Demographic change in the dental laboratory - from contractors to partnership as equals
The catchword “demographic change” can be heard again and again in a wide variety of contexts, and the dental industry is no exception. Basically, a change does not have to be something bad. It is important to recognize it and to actively counteract it in order not to miss the time and necessity for one's own change.
Demographic change in the dental sector
A constantly falling birth rate and higher life expectancy mean that the proportion of older people in industrialized countries is increasing sharply. The median age in Europe is 43.1 years on average, in Germany it is even 46 years. This means that almost every fourth person belongs to the age group "60 and older" - and the trend is rising.
Dental health has reached a new level
Due to the increased health awareness in the population, especially concerning dental health, and at the same time due to the secure financial situation of the "best agers", there is a change in the demand for dentures. Dental care only becomes relevant in old age, but then high-quality and aesthetically pleasing dentures, such as implant-supported and superstructures, are used and, if necessary, these are also paid for privately.
On the one hand, the demand is falling because the population's awareness of oral hygiene and health is increasing, and on the other hand, the demand is increasing because dentures are currently an issue, especially among the baby boomer generation.
For the moment, therefore, the baby boomer generation is offsetting the decline in volume due to improved oral health. However, if you look at the population development over the last few years, this fact will not continue.
Lack of specialists in dental laboratories
Another burden that demographic change entails for the dental industry is the impending shortage of skilled workers in the dental technician profession. At the turn of the century, around 45% of dental technicians were under 35 years old. Just 15 years later it was only 25% - and this trend is continuing.
Demographic change offers dental laboratories the opportunity to reposition themselves
You are now wondering to what extent such a development can be seen as an opportunity and how you can actively counteract it?
The aesthetic demands among patients are increasing and with them the number of lucrative jobs in the dental laboratory. While health insurance often only allows for the bare essentials, there are hardly any limits to creativity and aesthetics for dental technicians when it comes to private services. This brings with it many degrees of freedom and thus requires intensive advice for practitioners and patients.
This also applies to backward planning, among other things. We also call this process three-dimensional intelligent planning (3DIP). It supports laboratories and dental practices in acquiring implant work. In fact, this type of implant planning, which promises an implant treatment with the help of only a minimally invasive procedure, also brings only advantages for patients and raises communication between the dental practice and the laboratory to a new level.
In addition, dental technicians have expertise in the constantly growing material and technology jungle and can also offer this important consulting service at this point.
Dental laboratories are changing from mere contractors to equal partners for dental practices.
Due to the growing proportion of self-paying patients and the resulting increase in market power of patients, the price pressure that laboratories have to face is increasing. Globalization and digitization also cause falling prices. In addition, the shortage of skilled workers caused by demographic change is a burden for many laboratories.
The market is already reacting to this and changes, including in the structure of laboratories, can be already seen. In order to be able to cover the entire range of dentures despite the shortage of skilled workers, more and more laboratories are joining forces to form laboratory chains. But even smaller companies are not helplessly exposed to change. You can counteract the shortage of skilled workers, for example, with a production center as a reliable partner.
Our experts are well trained, always up to date, especially with regard to materials and technologies, and are happy to pass on their know-how to you. With the frameworks manufactured by us as the basis for your work, you can also concentrate entirely on the lucrative work in your dental laboratory.