The recession is tough on teeth

August 17, 2009

Child winces as dental hygienist checks teeth

The U.S. economy isn’t giving dentists many reasons to smile yet, an annual survey of the profession by JPMorgan has found.

  • 84 percent of dentists said the economy was having a negative or strongly negative impact on their practices.
  • 74 percent said they think the economy will continue to weigh on their businesses 12 months out.

Dental Equipment growth JPMorgan

This economic caution could continue to put pressure on big-ticket dental equipment sales, JPMorgan said. As a result, the latest in 3D X-ray equipment is a hard sell, despite its key selling point of being able to show a patient’s bone density.

The survey only talked to 100 dentists, but at least there’s some baseline comparisons. JPMorgan talked to similar numbers of endo-, ortho and perio-dontists and other tooth doctors in 2008 and 2006.

  • 49 percent of dentists responding said revenue from cosmetic procedures had declined. Those with lower revenue reported a decline of 23.5 percent, on average. Only 15 percent said they recently had more cosmetic business compared with last year.
  • 42 percent of respondents polled said their practices suffered a revenue decrease in the month of June compared to a year ago, while 34 percent enjoyed an increase that month and 24 percent saw no change.

Dental visits chart - JPMorgan

You know we have entered the dead of August when Wall Street analysts who follow electrical equipment conglomerates like 3M and Danaher publish deep-dive looks at how the dental profession is holding up. Still, the analysts note, dental sales generate 15 percent of Danaher sales and bring in a little less than 5 percent of 3M’s business.

(Sources: Photo: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi; Charts: JPMorgan report)

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