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Dental implant groups fight over name as business grows

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drmithila's picture
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Joined: 14 May 2011

  A Chicago-based association for implant dentists is suing a Florida upstart group in a case that highlights the booming specialty of replacing teeth.
The 61-year-old American Academy of Implant Dentistry alleges that the North Miami Beach, Fla.-based American Dental Implant Association is trying to pass itself off as the older group in mailings and other materials to unfairly recruit dentists looking for training and credentials in the field of implants, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Some dentists, confused by the Florida group's use of the name “American Implant Dentistry Association,” have obtained services from that group when they thought they were dealing with the 4,000-member Chicago operation, the complaint said.
Dr. Arun Garg, who founded the Florida group in 2008, said in an email that the lawsuit is “a transparent and meritless attempt to bully a competitor that is very well-respected in the dental implant industry,” and denied ever using the dentistry association title.
The lawsuit comes as the business is booming for dental implants, which are artificial teeth that are screwed into a jawbone. At an average cost of $4,000 to $5,000, the procedures are expensive, but patients increasingly prefer them to dentures.
“Patients are coming in much more frequently requesting dental implants as a solution,” said Dr. Mark Hutten, an assistant professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine who specializes in replacing missing teeth.
Nearly 70 percent of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one tooth, according to the Chicago-based American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
One measure of the growing specialty is the rising market for products used in the procedures, such as instruments and the teeth themselves. The U.S. market for such products is expected to reach $1.54 billion by 2018, according to a study by iData Research Inc. a Vancouver, British Columbia-based research firm.
About 26 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 65 and 74 has lost all of their teeth, making them prime candidates for implants, according to the oral surgeons' study.
“We've seen a definite trend away from conventional prosthodontic treatments like dentures,” said Dr. Lee Jameson, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry and former dean of the Northwestern University Dental School.
In its complaint, the Chicago group accuses the Florida group of engaging in a “calculated strategy of willful trademark infringement.” The Chicago group is seeking an unspecified amount of money in damages and a court order barring the Florida operation from using certain terms it says are deliberately intended to confuse potential members.
The Florida group has not yet filed a response in court to the complaint, which was filed in late April.
“We are confident that the court will rule in our favor,” Dr. Garg said.
An employee of the Chicago group referred requests for comment to its attorney, who did not return a call seeking comment.

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An easy way for you to share and discuss dentistry and more...

For any help on posting on the site, email at [email protected]