It's predicted that the number of adults needing one or two complete dentures will continue to rise, increasing to 37.9 million adults in 2020, and demand is also growing thanks to an aging population of educated dental consumers who seek a more esthetic, natural-looking restoration.
Removable technicians are also a hot commodity: early in their careers, many technicians opted for the glamour of C&B and, today, the limited number of skilled denture technicians are beginning to retire, creating a profitable opportunity for those offering removable work. In addition, with the exception of cast partial frameworks, offshore outsourcing isn't having the same impact on removables as it is on fixed because it's not cost- or time-efficient to outsource complete dentures.
The market is also thriving thanks to a number of product and technological developments from manufacturers that are helping laboratories produce stronger, more esthetic, more comfortable restorations in less time, including continued improvements in acrylic denture teeth, colored clasps, the resurgence of interest in lingualized occlusion which makes teeth setup easier and provides stability and balance, and light-cured materials that offer cleaner fabrication procedures.
There are also several key growth areas:
Flexible RPDs. New thermoplastics and injection processing systems save time and reduce distortion and shrinkage.
Implant-retained overdentures are seeing a surge in demand thanks to the improved predictability and success of implants as well as the public's increasing awareness of their benefits. This is good news for laboratories and patients alike. Rather than struggling with proper fit, these dentures simply snap into place, giving the patient a more comfortable restoration. For the laboratory, these types of restorations command higher fees. For example, a simple snap-type restoration is about $200 more than a standard denture, while a more complex bar overdenture can go for an additional $500 to $600.
High-end esthetic market. Aging baby boomers are demanding something better than conventional dentures and they're willing to pay for it. Manufacturers are helping technicians tap into this trend by offering an increased number of esthetic denture products such as more natural-looking denture teeth, whiter shades, and kits to color characterize the denture base and denture teeth.
Economy dentures. Laboratories are tapping into this market because there's a growing segment of the denture-wearing population that is low-income or uninsured and a conventional denture is cost prohibitive.
CAD/CAM comes to removables. Working digitally is now available to removable laboratories thanks to systems that allow you to scan and digitally design partial metal frameworks, output them in wax or resin via a 3-D printer, and then cast the frameworks in metal using conventional techniques.
How technology and restorative changes are impacting the specialties
For more market trends visit:
The Orthodontic Market: A Thriving Niche
Implants Go Mainstream
C&B: A Digital World
For more information: Removables: Full Speed Ahead