U.S. dental labs currently produce about 30 implant abutments each month, half of which are custom abutments. Of the implant cases handled by the dental labs, 75% are single unit cases and 15% are implant-supported bridges."/> U.S. dental labs currently produce about 30 implant abutments each month, half of which are custom abutments. Of the implant cases handled by the dental labs, 75% are single unit cases and 15% are implant-supported bridges."/>

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    The continuing evolution of implant production

    Analysis of the implant market and the demand for abutments from the Key Group’s 2011 U.S. Dental Laboratory Market Assessment and Trends Report.

    Dental laboratories are currently witnessing a strong increase in demand for dental implant abutments. Dentists are performing implant procedures at an increasing rate, substantially driving the request for stock and custom abutments. On average, U.S. dental labs currently produce about 30 implant abutments each month, half of which are custom abutments. Of the implant cases handled by the dental labs, 75% are single unit cases and 15% are implant-supported bridges. Of the 33% of dental laboratories that offer mini implants, about 7 mini implants are produced per month. Several key trends prove that demand for dental implants will continue to grow, and certain factors will continue to affect the market over the next decade.

    Growth factors

    The population of the United States is witnessing a major shift in demographics. The large population of the baby boomer generation has greatly impacted all aspects of the economy and the dental lab industry is no exception. The surgical dental implant procedure has become more popular over the past few years and patient requests are up.

    With the baby boomer population aging, implant production in dental labs is expected to grow exponentially in the coming decade. A desire by this particular demographic for more permanent teeth (not removable dentures) and a willingness to pay more for an esthetically pleasing profile will all continue to increase implant demand.

    The Internet also has given way to a plethora of information on dental implants to be shared with patients wishing to research more about the procedure.

    Patients want more

    Several factors have led to the increased demand and higher production rates in dental labs. The baby boomer age group is willing to spend the extra money on cosmetic dentistry, and implant procedures for this generation are desirable because they are quick, natural looking and partially covered by insurance companies. If insurance coverage expands, implant procedures will accelerate at an even greater rate. Because of this, stock abutments are expected to increase in use by 3% over the next year. However, custom abutments are expected to see a larger increase at about 7% over the upcoming year.

    By enabling the dentist to achieve optimal design and profile of the implant and by providing patients a restorative product that is specifically designed to meet their individual anatomy, custom abutments are becoming a more popular requested product in the dental lab.

    Further analysis indicates that custom abutments are produced 20% more often in larger labs than in smaller labs. The demand for dental implants from labs will grow as general dentists increasingly incorporate this service as a core offering in their practices and because these procedures are now an important part of the dental school curriculum due to their advantages over traditional bridges.

    Mini Implants an option

    Mini implants will continue to see an increase in demand. This type of implant is less expensive than conventional implants and offers a single stage procedure. Mini implants also have risen in popularity because of their use in retaining dentures. Today’s current American demographic will drive the demand higher for this type of implant, as more sustainable, and implant-retained dentures have become popular choices.

    The average number of mini implants produced per month (currently seven cases) in dental laboratories is expected to grow as the population in America continues to desire simple, cosmetic procedures that do not break the bank or cost hours of time in the dentist’s office.

    A look ahead

    Modifications in implant technology, a changing American demographic, and the increased occurrence of this procedure performed by general dentists will all impact the future of implant production in dental labs. The push and pull of these factors will cause dental labs to continuously adapt to a changing market environment.