An Interview with Bailey
Randy Bailey, President of Shofu Dental Corporation, says it is important for laboratories to partner with vendors that offer the best products and services.
Inside Dental Technology: How do you envision the dental industry in 5 years?
Randy Bailey: One major change in the dental industry in recent years has been, and will continue to be, the proliferation of group practices. Rising supply costs, increased government regulations, competitive labor markets, and the growing influence of dental service organizations (DSOs) are all key factors behind this trend. Student-debt load for graduating dentists is another underlying aspect.
From a retail perspective, growing consumerism increases patients’ expectations for dental care and impacts their spending habits. Today’s consumers are better educated, more discerning in their choices, and vocal about what they want in their dental care experience.
The issue for dental laboratories is that owners continue to be pressured by their demanding dental clients for esthetic solutions at a lower cost. In response, some laboratory owners consolidate or form a purchasing group powerful enough to obtain discounted pricing on supplies and equipment; others integrate vertically to boost efficiencies. Private equity firms have also merged laboratories together in hopes of increasing their value through more efficient marketing and manufacturing models.
Heading in a different direction are smaller laboratories—boutique laboratories engaged in highly artistic complex restorations, and laboratories performing quality work at a lower price tag. These two types of laboratories make up the majority of Shofu’s client base. To stay viable amidst the changing environment, today’s laboratories operate in a more collaborative manner.
IDT: Speaking of dental laboratories, what other significant changes are occurring in this market?
RB: CAD/CAM automation will continue to dominate the industry. In the last decade, CAD/CAM has evolved at such a dramatic pace that it is likely that integration and communication between different CAD/CAM devices and systems will become the industry norm. Furthermore, the use of CAD/CAM technologies opens doors to the implementation of other advancements, such as the 3D printing. In a dental laboratory, this technology can be applied to a board spectrum of applications, including fabrication of removable dentures and models for laboratories and milling centers.
Typically, the integration of CAD/CAM technology into a dental practice requires substantial financial capital and commitment, and is associated with a longer learning curve. However, larger group practices with substantial human resources and financial backing are in a better position to embrace new technologies.
IDT: How can laboratories differentiate themselves from their competitors in the current business environment?
RB: Laboratories can help dental practices build a value proposition based on time, quality, cost, efficiency, education, technical competence, and other value-added benefits.
Laboratories can also compete by partnering with vendors that offer the best products and services on the market. Shofu is renowned for excellence in dental materials and abrasive technologies. Our legendary Vintage Porcelains, Ceramage Indirect Hybrid Restorative, and Veracia SA denture teeth provide technicians with the tools to create high-end esthetic solutions without compromising on the quality or straining the budget.
IDT: What changes are occurring in the denture market?
RB: Numerous factors are shifting the dynamic in the removable sector of dentistry. The major catalyst driving the expansion is the growing edentulous population demanding faster and more affordable esthetic solutions. The proliferation of digital technologies and continuous integration of implants into removable treatment modalities have also been playing an important role in facilitating this transition. Today, clinicians and laboratory technicians have access to many such alternatives with improved physical and mechanical properties, one of which is Trinia—a CAD/CAM fiber-reinforced composite.
IDT: Please tell us more about Trinia.
RB: First introduced in 2010, Trinia has been a remarkable clinical success. Engineered to meet the broad indications of clinical use, including fixed prostheses, bridges, dentures, and partial dentures, this resilient and ultralight biocompatible resin material provides a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to metal bars cast in semi-precious and precious metals or milled in titanium. Trinia is not only an excellent metal-free solution for a vast variety of applications; it also works extremely well with the Ceramage color system for optimal characterization of the restoration, and like Shofu’s other award-winning products will make an excellent contribution at the bench in a laboratory.