Dental Investing: Understand What Patients Need & Invest in Those Products

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Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only, and you should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. The information, opinions, and views contained in this article are current only as of the date the article was written. All investment strategies and investments involve risk of loss. Any reference to an investment’s past or potential performance is not, and should not be construed as, a recommendation or as a guarantee of any specific outcome or profit.

Before finishing my first novel and very early in my writing career, a very wise mentor told me, “Write what you know.” At the time, this meant to write my novel in a format with which I was familiar. I knew murder mysteries. I had voraciously consumed a murder mystery a week for many years, often having stacks of used books ready in the wings by my nightstand.

When it came time to invest, that same advice danced around in my mind. However, maybe it’s not enough to invest in what you know. Invest in what you need.

With the perfect storm of a market drop from COVID-19 shutdowns and the surge of new, commission-free trading platforms like Robinhood, the stock market saw record numbers of novice investors dabbling for the first time in March and April during 2020.1 Stock prices were low, making it palatable for the younger crowd to get involved. Investors in their twenties and thirties were throwing their dollars into the ring to see how they might fare if the market surged back again.

Those amateurs were in such numbers, though, that they were actually moving markets.2 The sheer amount of amateur investors skewed some market gurus’ ability to predict what was happening. One such expert, a chief market strategist, commented that this phenomenon “makes no fundamental sense to anybody.”2

Dentistry and Technology

One thing is for sure, and if we have learned anything about the markets in the past year, it is that tech stocks are hot. Dentistry is no stranger to technology. The three leading tech advances made in dentistry are computer-aided design/manufacture (nicknamed CAD/CAM) 3D scanners, cloud-based software systems allowing users to log on from anywhere, and wider use of the CBCT for 3D radiography.

The CAD/CAM scanners are used for aligner scans, as well as for restorative and prosthetic fabrication in place of impressions. They can allow for the same-day fabrication of metal-free restorations milled in-office, eliminating the need for an outside lab or a second appointment. The cloud-based software systems are allowing for more users to be logged onto the same network at once, eliminating the need for individual licenses per computer. Finally, the CBCT is allowing for more comprehensive evaluations and increased accuracy for implant placements and root canal therapies.

It is important to note that some popular dental scanners are made by outside companies that are either not traded publicly or traded on foreign exchanges. These outside companies will not be included in the list below as they are not available on U.S. exchanges. These companies include Carestream Dental, Planmeca, Midmark, D4D Technologies, and 3Shape. All of the following share prices are as of morning figures on Monday, January 11, 2021.

1) 3M listed on the NYSE as MMM. $166/share. 5-year growth − up 19.7%.

What doesn’t 3M sell? They supply just about everything for restorative, including composites, cements, adhesives, impression/temporary materials, implant parts, and stainless-steel crowns.3 For preventive care, they supply whitening materials, masks, eyewear, varnishes, and more. They do not sell their own independent CAD/CAM scanner, but rather sold their 3M True Definition scanner to Midmark in 2019.3 Midmark is not a publicly traded company.

It might also be important to note that Henry Schein, 3M, and Planmeca companies are all in agreement with D4D Technologies for exclusive E4D CAD/CAM materials.4 The E4D CAD/CAM device can mill a crown, inlay, onlay, or veneer from a scan in the office in 20 minutes, thus eliminating the need for a second appointment and removing the need for a temporary in between appointments.6 It also eliminates lab fees, as it is made right in the office with a milling device that uses burs to immediately design the restoration.4,6 It still needs to be glazed and fired, which takes additional time.6

2) Henry Schein listed on the NASDAQ as HSIC. $72/share. 5-year growth − up 25.20%.

Again, Henry Schein is part of that agreement with 3M and D4D Technologies for exclusive E4D CAD/CAM materials.6 They are also in partnership with Ivoclar Vivadent, which offers PrograMill One. This is 5-axis turn-milling machine that can fabricate e.max and zirconia restorations including bridges.18

Henry Schein offers the following scanners: 3Shape TRIOS, Planmeca Emerald, Midmark True Definition, and Kulzer cara i500.7 Schein owns Dentrix Enterprise, PerioVision, EndoVision, OMSVision, and Easy Dental software systems. They supply caries-detecting devices, including CariVu, Soprocare, Spectra, and Doc IRIS or Doc LUM sub-enamel illumination devices. They supply diode lasers, intraoral cameras, panoramic/cephalometric and CBCT units, as well as digital x-ray sensors from Dentsply Sirona, Gendex, Dexis, Midmark, KaVo Kerr, and Planmeca.

