Julie Tay, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Align Technology
The influence of digital technologies is impacting all of us on every scale, from individuals to enterprises to the global economy. Businesses in every industry around the world are entering the digital space and are transformed by it. This global phenomenon even fuels our vision of a dentist’s office, now filled with state-of-the-art technologies, intraoral scanners, and highly innovative treatment tools.
The dental industry’s growth and transformation is particularly notable in Asia. Over the last 2-3 years, I have witnessed a growing demand in the market for what was previously considered exclusively aesthetic dental procedures. Singaporeans in particular are becoming increasingly aware that a smile is the most dominant feature of the face in light of social pressures and a very competitive corporate culture. With rising incomes and increasing awareness around personal care there has been a shift in consumer spending, Singaporeans are looking to transform their smiles and are spending on treatment solutions that don’t disrupt their image or lifestyle. Today, more adults in Singapore are seeking orthodontic treatment to improve their appearance, as well as oral health and function.
2017 was a milestone year for the dental industry as we witnessed the continued evolution of dental practices from conventional approaches to digital dentistry. With the emergence of technologies like digital intraoral scanning, visualization software to help doctors and patients visualize treatment outcomes, digitally driven restorations, and web and social based patient communication tools, general dentistry practices are increasinglydefined by new standards and terms such as “breakthrough” or “transformational”. This year has seen even morefocus on digital dentistry enabling high-quality restorative, orthodontic and dental hygiene care, increased precision and treatment outcomes, as well as improved consumer experiences and convenience.
As we move on to a new year, we see the digital dentistry landscape expanding further.
The creation of restorative digital workflow solutions benefits both dental practitioners and consumers
In 2018, the opportunity across Asia Pacific with countries like China, Japan, Korea and India represents enormous untapped market potential for dental practices as they increasingly understand the benefits of end-to-end digitization and implement more digital strategies. What can we expect from dentistry in the coming year?
Imagine the modern dental practice of the future where mass customization and rapid visualization capabilities enable consumers to view 3D simulations of their new smiles within a few minutes, or help the dentists deliver customized dental restorations in one day, without the arduous process of multiple consultationsand invasive procedures. Those are just two examples that are already improving efficiency and patient experience in today’s dental practice. We are moving towards a new world where dental practitioners may no longer need to rely on time-consuming manual tools and traditional methods for dental procedures, including orthodontics.
Many consumers, especially adults, put off straightening their teeth because they’d rather not be seen with metal brackets and wires during special occasions such as weddings, new jobs, or photo shoots. However, the days of uncomfortable metal braces and the self-consciousness that usually accompanies this treatment are over. Digital advances in the dental and orthodontic fields now offer a wide array of options including custom-made clear aligners like the Invisalign system that deliver a better smile without the discomfort and very visible appearance of metal braces.The stigma once applied to braces is fading thanks to cutting-edge aesthetic appliances and dental treatments that leverage advanced 3D printing technology, which also allow individual patients to visualize precise 3D digital images of their teeth on a multi-touch screen. Patients can see what their new smiles will look like before committing to treatment.
An enabling technology in this new approach to dentistry is the digital intraoral scanner, which replaces physical dental impressions, takes treatment planning and patient-dentist collaboration online, and ensures more accurate restorations and appliance fit. This multi-tool of modern dental and orthodontic practices provides unmatched accuracy, image quality and utility in patient records and visualization.
We are entering a new era of dentistry where today’s practices are modernized, with physical impressions replaced with online treatment planning platforms to meet consumers’ expectations of less chair time and greater convenience throughout their experience. This is especially true among millennials who are demanding “convenient dentistry” and “instant everything”. The creation of restorative digital workflow solutions benefits both dental practitioners and consumers, allowing not only enhanced dentist-to-consumer engagement, but ultimately reducing costs and providing fuss-free solutions to a broad set of the consumer population.
The global digital dentistry market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 18 percent and reach $3.6 billion by 2020. Within this segment, the Asia Pacific region is witnessing the highest growth rate supported by a huge population base with greater technological awareness and higher disposable income. Given this tremendous momentum, perhaps we should we all consider embracing digital dentistry as part of OUR future.