Would Post-Covid-19 Scenario “Clear” the Sky for “Clear Aligners”?

Date : Sep 11, 2020 Author : PMR Editorial Staff Category : Healthcare

Clear aligners come across as a group of custom-made, tight-fitting orthodontic systems or mouthpieces that prove to be useful in getting the crooked or misaligned teeth in place. “Clear Aligners”, as the name suggests, are a feasible and removable alternative to the braces and revolve around the flexibility and convenience of the patient.

Being virtually discreet, they add to the “convenient look and feel” of the patient (in terms of his/her teeth). The factors mainly driving the clear aligners market include the technological upgradations regarding dental treatment, ever-increasing patient population infected with malocclusions, and call for customized clear aligners.

The other technological advancements are inclusive of additive fabrication, 3D impression systems, digital scanning technology, nickel and copper-titanium wires, CAM/CAD appliances, incognito lingual braces, temporary anchorage devices. As such, the orthodontic treatments are being made more effective, predictable, and efficient.

iTero, a digital impression system by Align Technology, is helping in development of customized and precise clear aligner systems for treating moderate level of misalignment. As per the WHO, dental caries, periodontal disease, and malocclusion are the three commonly occurring dental diseases across the globe. Furthermore, it states that periodic surveillance of oral diseases needs to be carried out to ensure proper planning and treatment. Malocclusion has been included under “Handicapping Dentofacial Anomaly” herein.

The SMR Journal of Research says that malocclusion’s prevalence is as follows:

  • Columbia – 88%
  • Saudi Arabia – 62.4%
  • US – 20-35%
  • India – 20-43%

The newly introduced invisible braces are being used by several orthodontists for correcting crooked teeth, overbites, and several other “oral” flaws. Initially, invisible orthodontics was used only for treating acute problems. However, the current scenario is such that Class 1 and Class II cases related to misalignment are being treated by clear aligner system.

Virtual design models, thermoformed plastic materials such as polycarbonate plastic or copolyester, CAD-CAM, and virtual digital models are being used for developing clear aligners. Ceramic and metal braces that were used previously result in long term insensitivity. Clear aligners, on the contrary, look after the wearer’s comfort and flexibility. On the scale of comfortability and aesthetic appeal, the clear aligner technology overpowers fixed appliances.

Some of the popular brands of clear aligners include Inman Aligner, Invisalign, Clear Correct, and Smart Moves. At the same time, it needs to be noted that limited/no insurance coverage on dental treatments, dearth of skilled dentists in the emerging countries, and, above all – the exorbitant price of clear aligners are likely to act as restraints to the clear aligners market.

Impact of Covid-19 on Clear Aligner (Invisible Braces) Market

The outbreak of Covid-19 has halted the world in general and clear aligner (invisible braces) market in particular. Sustenance in all forms has turned out to be the “new” normal. The basic parameter of this sustenance is “survival of the fittest”. People are more into improving their immunity rather than going for the dental embellishments.

The trend mentioned above is expected to continue atleast till the end of 2020. Though the year 2021 promises new beginnings with restoration of the previous ones, the economy is not expected to recover from the turbulence so soon. People will opt for dental beauty care after they are stable on the count of basic needs. With joblessness setting new records every single day, clear aligners are turning out to be a lop-sided priority. So, it could be concluded that the clear aligners market, though projected to grow at the rate of more than 5% between 2020 and 2030, could see this happening in real time only after a year or two.

Competitive Landscape

The key players in the clear aligners market include CDB Corp., Tenco Orthodontic Products, GC Orthodontics, G&H Orthoddontics, Forestadent Bernhard Forster GmbH, American Orthodontics, Adenta GmBH, and 3M.

How would the Geographies Respond?

North America held more than 50% of the total market share in the year 2019. This could be attributed to the fact that around 85% of the people in the US do value dental health and look upon oral health as a necessary aspect. This data comes from American Dental Association. However, the slowdown due to Covid-19 will result in petulance on this part. From 2021, we could see something on the normal lines coming up.

Europe comes in second in line with the US. Asia-Pacific would grow quick post Covid-19, as people will start re-looking at the dental aesthetics part once economy re-kickstarts in the developing countries.

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