Pi Dental Center in Fort Washington creates smiles, changes lives
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
By Eric Devlin
Fort Washington >> Three years ago Sisay Tayeh’s life was changed forever after he was attacked by a hyena.
Then just 6 years old, the little boy living in Ethiopia needed to urinate and walked outside of his straw hut alone around dusk to relieve himself. As he stood out in the open, suddenly, out of the nearby brush, the wild animal came charging at him and attacked. It bit off the center of his face, taking his entire nose and upper jaw with one bite.
Hearing his son’s screams, Sisay’s father came out to see the devastation, picked him up and ran for 45 minutes before someone spotted him with a Jeep. They then drove for five hours to the nearest African Mission Station to finally stop the bleeding.
A year after the attack, Sisay was flown to the United States where doctors at Geissinger Medical Center in northern Pennsylvania worked to better help him regain the ability to swallow. With the hard part behind him, Sisay’s team of caregivers turned to Dr. Thomas Balshi and his team at Prosthodontics Intermedica, or Pi Dental Center, in Fort Washington, to help the boy regain a normal appearance. By designing a specialized titanium device that uses super magnets to hold a life-like nose onto his face, Balshi’s team allowed Sisay to feel confident and comfortable around children his own age again.
For Balshi, Sisay’s story might as well have been another day at the office. For over 40 years, the team at Pi Dental Center has been on the cutting edge of prosthetic dentistry.
“Prosthodontists have been around for 60 years in dentistry,” Balshi said. “It deals with the replacement of missing teeth or parts of teeth, so crowns and bridges and dentures and parts of dentures — that’s all forms of prosthetic dentistry. And then with the advent of this discovery of titanium bone, we’re able to take it a step further and give people who have no teeth — give them back permanent teeth again. A third set of permanent teeth.”
Together with Drs. Stephen Alfano and Glenn Wolfinger, and a staff of about 45 people, Balshi has helped change the lives of countless patients for the better. Founded by Balshi in 1972 on Fort Washington Avenue, the practice then moved to its current location at 467 Pennsylvania Avenue in 1986. In addition to treating patients, Pi serves as a training facility for doctors and dental specialists to learn the latest advancements and high-tech procedures in the field like the dental implant procedures “Teeth in a Day” and “Teeth in an Hour.” The practice is constantly updating its facility with the latest technology in order to best serve patients.
For cases like Sisay, Balshi said they have the right tools to treat any case that walks through the door.
“As prosthodontists, we’re trained to do very intense cranial facial treatment, in addition to dental treatment,” he said. “The dental treatment we do is very advanced. Implant supported teeth for people that have no bone left, through a protocol that we’ve developed called the No-Bone Solution. [There’s] a protocol [where] we can get implants into the cheekbones and the cranium to hold a set of permanent teeth for people. That’s one of the things we’re really noted for.”
The company doesn’t just fix people physically though; it also tries to assist with emotional healing. Balshi and his team get to know his patients on a human level. He’s often seen hugging them and asking how they’re doing to make sure they’re doing all they can to help. Pi, he said, strives to make patients feel like they have supporters alongside them whenever they need them.
“We’re there for them for the rest of their life,” he said.
From extreme cases like Sisay, to more everyday procedures like a root canal, Balshi and his team seem to have seen it all. When asked what’s kept him going after all this time, Balshi’s answer seemed very indicative of the Pi’s philosophy as a whole.
“The patients,” he said. “We love to fix people.”