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Experts say that an ongoing trend in the digital dentistry market is the growth of dental 3D printers and intra-oral scanners. (Image: Elena Butor/Shutterstock)

Digital dentistry market: 3D printers and intra-oral scanners drive market growth in Europe

By Dr Kamran Zamanian
June 14, 2021

The European digital dentistry market, which includes CAD/CAM systems, CAD/CAM materials and dental 3D printers, is projected to experience double-digit growth reaching over €1.4 billion ($ 1.7 billion) by 2027, as digital technologies have begun to revolutionise the European dental prosthetics market reaching into the foreseeable future. This will be driven by strong market growth in the intra-oral scanner and dental 3D printing space.

One of the major drivers in the European digital dentistry market is the increasing preference for digital impressions rather than conventional ones. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, safety has become a top priority in dental clinics and laboratories, forcing many businesses to introduce digital technologies for better control of infection risk. The adoption of CAD/CAM and 3D printing reduces human interaction and makes the process of sending impressions digitally easier. Furthermore, many of these technologies have the potential to offer seamless workflows, which can drive their faster adoption in the future.

Although the majority of dental impressions are still fabricated using conventional methods, it is expected that the number of prostheses fabricated using these methods will decrease over the coming years. This decrease will give way to an increased use of digital technologies such as CAD/CAM for producing dental prostheses. Whereas dental prosthetic procedures in the past used to take several dental visits, it is now possible to complete dental treatments within the same day using chairside CAD/CAM systems. This flexibility and the increased efficiency provided by digital technologies are likely to accelerate its market growth over the coming years.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact across the European dental prosthetics and digital dentistry markets. Within the digital dentistry market, CAD/CAM materials have sustained the hardest hit owing to the pandemic. As elective dental procedures were postponed during the peak months of the pandemic, the ability of manufacturers to sell CAD/CAM blocks and discs was substantially reduced, leading to a drop in market revenue. Furthermore, the market for CAD/CAM systems led by companies such as Dentsply Sirona, 3Shape, Amann Girrbach, Ivoclar Vivadent, Straumann, Carestream and Envista declined over the last year owing to the suspension of major dental exhibitions, such as Expodental (in Spain).

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on the dental 3D-printing market. Although market growth slowed during the early onset of the pandemic, the sales of 3D printers are increasing rapidly now that the pandemic is getting closer to being stabilised. In addition, digital technologies, such as 3D printers and intra-oral scanners, offer better control of contamination risk, and this has already started to drive sales and will continue to do so in the near future.

There has been an increasing trend towards the adoption of 3D printing and intra-oral scanners in digital dentistry, and Scandinavian countries and Portugal have been the most aggressive countries in Europe to embrace the new technologies. Rapidly improving technology and enhancements in materials are expected to boost market growth in these areas. Moreover, growth in these areas is likely to slow down the milling system market.

In the past few years, there has been a surge of competitors, such as Formlabs, in the dental 3D-printing market space. These have introduced several affordable solutions, thereby depressing the average selling price (ASP) of prosthetics. Other notable competitors in this space are 3D Systems, Stratasys, Asiga, Rapid Shape, EnvisionTEC, among many others.

The demand for better quality and reliability continues to increase, stabilising the ASP over the foreseeable future, thereby driving the market value potential of dental 3D printers.

Overall, it is expected that the European digital dentistry market and the dental prosthetics market will continue to grow considerably over the foreseeable future. The increased sales of intra-oral scanners and dental 3D printers along with a rising elderly population are expected to drive the growth of the dental prosthetics and digital dentistry market in Europe.

With improvements in technology offering better reliability, it is likely that the demand for digital technologies in dentistry is going to be higher than in the past. Furthermore, better safety and infection control offered by digital technologies is likely to drive their adoption in the future. Ultimately, the European digital dentistry market is expected to grow at a cumulative growth rate of 13.6% between 2020 and 2027, with the total market value reaching €1.4 billion ($ 1.7 billion).

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