7 Trends Set to Shape the Dental Industry in 2024

7 Trends Set to Shape the Dental Industry in 2024 image

From 3D printing to artificial intelligence, Avant Dental reveals the seven key trends that are set to shape the dental industry in 2024.

As a busy dental professional, we don’t need to tell you that the dental industry moves fast. Technological advancements and new techniques quickly change the game, and it can be a challenge to keep up. That’s why Avant Dental is here to do the leg work for you. And we’re gearing up for a big 2024. 

Building on our trip to the 2023 International Dental Show in Germany, Avant will be strengthening our commitment to bringing the latest technology advancements to dentists in Australia with fact-finding missions to the China Dental Show 2024 in Shanghai, the 2024 International Dental Exhibition & Meeting (IDEM) in Singapore, and The Chicago Dental Society 2024 Midwinter Meeting.  

Closer to home, ADX returns to Sydney and Melbourne in 2024, and Avant will be front and centre sharing our knowledge in more than 30 CPD business-oriented education sessions at the Avant Dental Learning Labs. 

It’s all part of our promise to invest in the leading dental technology, knowledge and expertise from around the world as Australia’s leading full-service dental lab. But, to get that right for Australian dentists, we need to be able to tell game-changing advancements from passing trends.  

So we’ve always got our ear to the ground in search of the next giant leap in dentistry. Here are the dental industry trends we’ll be watching in 2024: 

1. 3D Printing: Dental lab vs chairside printing goes head-to-head

Avant is investing heavily in industrial-grade 3D printing technology for 2024, and we expect our 3D-printed splints to be particularly popular with dental practices for a few key reasons. 

Firstly, while 3D-chairside printing and milling will continue to be a persistent trend in 2024 and beyond, labs like Avant that are investing heavily in 3D-printing technology are focused on mitigating the limitations of 3D-chairside printing for dental practices. 

In addition to saving practices from the hefty up-front investment cost and ongoing consumables expenses inherent in chairside 3D printing, the range of materials available for chairside 3D printing is limited compared to industrial-grade 3D printing systems (more on that later). 

Likewise, build volume limitations and slower print speeds of chairside 3D printers can impact the overall efficiency of the chairside process, especially when producing multiple dental devices within a short timeframe. 

Dentists also typically need to allocate additional time, resources and expertise to post-processing steps to ensure quality, and the learning curve associated with operating and maintaining 3D printers may pose challenges for some practitioners.

However, we also believe that Avant’s investment in 3D-printed splints and dentures is still only the beginning of the 3D-printing trend that will continue to accelerate in the coming years. 

Automation and workflow optimisation have been an overarching trend in the dental field for the last several years, and we expect 3D printing to be further integrated into dental workflows in the years to come.

As a result, 3D printing will likely take centre stage in the creation of highly individualised dental solutions, including prosthetics, crowns, and various restorations that are tailor-made to match the unique anatomy of each patient.

This trajectory will continue to evolve as transformative new advancements drive the integration of 3D printing into dental workflows and achieve a deeper fusion with digital dentistry tools, including intraoral scanners, computer-aided design (CAD), and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems to facilitate enhanced precision and customisation in the creation of dental solutions.

For example, while surgical guides for implant placement are already commonly produced through 3D printing, we are likely to see further refinement of these processes, which will contribute to heightened accuracy and success rates in dental implant procedures.

And in orthodontics, the utilisation of 3D printing for clear aligners and other orthodontic devices is expected to become more widespread. This approach offers the potential for more precise and individualised treatment plans to enhance the overall efficacy of orthodontic procedures.

2. Digital Dentures: Cutting-edge technology to drive personalised dentistry

The trend to bespoke digital dentures represents a shift towards highly personalised and customised solutions to meet the unique needs of individual patients, and we expect this trend to accelerate in 2024. Unlike traditional one-size-fits-all approaches, bespoke dentures are crafted with meticulous attention to the specific anatomy, preferences, and functional requirements of each patient.

Avant is investing in digital denture technology that leverages cutting-edge digital tools throughout the design and manufacturing phases to achieve superior precision and accuracy. This technology enables meticulous adjustments to enhance comfort, fit, and aesthetics, which results in a bespoke denture that closely aligns with the patient’s oral anatomy.

In contrast to traditional dentures, which involve manual steps such as physical impressions and mould creation, digital dentures streamline the process using digital tools such as intraoral scanners, computer-aided design (CAD), and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technologies.

Beyond their improvements in precision and accuracy, digital dentures offer numerous advantages over traditional methods. They can reduce the number of required appointments, leading to better-fitting and more comfortable dentures, and facilitate easier reproduction or modification of dentures in the future.

Applicable in situations where traditional dentures are indicated, digital dentures find common use in fabricating complete dentures and removable partial dentures. Moreover, they seamlessly integrate with dental implants, enhancing stability and support by connecting to implants anchored in the jawbone. This proves especially beneficial in unique or complex oral conditions where the ability to digitally design and customise dentures is pivotal to meeting specific patient needs.

3. Advanced Materials: Antimicrobial splint demand set to soar 

Demand for advanced antimicrobial materials looks set to soar in 2024. These materials will play a crucial role in various dental applications due to their potential to inhibit the growth of bacteria and reduce the risk of infections.

Avant is getting behind this trend with a new cutting-edge advanced antimicrobial material to be available for our 3D-printed splints in 2024. We’ll be offering the first biomimetic 3D printing resin for the generative production of hard-elastic orthodontic splints. 

Our antimicrobial material will exhibit reduced biofilm adhesion to sustainably inhibit the communication of bacteria. The material also has a body temperature-induced thermo effect that ensures maximum wearing comfort in the mouth.

