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Implant dentistry trailblazer and educator dies

Dr. Carl Misch was honored in 2014 with the ADA Distinguished Service Award

January 10, 2017

By Michelle Manchir


Dr. Carl E. Misch
Internationally recognized leader in implant dentistry, standout educator and researcher Dr. Carl E. Misch, who founded an implant institute that today has three locations and thousands of graduates around the world, died Jan. 4 at age 69.

"Carl Misch devoted his life to elevating the standard of care in implant dentistry," said Dr. Randolph Resnik, who was one of Dr. Misch's first residents and lectured alongside him for 30 years. "His pioneering principles and classifications led to the origin of modern implant dentistry."

He developed the Misch Bone Density Classification, which is widely used internationally, and also the Misch Key Implant Positions for diagnosis and treatment planning. He is the founder of the Misch Implant Institute that has locations in Michigan, Nevada and Florida.

An innovator, Dr. Misch has been awarded 14 patents related to implant dentistry. He is the co-inventor of the BioHorizons Maestro Dental Implant System.

He held academic positions at dental schools in Michigan, Alabama, California and Pennsylvania. He lectured in all fifty states and more than 47 countries, averaging more than 150 each year, said Dr. Nolen Levine, his longtime friend and business partner.

Colleagues recalled Dr. Misch's natural talent, and his passion, for educating others.

Dr. Levine said Dr. Misch challenged his students to never stop asking questions, often telling them, "We don't know what we don't know."

Said Dr. Resnik, "He had an uncanny ability to engage and teach fellow dentists what he had learned along the way. He unselfishly gave others the gift of his knowledge, as his true belief was to always share what you have learned."

A prolific author, Dr. Misch wrote more than 250 scientific articles and six books, including his latest, "Avoiding Complications in Oral Implantology," expected to be released in March, which is co-written with Dr. Resnik. Dr. Misch's ubiquitous textbook, "Contemporary Implant Dentistry," has been translated into nine languages.

Speaking to his dedication, Dr. Levine said Dr. Misch frequently wrote in between seeing patients, on airplanes and late into the night.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Misch maintained a private practice as an implant surgeon in California, Michigan and, most recently, Chicago alongside Dr. Levine.

Calling his friend a "consummate professional," Dr. Levine recently found a handwritten note Dr. Misch had jotted on his first day in their shared office on which he'd logged the names and a memorable trait of office staffers so he could address everyone by name right away.

Dr. Misch's innovative research and work has been recognized with awards from scores of dental organizations, including the Academy of General Dentistry, the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

In 2014, the ADA Board of Trustees bestowed upon Dr. Misch the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor conferred by the Board.

After a diagnosis of brain cancer in 2014, Dr. Misch continued to research and gave lectures up until about six weeks before his death, said Dr. Michael Pikos, Dr. Misch's former student and a longtime friend, who invited his late colleague to lecture at the Pikos Institute in Florida in August 2016.

"He was as sharp as I'd ever seen him," Dr. Pikos said.
 
In fact, he had lectures planned for the next couple of years, said Dr. Stephen Towns, another former student of Dr. Misch.

"He was not looking back, and I think that kept him going," he said.
 
Added Dr. Levine, "Up to the very end, with his lectures, writing and ideas for new research studies, Carl was always in there pitching," a reference not only to Dr. Misch's work ethic, but also his athletic chops.

Before graduating dental school at the University of Detroit in 1973, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers after pitching two no-hitters in the American Legion Baseball League.  A Renaissance man, Dr. Misch was also a chevalier of a revered French wine society. He played the saxophone, performing with a band in high school and college they called the "Misch-fits," Dr. Levine said.

But for his life's work, Dr. Misch chose dentistry.

"His commitment to the profession was second to none," said Dr. Pikos.