The US Medical and Dental markets have done better than other industries during the recession. The medical market sees ever increasing demand and the dental market is expected to continue to outstrip Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for at least the next five years.
Both markets are changing, and at least in part due to the same factors. The population is growing, but also aging. The baby boomer generation, which makes up 28% of the US population, is entering retirement. These people have grown up with high expectations of medical and dental services and with a lot of knowledge about keeping healthy. The growth in media sources has meant that knowledge is spread quickly.
Technology is also helping to change the nature of the medical and dental markets. Illnesses and medical conditions are being diagnosed earlier, more easily, and more cost effectively. Advances in dentistry technology have allowed people to keep more of the own teeth and to move away from full dental replacement. According the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, new procedures such as dental implants provide a more natural looking and secure method of replacing teeth.
Improved technology has had an effect not just on treatment in dental and medical markets, but on the markets they feed. There is a huge range of toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, whitening products, and everything an individual needs for oral health.
The market for health products is also big business. Everything from band-aids to blood pressure monitoring devices to kits to test blood sugar levels.
At the same time, there has been a decline in the amounts that insurance companies and employers pay towards medical expenses. This may encourage people to become more informed and take more responsibility for their own health, yet there is a worrying trend that shows ever more people are developing type 2 diabetes, which causes many linked health issues.
There may be a future impact in supply of new doctors, nurses, dentists and dental technicians and hygienists coming into the field, as a result of increasing costs to studying and curbs on immigration. However, the advances in technology may minimize the impact should this happen.
One area of both markets that has seen great expansion is the cosmetic side. The increase in knowledge available through the internet and other media has also led to different expectations about how a person looks, and how medical professionals can alter a person’s features on any part of their body.
TV and movies show people with perfect, white teeth, so the cosmetic dentist is seeing increased demand for services. Teeth whitening systems are available to all from a drugstore or supermarket, but dentists offer the perfect smile, from teeth straightening to veneers, and at a lower cost than cosmetic surgery to the body. And there is even more to come. The future of cosmetic dentistry will offer work and implants that can hardly be distinguished from the natural teeth, will not need replacing and will become more cost effective.