Why is implant dentistry expanding so fast in China?

As stated in this recent article, dental implant workflow is taking over in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong isn’t alone. The growth of implant dentistry happens across every region in China. We sat down for a chat with Dr. Yi Man from one of the largest dental hospital clinics in Chengdu, the world-renowned Dr. Lyndon Cooper, Head of the Department of Oral Biology at University of Illinois in Chicago, USA, and Claire Li, Clinical and Scientific Manager at Dentsply Sirona Implants China. Here’s what they had to tell us about the the growth and advancement of implant dentistry in China.

Dr. Cooper, you’re no stranger to China. What’s your experience from the dental implant market here?

implant dentistry in China
Dr. Lyndon Cooper, Head of the Department of Oral Biology at University of Illinois in Chicago, USA.

Dr. Cooper: I thought I knew quite a lot about China from students who’d been to my laboratory. But my first trip to China was very, very interesting as I expected to see dentistry emerging. But dentistry and implant dentistry were already here. And in fact the practices I’ve visited on my trips here are all brand new. And the dentists are very young. It’s the youth and the newness of implant dentistry in China that’s most striking. This is a country and a community of professionals on the go.

How quickly is the Chinese dental implant market growing and why?

Claire Li: It is growing very fast. Different resources estimates a growth rate between 15 and 30 percent the next coming years, and the market is likely to exceed USD 700 million by 2020 (read more here). The main markets for premier dental implants growth are the developed cities in the coastal areas as well as the capital cities of our interior provinces. Why the dental implant market is growing this rapidly in China today is firstly, as the economy grows, more and more people are willing to spend money on oral health. Secondly, people are more familiar with the benefits of dental implant-supported restorations. Thirdly, the number of dentists who offer implant dentistry is growing as well.

Implant dentistry in China
Dr. Yi Man from one of the largest dental hospital clinics in Chengdu.

Dr. Man: Patients are better informed today, they know about dental implants. This has made not only the patients but also the Chinese dentists accustomed to and comfortable with implant treatment.

Dr. Cooper: From my point of view, as a visitor, it’s a very engaged and passionate atmospere in the Chinese implant dentistry community. There’s a vibe that you can certainly feel, there’s a pulse, people are engaged, asking important questions, in order to build the next and the best thing in their own practices. It’s really remarkable!

From a scientific point of view, do you see a demand in the Chinese market to continue with evidence-based research?

Dr. Man: We still need to do a lot of research, because every day brings new challenges. We already have a lot of cases, but we need to improve the process and make it repeatable, and for that reason, research is crucial. Also, we need to be open-minded about changing our routines in response to new research. I try to incorporate all the latest knowledge into my treatment protocol. Both from the implant industry and from the dental field in China that continuously produces new and improved research. This makes my treatment better and safer. So, I think research will continue to be important for improving dental implant treatment in China.

Implant dentistry in china
Claire Li, Clinical and Scientific Manager at Dentsply Sirona Implants China.

Claire Li: I agree. Awareness in this field is increasing every day, and that’s all for the better. Quite a lot of brands come and go, but more and more dentists in China are becoming aware of the importance of a scientifically proven product with a long history. When you tell an implant dentist about your product’s benefits today, quite often they will ask you to supply them with documentation that proves it. Soon the patients will become aware too, demanding high-quality implants with a scientifically proven history. Therefore, evidence-based research is essential for success on the Chinese market today and in the future.

Speaking of the future, 5-10 years from now, what can we expect from implant treatment in China and elsewhere?

Dr. Man: One main difference will be in the area of efficiency. Today our patients have to visit us at least four or five times. In the future, the treatment routine will be performed faster and also with more predictability. In 5-10 years, it will all be digital and we will be able to immediately see the placement of implants and the restoration in a virtual set-up. I think that’s already rapidly changing every day.
Claire Li: Yes, digitalization will take over. It’s both easier and time-saving. I also believe that smart solutions will conquer smart products because the products are only a part of the solution. Moreover, chairside workflows will be used for simple work and clinic-to-lab workflows for more complex cases, because equipment for clinics and labs are different. And lastly, esthetics and function will go hand in hand. For the simple reason that fewer and fewer people, patients and dentists alike, will accept a bad smile.
Dr. Cooper: Yes, fully digital. Digital dentistry is our future. Digital dentistry compared to analog is better. It’s accurate and it enhances communication beyond what analog can. Most people come to our clinics not asking for a dental implant, they come asking for teeth. But patients don’t really want their teeth back; they want better teeth. So, esthetics will always be important. To match esthetics, function, and health we have to be cautious. That’s why comprehensive treatment planning and bringing several minds together in a digital platform is key to success.


Dr. Lyndon Cooper

Prosthodontist, Scientist, Educator
Education: Certificate in Prosthodontics, PhD in Biochemistry
Passion at work: I enjoy working with inspired individuals to explore important questions in science and clinical dentistry. This is often done through teaching.
Passion in life: watching my family grow and seeing how we can positively impact those around us.

Dr. Yi Man

Dentist, Professor
Education: 2007: mentored by professor Gong Ping and received Ph.D. of Stomatology at West China School of Stomatology, Sichuan University.
2010: awarded ‘ITI Scholar’ by International Team of Implantology.
2011-2012: study as a research scholar in Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard University (Massachusetts, USA).
Passion at work: Keep learning more about implant treatment by being immersed in it and try to achieve more of the potential. Follow my passion to keep improving my skills, offering new perspectives and achieving meaningful progress on my business.
Passion in life: Step outside my comfort zone to present myself with new ideas and try different options that energize me. Happy times spent with my loving family.

Claire Li

Clinical and Scientific Manager at Dentsply Sirona Implants China
Education: Master Degree in Stomatology, specialized in dental implantology
Passion at work: Implant dentistry is a good way to restore people’s oral function and esthetic.
Passion in life: Restore happiness and beauty for people.

For more information about the development of implant dentistry in China, read about how the digital implant workflow takes over in Hong Kong.