Cosmetic trend taking a backseat in US clinics

America's dental industry is showing a downturn in demand for high-end aesthetic treatment, show first quarter reports from dental firms.
Cosmetic trend taking a backseat in US clinics
By Joanne Bladd
Fri 13 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

America's dental industry is showing a downturn in demand for high-end aesthetic treatment, show first quarter reports from dental firms.

Companies including 3M Co, Danaher Corp and Henry Schein Inc reported slower sales of orthodontics and crowns, suggesting the national trend for elective dentistry may be reaching a plateau.

In a first-quarter conference call to reporters, Bret Wise, chief executive of manufacturer Dentsply International Inc, admitted: "Market growth has slowed in higher-end discretionary procedures."

At Danaher, where dental products excluding equipment accounted for about 8% of the company's US$11.03 billion in 2007 revenue, first-quarter dental revenue was flat, in part due to the slowdown in sales of more expensive procedures, the company acknowledged in a conference call.

Birner Dental Management Services Inc runs a network of dental practices in North America. Board member Brooks O'Neil said the company has seen a greater than 10% reduction in demand for crowns and bridges this year.

3M saw the same slowdown in discretionary treatments, the company said on its conference call. And at Henry Schein, North American sales of products such as veneers and crowns were up only 4.3% in the first quarter, a significant decline from prior growth rates as high as 9%, Robert W. Baird analyst Jeff Johnson said.

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