They also supply operatory needs like stools, workstations, chairs, lights, mobile dental equipment, nitrous oxide systems, etc.7

3) Align Technology listed on the NASDAQ as ALGN. $559/share. 5-year growth − up 833.9%.

Align Technology owns the rights to many patents involving Invisalign brand clear aligners, as well as the iTero family of scanning products.8 They are a powerhouse in the clear aligner world. Align Technology has a long history of suing other companies for alleged patent infringements, including 3Shape and SmileDirectClub.9

Align also owns Clincheck Pro 6.0 system, a cloud-based treatment planning platform allowing users to log in anywhere, anytime.8

4) Patterson Companies, Inc. listed on the NASDAQ as PDCO. $32/share. 5-year growth − down 20.4%.

Patterson supplies just about anything you need in the world of orthodontics, restorative, endodontics, or preventive dentistry, ranging from adhesives to burs, prophy paste, varnish, sealants, etc. Their vendor partners include 3Shape, A-dec, Air Techniques, Biotec, Dentsply Sirona, Ivoclar Vivadent, KaVo Kerr imaging, Midmark, and Planmeca among others.10

They own Eaglesoft practice management software, Fuse cloud-based software, and Dolphin orthodontic software. They offer CEREC Primescan AC CAD/CAM device with a mill for same-day restorations, including the fabrication of zirconia crowns in as little as 10 minutes.10,11

5) Dentsply Sirona listed on the NASDAQ as XRAY. $58/share. 5-year growth − up 2.7%.

Dentsply Sirona manufactures just about anything needed for endodontics, orthodontics, implant dentistry, preventive, and restorative. From ultrasonic scaling units, air-powder polishers, instruments, direct and indirect restoration materials, burs, handpieces, motors/turbines, attachments, and even whitening products, they are a staple dental company.12 They manufacture the CEREC Primescan AC system offered by Patterson Companies, Inc.10

6) Danaher Corporation listed on the NYSE as DHR. $242/share. 5-year growth − up 274.8%.

Danaher is a medical company that manufactures tools and medical devices. It once encompassed a large dental division that broke into a separate company and went public as Envista Holdings Corporation in September 2019.13 Danaher Corporation still plays a large role in diagnostic tools and even acquired Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) in 2018, which is now a major player in COVID-19 testing.13

7) Envista Holdings Corporation listed on the NYSE as NVST. $35/share. 5-year growth − N/A (listed in September 2019 but up 21.7% since the initial public offering).

Operating under Envista Holdings Corporation and once a subsidiary of Danaher Corp. is Nobel Biocare, Implant Direct, Orascoptic, iCat, KaVo Kerr, and Ormco. This group of companies manufacturers everything from Damon clear orthodontic brackets, archwires, bands, adhesives, curing lights, sleep apnea devices, aligners, dental chairs, Gendex and Dexis digital x-ray sensors, intraoral cameras, Cari-Vu, Dexis imaging software, iCat digital scanners, KaVo X500 scanners, bone grafts, implant parts, instruments, handpieces, and implant abutments.14-17

In Closing

How is dentistry growing, and how can we adapt and grow along with it? I can see an age where hygienists are doing same-day aligner scans right in their hygiene chairs for those patients who have had ortho in the past but have a little bit of relapse. I can see hygienists adding more and more to our repertoire of skills and continually making it more convenient for the patient to get what they need and when they need it.

Even if you don’t plan on investing, it is important to be familiar with publicly traded dental companies. As someone on the inside of this niche market, knowing what is coming down the pipeline is important, and using these new innovations to our advantage is always the main goal. At the end of the day, we need to constantly ask ourselves: How can we be more beneficial to the practice? And the patient? How can we help?

If you are looking to invest but don’t know where to start, investing in what you know might be a good place to start.

Now Listen to the Today’s RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast Below:


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