Dr. Max Malan, whose pioneering work in dental implants ushered in a new age for the region's tooth care, has been chosen Utah Dentist of the Year.

"He's the father of implants in Utah," said Dr. Paul Child, president-elect of the national Academy of General Dentistry, which bestowed the title on Malan.The 52-year-old Malan said that for 25 years he'd been trying to advance dental implantology. His award is evidence that the advance has finally "caught on," he said.

The technique involves implanting titanium anchors beneath the gums. An abutment is then screwed to the anchors, and the artificial tooth - either permanent or removable - is then attached to it.

Malan said the cost, however, can be prohibitive for many and that insurance often doesn't cover much, if any, of the expense.

The average cost to do a full lower- or upper-jaw implant is about $7,000 and can go up to $20,000, he said.

The Ogden dentist teaches implant technology worldwide as a representative of the University of Southern California and the University of the Pacific.

He said implants are the answer for America's aging population.

"People trying to keep wobbly dentures in place spend millions of dollars on tons of adhesives. Our mouths weren't meant to be full of such glue," he said.

Although Malan is recognized as the prime mover of Utah implant-ology, he emphasizes that his interest in the technique was sparked by Bountiful dentist Reid Shepard, who performed the first implants in the state.