Forty-five percent of respondents to LMT's exclusive 2012 Removable Survey rate the market as good and 35% classify it as fair. The majority say their removable business in the first half of 2012 is level or just slightly up or down compared to all of 2011.
At one end of the spectrum is the 9% of survey participants who say the market is booming and that business is markedly up. "All areas of our removable department are up. We had a record May and July was not far behind. As far as fixed, we are down double digits," says Gary Iocco, Owner, Dimension Dental Design, Hastings, MN.
At the opposite end of the scale is the 11% who say the market is poor. "We're down 30 to 40%. Not much new work is coming in; mostly repairs, temporaries and nightguards," says the President of a New Jersey lab.
About one third of our respondents are seeing an uptick in the number of complete dentures being prescribed by their GP clients. Restorations for which they've seen the greatest increase in demand include dentures with more esthetic characterization, implant-retained overdentures, economy dentures and hybrid dentures.
Flexible Partials on the Rise
More than 90% of our survey participants also offer partial dentures; on average, 80% of their workload is cast partials and 20% is flexible. However, demand for flexible partials is on the rise, with about half of our respondents selling more flexible partials than they did five years ago. And among those who are fabricating partials as a service to other labs, 21% note an increase in the demand for flexible partials.
Partial denture outsourcing is also on the rise; about 20% say they are outsourcing more flexible and cast partials than they did in 2007. Sixty percent of our respondents outsource their cast partials and about a third outsource their flexible partials.
On the following pages are LMT's Product Focus on denture-base materials, teeth and partial denture systems and Technology to Watch: AvaDent's Digital Denture, which features a digitally designed and milled denture base into which conventional denture teeth are set.
In the Past Five Years
The restorations for which demand has increased the most significantly are:
• Complete dentures with whiter, brighter teeth
• Flexible RPDs
• Implant-retained overdentures
• Economy dentures
• Hybrid dentures
The most significant advances in removables, according to respondents are:
• Bleach denture tooth shades
• More natural-looking denture teeth
• Advances in thermoplastics
• Improvements in acrylic teeth
• Colored clasps
Survey Demographics: LMT received 206 Removable Surveys via email and snail mail. The respondents represent an accurate regional cross-section of our industry and the breakdown by lab type is: 10% complete denture; 4% partial denture; 66% complete and partial denture; and 20% full service. More than three-quarters of the respondents are one- to five-person labs.