The School of Dental Medicine now has a new facility that meets increased patient demand for implants and trains future dentists on how to perform the associated procedures. The Multidisciplinary Implant Center (MIC) has expanded and relocated to a newly renovated space on the first floor of Salk Hall.

Dental implants can be used to address a variety of conditions, from a single missing tooth to far more complex oral rehabilitation. Because they are so versatile, implants are becoming an increasingly common and popular treatment choice for dentists and patients alike.

Now housed in 2,900 square feet of space, the MIC features nine chairs, including two full surgical suites. Not only does the expanded center increase the capacity for patient care, it also expands the school’s educational and research opportunities.

“I think we’re on the cutting edge here,” said Dr. Steven J. Kukunas (DMD ’86), the center’s clinical director and the SDM’s interim chair of prosthodontics. “Implants will definitely be a major focus as dental medicine moves forward, and we’re providing our students with a valuable hands-on learning opportunity in this growing field.”

In operation since 2003, the MIC was one of the first centers of its kind to be established by a dental school. It places emphasis on collaboration among practitioners from a variety of specialties, including prosthodontics, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery and periodontics, for example. That focus is a unique approach to implant dentistry.

“The key word here is multidisciplinary,” Dr. Kukunas said. “Any number of specialists could be called upon to consult on an implant case. This comprehensive approach not only benefits our patients, but also our students, who are able to incorporate numerous perspectives into their educational experience.”

That educational experience has received major attention from the center since its inception. Every dental student rotates through the MIC at some point during his or her academic career, and updates to the clinical curriculum call for each student to participate in the placement and restoration of a dental implant.

The educational opportunities presented by the MIC are not limited to current students, however. The center hosts continuing education courses for practicing dentists interested in fine-tuning their skills or learning more about the technique. Furthermore, dentists seeking a more in-depth experience can take part in the MIC’s mentorship program, which allows them to spend a number of days working in the center. Dr. Kukunas noted that dentists have brought in patients from neighboring states in order to take advantage of this offering in the past.

“Students and practicing professionals alike can benefit from experiences in the MIC,” said MIC Director Dr. Mark W. Ochs (DMD ’82, MD). “Through these educational offerings, the MIC not only enhances the care of its own patients, but it also has the potential to reach patients throughout the region.”

Uniquely suited to foster the clinical translation of basic science research, the center also will look to integrate SDM research, specifically in the area of tissue engineering, into patient care when that research reaches the application stage. For example, SDM faculty are working to develop a method for generating bone that could be useful in patients whose lack of bone tissue might otherwise rule them out as implant candidates.

For more information on the center’s continuing education offerings and mentorship opportunities, please call 412-648-8370.