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Dr. Carl Misch receives 2014 Distinguished Service Award

September 15, 2014

By Jean Williams

Photo of Drs. Misch and Norman
Distinguished gentleman: Dr. Carl E. Misch (left) accepted the Distinguished Service Award from ADA President Charles Norman Aug. 23 in Chicago at the International Congress of Oral Implantologists Summer Implant Prosthetic Symposium.
Dr. Carl E. Misch is a lot of things. For instance, he is a knight, having been deemed so by the King of Sweden. He's also a chevalier of La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an esteemed French wine society.

He could have been a number of other things. He might've been a professional baseball player, for example, having been drafted by the Detroit Tigers after pitching two no-hitters in the American Legion Baseball league.

Instead, he chose dentistry. The profession, according to his many admirers, is the richer for it.

To that end, the American Dental Association's Board of Trustees has bestowed Dr. Misch with its 2014 Distinguished Service Award.

"The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor conferred by the American Dental Association's Board of Trustees," said ADA President Charles Norman. "For his long and distinguished dental career, I am pleased to nominate Dr. Carl E. Misch for the 2014 ADA Distinguished Service Award."

Dr. Misch has had plenty of options available in his life, and through his work as an internationally recognized expert on implant dentistry, he has returned the favor. Thanks to his many innovations, he is considered one of the leading forces moving implant dentistry into the 21st century. His scientific and clinical developments have benefited a range of people, from the everyday person to international royalty.

"Dr. Misch is remarkably adept at taking patient implant circumstances that didn't work out with the most satisfactory result and transforming the situation into really great masterpieces," said Dr. Joseph Hagenbruch, ADA 8th District trustee.  

In nominating Dr. Misch for the Distinguished Service Award, his friend and business partner, Dr. Nolen Levine wrote, "As a clinician, his implant complication-based practice is the 'last chance' for patients with complicated and challenging cases, where he has made the impossible, possible."

In a career that kicked off in the early 1970s, when he earned his D.D.S. from the University of Detroit Mercy, the highlights continue to pile up. Two of his most seminal achievements have been the development of the Misch Bone Density Classification, which is considered an international standard, and the Misch Key Implant Positions for diagnosis and treatment planning.

In 1984, he founded the Misch Implant Institute, which he directs, in Birmingham, Michigan. "As director, he has trained more than 4,500 doctors in a hands-on, yearly forum of education in implant dentistry," noted Dr. Norman.

The Misch Implant Institute has locations in Florida and Nevada, and offers a one-year continuum for implant education.

An inventor, Dr. Misch has been awarded 14 patents related to implant dentistry and is co-inventor of the BioHorizons Maestro Dental Implant System.
As a consequence of brain cancer surgery, Dr. Misch has retired from practice.

A prolific educator, he has held multiple academic positions at dental schools and in other science departments at universities. He was clinical professor in the Department of Periodontology and Oral Implantology and director of Oral Implantology in the Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry. He served on the board of trustees at the University of Detroit Mercy, where he is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Prosthodontics. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in the Department of Periodontics/Geriatrics and an adjunct professor at the School of Engineering in the Department of Biomechanics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

He was the director of the Oral Implantology Residency Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine from 1989-96.     

Dr. Misch maintained a private practice restricted to implant surgery — bone grafting, implant placement and implant complications — and related prosthetics for more than 30 years. His office was located in Beverly Hills, Michigan, and, for the past three years, in Chicago. But he's a known jetsetter when it comes to treating patients, lecturing and demonstrating his techniques, teaching in dental schools, and offering continuing education to practicing dentists.

Wrote Dr. W. Carter Brown, president of the Academy of General Dentistry, in his nomination letter: "As a practicing dentist, I have directly benefitted from the work of Dr. Misch over the years. His organization of fact-based, data-driven information focuses the ability to transfer knowledge in an outstanding manner. He has been a leader in education techniques and modalities and has changed the way much of continuing dental education is presented. … Dr. Misch provides the expertise and information for dentists which will allow a broader array of services to be available to more patients."

"In my opinion, when considering the magnitude of the principles and contributions of Dr. Greene Vardiman Black for operative dentistry, over 100 years ago, which still hold valid application to present-day dentistry, Dr. Carl Misch arguably has contributed to and achieved a parallel degree of advancement for the art and science of implant dentistry," said Dr. Hagenbruch, who has himself taken classes taught by Dr. Misch. "He has truly served as a pioneer in advancing implant dentistry and has helped raise it to a much more predictable, precise, esthetic and longevity-positive treatment option."

Dr. Misch is author of more than 250 scientific articles. He also has written six books, with the latest, "Dental Implant Prosthetics," released in August. A prior book, "Contemporary Implant Dentistry," has been translated into nine languages, said Dr. Levine, who practices in Chicago. Dr. Levine is contributing to a seventh book on preventing and treating implant complications with Dr. Misch, Dr. Randolph Resnik, surgical director of the Misch Implant Institute, and the Misch Institute faculty.

Drs. Linda and Bryan Edgar, who have a family practice in Federal Way, Washington, also wrote nomination letters. Said their letter, "Bryan and I have been fortunate to be involved in ADA governance at many levels and have served as delegates for many years. I do not believe I have ever felt so strongly about any other candidate that Dr. Carl Misch deserves this ADA service award."

"We all have our own calling, and Dr. Misch has listened and exceeded his calling by a thousandfold," said Dr. George R. Zehak, secretary of the Chicago Dental Society, in nominating Dr. Misch.

Dr. Hagenbruch's own letter resounded Dr. Zehak's sentiment: "It has been my experience that rarely does someone come along so motivated, gifted and dedicated that, year after year, they can sustain an eagerness and a willingness to commit themselves to their life's work so remarkably. I certainly know of no one that meets and advances the art and science of dentistry any more successfully and effectively than Dr. Carl Misch."

Adds Dr. Levine, "Although Dr. Misch has a vast list of accomplishments, he remains humble and accessible to patients, students and staff."

Dr. Misch continues to lecture, teach and write, but on an adjusted basis. On Aug. 23, Dr. Norman presented Dr. Misch with the Distinguished Service Award at the International Congress of Oral Implantologists Summer Implant Prosthetic Symposium. Ordinarily, the award is presented at the ADA annual meeting. In deference to Dr. Misch's health preventing his travel to San Antonio, the award was presented early.

Said Dr. Levine, who has known Dr. Misch for nearly 40 years, "Dr. Misch got up and said, 'You know, in many ways it's fitting that this award comes to me at this time.  My first award from the American Dental Association came when I was a student. My research was recognized and I was selected to represent the United States by the American Dental Association at an international research competition in Europe.' He said, 'It's only fitting that my last award also comes from the ADA.' "

As he continues his trajectory of innovation and general excellence in implantology, Dr. Misch's nominators asked him to pause and reflect with them on his brilliant, fruitful — and distinguished — career.     

Nominator Dr. Susan Bordenave-Bishop, a private practice dentist in Peoria, Illinois, and a past ADA delegate for the 8th District, sums it up well: "Now is an excellent opportunity to return the huge favor that he has so selflessly imparted to patients and dentists alike."