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Clear aligners market expected to see substantial growth

The global clear aligners market is expected to grow sevenfold within the next decade. (Image: Evgeniyqw/Shutterstock)

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Advancements in 3D-scanning technology, thermoforming materials and 3D printing have paved the way for the clear aligner market to be worth US$32.3 billion (€29.6 billion) by 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.5%, according to a market report by Grand View Research (GVR). As indicated by this market research, stand-alone practices will have the largest revenue share. Other factors fuelling the growth are increasing rates of dental disorders and teenagers opting for clear aligners.

A 2020 study reported the global prevalence of malocclusion as being as high as 56% in children and adolescents. The highest rate was seen in Africa (81%) and Europe (72%), and the rate in America stood at 53% and Asia at 48%. Malocclusion is the third most prevalent dental condition, after dental caries and periodontal disease, according to a 2018 study. Malocclusion increases the risk of traumatic dental injuries, caries, temporomandibular joint problems and harm to overall periodontal health, providing many reasons, aside from aesthetic ones, for correcting misaligned teeth.

Regional growth

Having increasing research and development investments and many global competitors, North America came out top of the global market in 2021, according to the GVR market report. A higher incidence of dental disorders and heightening demand for improved technology also contributed to the growth in the region.

However, the GVR report predicts that the Asia Pacific market will grow at a CAGR of 31.4% over the course of the forecast period. As the popularity of clear aligners as an aesthetic option in developing countries like China and India increases, companies are taking notice. Since 2016, industry leader Align Technology has been present in India, where it has an estimated target customer base size of 80 million.

Age groupings

As more teenagers demand alternatives to fixed orthodontic appliances that are less visually obvious and more comfortable, their parents are looking into the suitability of clear aligners for their orthodontic treatment. Although adults made up a larger portion of the market segment in a market report by research firm the Insight Partners, it is the teenage demographic that is expected to dominate the market share in the coming years.

Why stand-alone practices are so successful

The GVR report also surveyed market growth according to end-use segments: stand-alone practices, group practices, hospitals and others. During the 2021 evaluation period, stand-alone practices made up over 50% of the market, totalling US$1.7 billion in revenue, and the report predicted an increase in the coming years. A report by market research company Fact.MR said that freedom of operation and reduced administrative load have facilitated this market growth. The same report also said that group practices are going to see tremendous growth, as high as 36% CAGR, by 2032.

Technological advances

Thanks to advancements in both manufacturing and 3D technology, more dental practices than ever before are able to offer their patients orthodontic treatment with clear aligners. Instead of having to rely on traditional moulding materials that are cumbersome for both practitioner and patient, near-instant 3D scans can be taken of a patient’s oral cavity, and exact movement of each tooth can be planned faster than ever with the aid of software and artificial intelligence. Improvements in thermoforming plastic technology mean that a practice can provide its own branded clear aligner product in the same day, fabricated in-house or by a local laboratory, making clear aligners far more time-saving than the multiple appointments required for fixed appliance evaluations and treatment.

More general dental practitioners are eager to start offering aligner treatment using either their own branded aligners or aligners from a larger company. Dental Tribune International spoke with clinic manager Cali Kaltschmidt about the benefits of offering self-branded aligners. Aside from being able to offer same-day replacements, clinics who invest in producing their own aligners provide expedited start to treatment, better compatibility with fixed appliances for hybrid treatments, and even full aligner systems within the same day or week.

Companies like Candid and Align offer remote consultation and outsourced management of the entire orthodontic treatment. Some treatment systems permit self-reporting by patients submitting photographs via an app from home instead of coming into the practice for treatment progress checks. Companies like DentalMonitoring provide a basic tool that holds a smartphone in exactly the right position for clear imaging at home. In addition to software that uses artificial intelligence to help practitioners prioritise treatment needs, such tools make it easier than ever for clinicians to add clear aligners to their service offering.

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