Recently there has been some interesting – and I think encouraging, from a business perspective – news regarding the current state of oral health care in Australia, the current business conditions for health practitioners in Australia and the outlook for medical/dental companies in the medium to longer term.
With regard to the current state of oral health care in Australia, the ABC published an update to an article first published in March 2018 entitled “Dental report finds only half of all Australian’s brush their teeth twice a day”. Key findings are that 90% of all Australian adults have some sort of tooth decay, the extent to which smoking and drinking contribute to poor oral health and that 75% of all children consume too much sugar. So despite the best efforts of oral health promotion over the years, including the millions of dollars spent by toothpaste manufacturers, there remains a strong underlying demand for dentistry.
This strong underlying demand for dentistry was also highlighted in a report from Zacks, a leading investment company in the US. In their report ‘Medical-dental Supplies Outlook, Long-term prospects bright’, Zacks make the point that despite this sector performing poorly over the last 12 months, relative to their peers and the market overall, whilst needing to remain cautious the continuing growth in demand for orthodontics and aesthetic needs (particularly implants driven by increase in disposable income, an ageing population and poor life style choices impacting on oral care) are likely to be very positive drivers for the sector in the future.
And a similar theme was evident in the NAB Health Practitioners Survey published in August 2018, “While periodontic disease remains our most important oral health issue, over half of all dental practitioners believe the cosmetic concerns will emerge as the next big issue. Social economic status is expected to overtake poor oral hygiene and diet as the biggest cause of oral health-related issues over the next decade.” This survey also found that oral health practitioners are confident to be investing in capital equipment and reported positive business conditions and confidence over the past 6 months (notably stronger than the broader economy).
Whilst these three pieces of research may simply be reinforcing my confirmation bias, the breadth of the research reported by the ABC (surprising) and the NAB give me some confidence, from a social conscious perspective regrettably, that the underlying fundamentals of the business we operate in are sound and that we have the opportunity to build on our foundation as a privately owned company that has been operating for more than 82 years, helping oral health care professionals in Australia and New Zealand to provide the best possible care.