The specialty once considered to be the least glamorous is thriving. According to initial results of LMT's 2008 Fee Survey, 58% of our denture lab respondents report an increase in profitability in the past two years, largely due to increased sales, greater productivity and higher fees. For instance, the average fee for a complete maxillary denture charged by removable labs has jumped 25% in just two years, up from $259 to $323. Click here to view the chart
Driving this growth is an aging population of educated dental consumers who are seeking more stable, comfortable dentures. For instance, one of the hottest areas of growth in removable prosthetics is mini-implant-supported overdentures. Mini-implants require less invasive and less expensive surgery as well as a much shorter healing time than conventional implants and the implant-support overdenture offers greater stability than a conventional denture, all of which make for a more appealing restoration to the patient.
The aging boomers are also much more aware of the esthetic potential of dentistry. Tired of flat smile lines, these patients are demanding more natural-looking, customized dentures that inevitably come with a higher price tag.
Another restorative shift is that flexible RPDs with tissue-color clasps are gaining patient favor over metal partial dentures because they are more esthetic and comfortable, easier to insert, stronger and have less breakage.
There are approximately 76 million baby boomers in the U.S. and the statistics for that population group bode well for future market potential. 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 (up from 33.6 million in 1991), according to Chester Douglass, DDS, author of Will There be a Need for Complete Dentures in the United States in 2020, published in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry's January 2002 issue.
New product developments
Thanks to manufacturers' product developments, removable laboratories are better able to meet patient demand. Some of the most noted advances in recent years include:
- New lines of denture teeth specifically designed for lingualized occlusion and implant-support overdentures as well as those that offer more natural-looking esthetics and match bleached natural teeth.
- Kits to color characterize the denture base and denture teeth for greater esthetics.
- New thermoplastics and injection processing systems that save time and reduce distortion and shrinkage.
- Light-cured materials that offer cleaner fabrication procedures.