An Interview with Juergen Kaelber
The CEO of Medentika GmbH, whose products are now available in the US through Instradent, discusses trends in the global implant market in recent years.
Inside Dental Technology: Looking at the global implant market, what trends do you see impacting restorative dentistry?
Juergen Kaelber: The primary trend we currently observe is the global growth of full-arch restorations. Also, despite the increasing popularity of custom abutments, the stock abutment market continues to thrive because it is still the fastest way for a laboratory to restore an implant case. You can have a stock abutment ready as soon as a case arrives, fabricate the model, prepare the abutment, and then produce the crown, all within a few hours.
This is why we have designed our stock abutments with thicker walls and with a particular emergence and margin design. Of course, we also see the titanium bases for hybrid abutments becoming an industry standard.
IDT: The emergence of new players onto the implant market has been quite disruptive to pricing structures. What problems are your company and others in the industry trying to solve?
JK: Ten years ago, most of the major implant manufacturers were selling their parts at extremely high prices. Even though these components were very expensive, they were and still often are quite imprecise in regard to the fit of the interfaces. The cost of these high-priced restorative products was then being passed on to the patient, who already pays a significant amount of money for the implant surgery.
These problems motivated us to start a company that offered a higher-quality product at a more affordable price.
IDT: What has been the result of lower-cost implant components on the market?
JK: The price of implant components has decreased considerably due to the value segment market that has emerged during the past 10 years. This trend, I believe, will continue because manufacturing practices have become more efficient. The previously high profits that major implant companies were enjoying have decreased. Dentists and laboratory technicians have realized that they can purchase high-quality products at a less expensive price.
IDT: What are some common misconceptions about value segment products that should be clarified?
JK: As an engineer, I look at implant components with a very intense eye on the quality, design, innovation, and functionality. Some misconceptions that people harbor about value segment parts is that they are not of high quality, that they are not precise, and that they are not innovative.
Many people think that in order to make a part more affordable, these factors need to be compromised. If a dental laboratory or a clinician really wants to save money, they need to see what value their restorative components will bring to their business.
IDT: What value propositions should laboratories seek in their relationship with a components manufacturer?
JK: Customers should have confidence in the manufacturer and its products. The component manufacturer should be an extension of your business.
Trust is very important in any relationship. Can the laboratory trust that the products it purchases will help provide high-quality restorations? Can the laboratory trust that the manufacturer will stand behind its products when there is a problem? Can the laboratory trust that the manufacturer will provide all of the necessary support and assistance?
Trust between a laboratory and a manufacturer creates a partnership that will help both sides succeed.
IDT: What value do you consider to be most important in manufacturing restorative components: quality materials, attractive price, or excellent customer service?
JK: This is almost like asking which arm you like best. Quality, customer service, and attractive pricing are all extremely important to me and my company.
Another thing to consider is being socially and ecologically conscious. When our company started, we encouraged customers to return the packaging to us so we could reuse it. We offered a free abutment if they returned 50 containers to us. When we were small, this was manageable. Now that we are a global company, this option is no longer possible.
However, we are still socially conscious because our abutment packaging is small, minimizing our environmental footprint, and it is designed so that a laboratory can also repurpose it as the final packaging for the abutment and crown. In the end, a company should do everything it can to help its customers, because without them, the company could not exist.