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BURNABY, British Columbia, Canada: The use of dental implants is rapidly expanding worldwide, including in Latin America. The growth is attributable to high clinical success rates and increasing awareness of the benefits of implant treatment among both patients and clinicians. The region’s dental implant and final abutment market is currently experiencing significant growth after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, cost limitations, along with the increasing prevalence of copycat companies, threaten the market value potential.
Latin America is the second largest dental implant industry hub in the world, after the US. Brazil leads the region in terms of implant sales and procedures. Although the country has a low gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, almost 9.1% of its GDP is spent on the healthcare sector. Growth is being seen across Latin America, and Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have all returned to pre-pandemic levels, units sold in 2022 having exceeded those sold in 2019. This growth is expected to continue over the coming year, though it will not be without challenges.
Constraints on growth in the Latin American dental implant market
One of the major factors hindering the growth of the dental implant industry in Latin America is the high cost of implant treatment for patients. This poses a significant challenge for manufacturers, as a large proportion of the population are simply unable to afford expensive dental implant procedures. Furthermore, a significant proportion of edentulous individuals perceive the loss of a single tooth as a liveable circumstance, primarily owing to limited disposable income. As a consequence of these constraints on the value of the dental implant and final abutment market, many companies have to engage in aggressive price cuts in order to compete with local, less expensive manufacturers. The local companies in Latin America tend to spend far less on marketing and research and development than do the major international implant manufacturers, allowing them to remain profitable despite the consistently declining average selling price (ASP). The overall ASP for dental implants is expected to drop steadily over the forecast period (2019–2029), and this will have an overall negative impact on the potential market value in Latin America (Fig. 1).
Movement towards lower-priced alternatives
It is becoming increasingly difficult for premium dental implant companies to compete with the value and discount segments in Latin America. The value segment is set to experience a substantial increase in market share by volume over the forecast period (Fig. 2). Premium companies are actively acquiring value dental implant companies in order to expand their portfolios and compete with more cost-effective products. In 2015, Straumann purchased Neodent, a Brazilian value dental implant giant which has made strides throughout Latin America and is set to continue experiencing success in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico over the forecast period. More recently, Henry Schein announced an agreement to acquire S.I.N. Implant System, one of Brazil’s leading manufacturers of value dental implants, pending regulatory approval, towards the end of 2023. The market is seemingly more competitive than ever, evident from companies fighting for market share and launching innovative products in aiming to stay ahead of their competitors. In April 2022, Neodent launched its first zirconia implant system, Zi. With more and more value implant companies promising outstanding performance paired with affordability in the Latin American market, the trend towards value dental implant products is likely to continue given the current economic climate.
The presence of imitation products
The movement of the dental implant market towards lower-priced alternatives does not end with value-orientated dental products. It has become commonplace to find sales of unauthorised non-original dental implants and final abutments throughout Latin America. This puts significant pressure on companies manufacturing authorised goods, as they cannot compete with these low-priced, dubious-quality alternatives. Offered by what has been described as copycat brands, these dental implants are labelled as generic or bioequivalent to premium implants. By promising to deliver premium quality at a much lower price, non-original products are able to attract a large customer base. These illegal products continue to be sold commonly, as cost-saving is a massive incentive considering the region’s fragile economy. Though imitation products make up a large portion of the market, it is difficult to quantify their volume, as sales are typically unreported. They are predominately active in the discount implant segment, but there are some transactions in the value implant segment. Non-original abutments typically promise compatibility with premium implants, but the performance of these copycat abutments can differ significantly, leading to poor performance and, ultimately, a worse outcome for the patient. This trend has a downward effect on the overall market value, and unless more stringent laws are put in place to halt these black market sales, the dental implant and final abutment market will continue to suffer the consequences.
“Manufacturers of dental implants and biomaterials are experiencing increasing pressure owing to sales of non-original products.”
This trend is not limited to the dental implant market. For example, premium biomaterials, such as Bio-Oss, produced by Geistlich, have multiple clones available on the market, claiming to offer similar results and quality. Aside from the cost-effectiveness of non-original brands, customers are attracted to these products owing to the over-regulation of the market. To circumvent the hassle of the regulatory paperwork for acquiring a bone graft, opting for an non-original product may be tempting.
The Latin American markets for dental implants and other biomaterials are set to experience significant growth over the forecast period; however, this growth will not come without its difficulties. Manufacturers of dental implants and biomaterials are experiencing increasing pressure owing to sales of non-original products, which are driving down the market value in Latin America. This trend is greatly reducing the overall ASP of dental implants, final abutments and bone graft substitutes. New dental implant companies entering the market must face non-original products as their major competition, and this may prove difficult to overcome.
For 16 years, iData Research has been a strong advocate for data-driven decision-making in the global medical device, dental and pharmaceutical industries. This article is based on research findings from the company’s 2023 reports on the dental bone graft substitute market in Latin America and the dental implant market in Brazil.