On dental technology in the first quarter

May 24, 2013
Why the march baird survey is encouraging for dentists in 2013

Why the march baird survey is encouraging for dentists in 2013

By lauren burns, associate editor

After finishing the first quarter reports for 2013 with Dental Economics, Baird Equity Research is optimistic about the dental technology industry this year.

Their third month's report for this year implies that, while dental technology hasn't been the strongest sector, it's making a revival. "March Dental Survey – Showing Signs of Life" says that results are encouraging, and that patient volumes are showing the "best uptick" in the last year. Here are the specifics of why the industry is proving to be so vibrant.

From ortho to implants, there have been improvements. Despite January and February of this year showing "cautious" results, March may bring the quarter up just a bit, and is foreshadowing a more successful quarter to follow. As is typical, Henry Schein, Inc. and DENTSPLY International Inc. are on top.

Results are encouraging, "if not very encouraging," as is implied by patient volume trends from the past three to six months having improved to the second-best level since early 2009. Monthly volume trends are at the highest point of the last six months. Specialists should be content to hear that their procedures – restorative, orthodontic, and endodontic – are at multi-year highs. Despite March looking strong, January and February's results may likely keep the first quarter looking stable rather than improved. [Fig. 1]

Of the 209 dentists who responded the Baird survey, volume trends over the last month has greatly improved from the past five, proving that the first quarter was much stronger overall than Q4 of 2012. [Fig. 2]

High acuity treatment options, such as dental implants, are on the rise. Pictured above is The Inclusive Tooth Replacement Solution from Glidewell Laboratories, as unveiled during the Chicago Midwinter Meeting in February.

In addition to specialty procedures, new patient visits hit all-time highs in March. According to Baird, pronounced demand for specialty work is a result of improved consumer confidence. Comparing the demand for higher-end restorative, cosmetic, endodontic, and orthodontic procedures since the fall of 2010, there has certainly been an improvement in high acuity treatment options. [Fig. 3]

Though dentists plan to spend less over the next 12 months on equipment than in the past 12 months, analysts aren't worried, "especially as this month's survey findings, on the margin, are a little less bad than the last couple months." [Fig. 4]

Despite slow growth or stability in some areas, and first quarter stability more likely than improvement, analysts are confident that domestic dental demand is encouraging overall.