Clear Aligners Market
Global Industry Analysis (2018 – 2021) – Growth Trends and Market Forecast (2022 – 2026)
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Rise of Dental Aesthetics and Demand for Lesser Painful Dental Treatments Boost Clear Aligners Market
Clear aligners are typically touted as one of the most attractive areas in dentistry by many industry experts. A recent survey of the US workers finds that nearly 96% of respondents believe a pleasing smile is an important aesthetic feature. While metal braces have been the preferred treatment choice to achieve a perfect smile and aligned teeth, clear aligners continue to emerge popular on the back of rising negative sentiment against metal braces. The perception associated with braces includes significant discomfort and pain, which encourages a sizeable number of people to consider clear aligners as an alternative. Multiple clinical studies have exhibited that clear aligners are associated with lesser pain during the treatment.
The rise of clear aligners as a treatment method for misaligned teeth is poised for exponential growth. Various macro and microeconomic factors, viz. growth in disposable income, expansion and acceptance of aesthetic procedures, and procedural availability will contribute to the robust growth outlook of the global clear aligners market. ~75% people suffer from malocclusion or have crooked teeth. Global leader, the Straumann Group has revealed that clear aligners are a valid treatment option in ~60% (6 million out of 10 million) of orthodontic cases each year.
Clear Aligners Reflect High Growth Potential
Occlusal misalignment, desire for aesthetics, and functional disabilities compel people to seek effective orthodontic treatments. Clear aligners are being perceived as the fastest growth area in orthodontics today. Increasing attention to esthetics, deepening penetration within teens, digitizing workflow, increasing number of trained orthodontists and GPs, and rapid product improvement are the key growth levers for the global clear aligners market.
Approximately 20% of the US population realise deviation from the ideal bite and ~66% of the US adults have incisor irregularities. Despite the high need for treatment, only four million people in the US were estimated to wear orthodontic braces by 2020 and a mere 1–1.5 million clear aligner cases were started the same year. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was a clear impediment to market growth in 2020, the statistics clearly indicate the significant potential of clear aligners to develop a strong market.
Innovative Products on Fastrack FDA Approvals
On the other hand, product innovation is witnessing strong uptrend in recent times. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals for clear aligner production are fast-tracking post-2018. Prior to 2018, only one or two new producers were granted FDA 510(k) approvals for printing clear aligners. However, since 2018, ~40+ new producers have been approved by the FDA to print clear aligners – more than double those cleared in all years leading up to 2018, (21 approvals) combined. A few notable launches in 2018 included Dentsply Sirona’s SureSmile aligner with options including pay-peraligner and in-office DIY aligner, Henry Schein’s SLX clear aligners, and 3M Oral’s Clarity clear aligners.
North American Market Flourishes under All Favourable Circumstances
The North American market for clear aligners remained at the forefront of demand in global clear aligners landscape, accounting for more than 60% of the total market value in 2020. The US market is particularly performing better with higher penetration (~14-18%) vis-à-vis that of other markets (~5-8%). Moreover, North America houses ~10,500 orthodontists, and a significant number of target audience. However, the increasingly saturating orthodontist channel and overwhelming competition to capture the narrowed chunk of pie will remain a challenge to market growth in the US.
Asia Pacific exhibits robust market growth on the back of strong performance by developing economies such as China and India. China is emerging as a superfast regional contender after the US. Moreover, Projections reveal that the supply will heighten with over 100 aligner companies expected to be coming out of Asia in the next five years.
High Initial Capital and Lengthy Set-up Remain Longstanding Challenges Facing Clear Aligner Producers
Stereolithography (SLA) is the preferred technology to produce arches, although the cost of entry is high. The process is equally complex and demands extensive set-up and skilled technicians to operate. This multi-step process is error-prone as requires curing, and further tends to expose technicians to toxic resins. High initial expenditure on printers makes it difficult to fund without a built-in market prior to purchase, which remains a significant entry barrier to producers. Scaling up of the process is also challenging with high underlying cost of procurement. As of now, high-volume, economically viable, user-friendly alternatives are scarce in the clear aligners market.
On the other hand, COVID-19 pandemic posed a unique short-term risk. As an elective treatment, clear aligner therapy bears an outsized risk to the potential lingering effects of the disease outbreak, viz. lowering discretionary spending for longer period and preventing orthodontic offices from reopening for months.
Third-party 3D Printing Labs and Proliferation of New Software Options to Intensify Market Competition
Third-party 3d printing labs are making inroads among dentists and orthodontists displacing established dental players. In-house printing provides significant cost benefit over enterprise systems. Also, in-house printing gives orthodontists a greater autonomy over the process, allowing faster and easier execution of the treatment with substantially fewer patient visits.
Proliferation of newer software would be instrumental to the competition landscape in form of 3D printing infrastructure. Tech innovation companies are starting to disrupt major barrier by pushing 3D printer adoption among orthodontists. A classic example of uLab Systems – a lesser-known developer of aligner CAD/CAM software developing in-house 3D printing is a practical option for a broad range of doctors.
Align Technology Inc Riding Strong on the Back of Invisalign Legacy
Align Technology Inc. is a clear market leader capturing a significant chunk of the global clear aligners market value. The top position is mainly owing to the dominance of Invisalign for more than two decades. As of 2020, Invisalign has earned US$ 2.3 Bn in revenue and catered to more than 6 million patients, and still counting.
3M, Institute Straumann AG, Dentsply Siroa, Henry schein Inc., Danaher Corporation, Argen Corporation, and Ormco Corporation are some of the most prominent players actively participating in the global clear aligner market landscape.