We also expect a range of other bioactive materials to gain precedence in the coming years. For example, bioactive dental materials, including bioactive glass and certain resin composites, are being developed to stimulate the remineralisation of tooth structure. These materials have the potential to enhance the interaction between dental restorations and natural tooth tissue.

Silver nanoparticles have also been widely studied and incorporated into dental materials due to their well-known antimicrobial properties. These nanoparticles can be added to composites, cements, and other materials used in restorative procedures to impart antimicrobial characteristics.

Graphene and graphene oxide have also shown promise for their antimicrobial properties. Researchers are exploring their incorporation into dental materials for applications such as preventing biofilm formation on surfaces.

4. Artificial Intelligence: Diagnostic tools to become smarter

At Avant, we’ve been at the forefront of embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technology in our design and manufacturing software. When combined with expert human oversight, AI can improve precision and accuracy, and build significant efficiency into workflows. 

In 2024, we’re expecting to see more AI functionality built into diagnostic tools at a clinical level. For example, AI is being increasingly utilised for analysing dental images, such as X-rays and CBCT scans. AI algorithms are assisting in the early detection of cavities, periodontal diseases, and abnormalities in the oral cavity. 

AI is also likely to be increasingly used for predictive analysis in dentistry. That is, by identifying patterns in patient records and behaviours, AI can help predict the likelihood of certain oral health issues and trigger proactive intervention.

Likewise, AI tools are also being developed to aid dentists in treatment planning. These systems can analyse patient data, suggest treatment options, and help to create personalised treatment plans based on the patient’s specific oral health condition.

We also expect to see advancing AI technology play a role in bringing the lagging tele-dentistry trend to the fore. AI technologies could support the growth of tele-dentistry by enabling the remote monitoring of oral health. Devices equipped with AI will likely provide real-time data on patients’ oral conditions to allow for timely interventions and adjustments to treatment plans without the patient needing to physically visit the clinic.

5. Communications Technology: Customer-centric software to bring labs closer

Avant has been working hard to provide a more seamless customer service experience for our dental clients with a single customer portal that helps dentists access our full capacity in one place. We expect this customer-centric approach will continue to take a greater priority in various types of dental software throughout 2024.  

Cloud-based software solutions for dental practice management, for example, will continue to gain popularity. These systems enable practitioners to access patient records, appointments, and other essential information from anywhere, improving flexibility and overall workflow efficiency.Dental practices are increasingly automating routine administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling, reminders, and billing. We expect to see software automation further embraced this year to reduce manual workload, minimise errors, and improve the overall efficiency of the front office.

More dental practices are also likely to adopt interactive patient engagement platforms, including online portals, to facilitate appointment scheduling, provide educational resources, and enhance overall patient experience.

6. Online Education: Popularity of dental webinars to continue to rise

Avant’s CPD webinars have continued to gain popularity in recent years, and we’re investing more in our online education offering in 2024. While live and recorded webinars are a convenient, time-efficient way for dental professionals to engage in continuing education, we expect to see developing technology add value to the online education space in 2024 and beyond.  

For example, the integration of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in dental education is gaining traction. VR and AR technologies are being used to simulate dental procedures, anatomy exploration, and other hands-on experiences to create immersive learning opportunities.

Online platforms that offer realistic dental simulations and clinical training modules are also becoming more prevalent. These platforms aim to enhance practical skills with real-world clinical scenarios.

Online education in digital dentistry, including courses on CAD/CAM technology, 3D printing, and intraoral scanning, is on the rise. This addresses the growing need for dentists and dental technicians to stay updated on the latest technological advancements.

7. Sustainability in Dental: a high priority in 2024

Avant is committed to leading the dental lab space in sustainability. As we implement our carbon emissions reduction strategies, we’ve recently installed electric car chargers for our staff to complement our rooftop solar panels. We’re also going paperless in 2024 to further reduce our environmental impact. 

But we’re not alone in our commitment to sustainability. More and more dental practices are also embracing more sustainable practices, and we expect this to continue in 2024.   

Dental practices are increasingly adopting eco-friendly dental products, including biodegradable toothbrushes, sustainable floss, and environmentally friendly toothpaste. Many are also focussing on minimising single-use plastics, such as disposable cups, packaging, and plastic materials used during procedures. 

Dental clinics are increasingly implementing water and energy conservation measures, including the use of water-saving equipment, energy-efficient lighting, and the adoption of eco-friendly appliances.

Participation in recycling programs, carbon offset initiatives, and green certification programs will continue to be a priority for many dental practices in 2024. 

The final word

The dental industry is poised for significant advancements and transformative trends in 2024. Avant’s investment in industrial-grade 3D printing technology aims to mitigate the limitations of chairside 3D printing in terms of access to advanced materials, build volume capacity, and workflow efficiency. Our introduction of advanced antimicrobial materials for 3D-printed splints reflects the industry’s wider focus on infection control and patient safety.

Digital denture technology will also emphasise the ongoing shift towards highly personalised treatment solutions in 2024, and the use of AI in analysing dental images, predictive analysis, and treatment planning underlines the potential for AI to revolutionise clinical practice.

Customer-centric software solutions, exemplified by Avant’s single customer portal, represent a growing trend in enhancing the customer experience; online education, particularly through webinars, will continue to gain popularity in 2024; and sustainability will remain a key priority for Avant and the wider dental industry. 

As 2024 unfolds, the dental industry will continue to embrace innovation, personalisation, and technology integration to enhance patient care and overall efficiency. 

Avant Dental is a full-service dental laboratory. To find out more about working with us, please email contact@avantdental.com.au or phone 1800 287 336.

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