he said. “They really come out of their shell once they have a new set of teeth.”

A longtime member of the area business community, Balshi founded the Fort Washington based practice Pi Dental Center. The Prosthodontics Intermedica Foundation, a charitable arm of the practice, was established in the mid-1990s by he and his wife, Joanne, residents of Gwynedd. The goal of the group is “to help a few individuals every year that have fallen through the cracks of the system,” Balshi said, providing them with free dental implant treatment.

“The foundation was established to care for a few of these patients each year,” he said. “It is a very costly treatment.”
Prospective patients contact the foundation by letter or through its Web site and discuss the problems they are facing and their cases are then evaluated to see if they qualify for treatment.

“Obviously we can’t treat everyone in the world — although we’d like to,” he said.
Last year, the foundation dedicated its efforts toward helping local victims of the Sept. 2001 attacks and their families, raising about $60,000. A portion of his Pennsylvania Avenue office was dedicated to a permanent memorial in their honor. The Balshis’ organization has also conducted fund-raisers for other groups like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cancer center.

In 1971, Balshi began specializing in prosthodontics and in the intervening years he and his associates have placed more than 16,000 implants on patients of all ages, ranging from a single tooth to complete rehabilitation. He created the trademarked “Teeth in a Day” procedure, which allows patients to enjoy the benefits of fixed replacement teeth the same day implants are placed, rather than going through a three- to six-month process. Balshi has taken on numerous goodwill cases, donating his services to provide people with new teeth.

When performing one of the “Teeth in a Day” treatments, he said, “It’s not unusual to find the staff humming that familiar tune ‘What a Difference a Day Makes.”

In one case, Balshi said he and his team treated a woman from Arkansas whose teeth were “distractingly unattractive.” After getting her new teeth, she was promoted from a clerical position to a junior management position with her company, she obtained her GED and speaks publicly on behalf of her company.

“She’s doing a lot better now,” Balshi said. For him and his staff, the best part of the treatment is stepping back and watching people move ahead in their lives with confidence. “Its really a wonderful wonderful reward for what we do. It’s a real thrill for the staff.”

Balshi credits his practice’s continued success to the skilled staff members there and to the office’s complete offerings for all aspects of dental work, including surgical and laboratory facilities.

“We have everything under one roof. Patients really appreciate that,” he said. “We’re not only a clinical center, but a research center and a teaching center.”

Teaching is another way Balshi works toward reaching out to patients, sharing what he has learned about permanent implants with students from throughout the world.

Inevitably, they will tell us stories about the people they were able to help,” he said. “It [the implant procedure] has changed people’s lives from being almost clinically depressed. We hear…every single day, ‘I feel so much better about myself.”

Citizen of the Week, Ambler Gazette, 2002.

Pi Dental Center, Fort Washington, PA