The Cosmetic Dentistry Roundtable

Jan. 1, 2002

Leaders in aesthetic dentistry and materials share their insights and knowledge.

This is the first of several discussions with the leading trendsetters in cosmetic dentistry. Our first discussion is with Robert A. Ganley, president of Ivoclar Vivadent, Inc. (North America). Ganley helped define aesthetic dentistry with the organization's "Welcome to the Esthetic Revolution" campaign in the mid-1990s. His visionary approach to dental teamwork has earned him distinction as one of the industry's most dynamic chief executives. Ganley holds an MBA degree from the University at Buffalo and a bachelor's degree from St. Bonaventure University. He is affiliated with numerous dental, manufacturing, and trade associations. Ivoclar Vivadent is a leading supplier of comprehensive systems for dental practices and dental laboratories. Ganley may be reached at (800) 533-6825, ext. 2200, or by email at Robert.Ganley

Coincidentally, Dental Economics asked Mr. Ganley for his insights on the future of cosmetic dentistry just a few months after his address to the American Dental Trade Association (ADTA), where he delivered his "Future of Dentistry" report.

Dental Economics: Your company coined the phrase, "The Esthetic Revolution," with its launch of IPS Empress® ceramic. Do you think the revolution is still going or has it slowed down?

Ganley: I don't think it has slowed down; I think it has broadened. It started with ceramic (metal-free) materials, but now aesthetics has become as important as form and function in the treatment process. The Esthetic Revolution has expanded to PFM restorations, direct restorations, even removable. Fundamentally, high-quality, aesthetic dentistry is better dentistry because it is what the patient wants.

Dental Economics: To what do you attribute this expansion?

Ganley: The Esthetic Revolution is the result of the convergence of three important points:

  • Patients are expecting better aesthetics. Patients have become consumers — consumers who are more informed and better educated with raised expectation levels across the board.
  • Dentists are looking for increased financial and creative satisfaction.
  • Product advances have made reliable, aesthetic dentistry possible.

Dental Economics: Your company has been a leader in bringing cosmetic dental products to the marketplace. How do you plan to maintain that leadership?

Ganley: First and foremost, we will continue to research and develop products such as IPS Empress®, which will have a positive impact on dentistry.

Education and partnerships are the next critical elements. We will host educational programs and work closely with training institutes and postgraduate programs. We will expand our partnerships with labs and dentists to look for exciting ways to get the message out to the consumer. These include multimedia ads, direct mail, free samples, seminar sponsorships, and consumer programs.

Dental Economics: It has been said that the economy is in recession. Is this affecting the Esthetic Revolution? Is it affecting your business?

Ganley: It is clear that recessions do affect our industry. It has been our experience, however, that the industry tends to enter recessions later than the rest of the economy, and not as deeply. As a result, the Esthetic Revolution helps our business and the industry by appealing to different market segments and creating increased value to the consumer.

Dental Economics: Your company is very involved in products for cosmetic dentistry. What do you see as the next breakthrough product?

Ganley: Improved metal-free materials — highly aesthetic without compromising strength. Certainly, we'll see continuing progress in CAD/CAM fabrication of nonmetal materials not available today.

Dental Economics: Based on the dental industry trend of an ever-smaller number of providers, how do you plan to increase your business?

Ganley: By increasing and expanding access and demand for dental care. Fully 50 percent of the population has never been to the dentist. This must change. In addition, dentistry must go where the people are. We are working with the ADA and the ADTA to increase access by providing dentists and labs new tools for improved communications to the public. Just like in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, we must raise interest in dentistry through greater exposure.

We also must work to create greater value to the consumer that goes beyond the traditional "fix it, it hurts" perception of dentistry. It is clear that dentistry provides services that eveyone needs, but more than half of the population only utilizes its services under duress.

The industry's aversion to self-promotion has left us with at best a patch quilt of independent messages, and at worst the inability to create future value in the minds of the consumer. And the tragedy is that along with cancer screening, exciting research, preventive options, cosmetic procedures, and many other topics, we have outstanding stories to tell.

Dental Economics: What percentage of the current dental work force is doing cosmetic dentistry?

Ganley: The figures are often debated; however, according to available data, more than 80 percent of practices are doing metal-free restorations, and more than 90 percent are doing bleaching procedures.

The data also indicates that, of these practices, 15 to 20 percent of the total procedures done are all-ceramic. So there is tremendous growth potential there. Raising consumer awareness will continue to drive demand.

Dental Economics: Over the next 10 years, it is predicted that we will see a tremendous influx of women into dentistry. How do you see this unfolding, and how will it affect your company?

Ganley: Women tend to accept new technologies faster than men. Women have embraced intraoral cameras and digital imaging much faster, for example. In 1998, 35 to 40 percent of dental school graduates were women.

The percentage will continue to increase, and this will continue to drive changes in dentistry. We already are seeing changes and improvements in ergonomics and instrumentation.

Dental Economics: That's tremendous. What other demographic changes do you see occurring?

Ganley: American demographics are changing dramatically. With the fast growth of the Asian and Hispanic populations, by 2020 there will be no ethnic majority. There will be more than 200,000 people in America over the age of 100, and 20 percent of the population will be over the age of 65.

In accordance with these trends, the marketplace also will change dramatically. The demand for products and services will have to diversify and expand to meet the demand. Education will play a critical role in reaching the consumer and improving the oral health of the country.

In addition to demographic changes, there also are attitude changes evident in the rise of a "new consumer." Just as in the health-care model, the new dental consumers will behave more like active, informed decision-makers and less like passive recipients of care.

Dental Economics: How do you see your company and aesthetic dentistry in the future?

Ganley: Aesthetic dentistry is the future, and Ivoclar Vivadent will continue to be a leader in providing quality aesthetic materials. We also will lead in providing dentists and labs with strong education programs and new tools for improved communications with patients. By emphasizing the importance of quality and aesthetics, we can create greater value to the patient and continued growth for dentistry.

As Dr. Pete Dawson said, "The final quality check is aesthetics."

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