Aug 24, 2021 - Health

Dental care surges from pandemic lows

Sales for major dental equipment suppliers
Data: Company documents; Chart: Kavya Beheraj

People are back to cleaning and fixing their teeth.

The big picture: The coronavirus almost completely halted the operations of dentists and orthodontists last spring. But since then, sales of dental equipment and supplies have doubled over the past year as more people got vaccinated and returned to their dentists' offices.

What they're saying: Executives at dental distributor Henry Schein said patient traffic in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand is close to or above 2019 levels.

  • "We are at or near pre-pandemic growth rates," Patterson Companies CEO Mark Walchirk said in June. "Dentists continue investing in their practices."
  • The higher volumes have resulted in dentists and orthodontists ordering more dental implants, imaging machines, tools, teeth aligners, software and other supplies.

By the numbers: Dental revenue for four dominant manufacturers and suppliers — Align, Dentsply Sirona, Henry Schein and Patterson — was a combined $2.2 billion during the worst of the pandemic, and now combined sales are expected to surpass $4.6 billion a year later, according to data analyzed by Axios.

What to watch: The dental industry doesn't expect a repeat of layoffs and closures if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

  • "Even if the Delta variant kind of forces people to shut down, I think the dental community has learned to deal with that and proactively reach out to their patients and assure them about their safety," Dentsply Sirona CEO Don Casey told investors this month.
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