Brazil aims for the big leagues
Brazil has long been a dental market powerhouse. The large number of research articles published annually and the great production of its dental industry have positioned this South American economic colossus at the forefront, in a country where it is estimated that there are 290,000 dentists to serve a population of 207 million inhabitants , which is equivalent to 4.29 dentists per 3,000 inhabitants, more than double the amount in the United States.
The Brazilian Health Devices organization, the export arm of the Brazilian Association of the Medical and Dental Industry (ABIMO), organized a visit to several manufacturers of dental products, as well as to companies who exhibited new technologies at the 37th International Congress of Dentistry of São Paulo (CIOSP), held from January 30th to February 2nd, and considered the largest in Latin America.
The figures leave no doubt about the scientific and industrial impact of Brazil: it is the second country in the world in the publication of dental research articles (after the United States), producing 84% of scientific articles in Latin America, and its industry exports dental products worth $87.3 million dollars a year to 130 different countries.
At the academic level, three Brazilian universities are among the first five in the world in dentistry: the University of São Paulo, the State University of São Paulo and the University of Campinas. The second and third place are held by Harvard (USA) and Bern (Switzerland) universities, respectively.
Rafael Cavalcante, ABIMO Market Access Coordinator, explains that Brazil has a strong production of dental products and that dental care in the country is an established cultural tradition among the population, and the reason for the existence of this large market.
In Latin America, Brazil is the industry leader followed by Mexico, which is the first destination of products manufactured in Brazil, for which Mexico buys 8.6 million dollars a year in dental products.
The main export products of the Brazilian dental industry are, according to ABIMO, bioceramic cements for endodontics, brackets for orthodontics and dental implants.
The two factories visited during the tour organized by Brazilian Health Devices were as interesting as they were different from one another.
Dental Morelli, the largest manufacturer of orthodontic products in Latin America, has grown enormously but is still a family business that maintains a humane and friendly relationship with its employees in its large premises in Sorocaba, one hour from São Paulo. The company is practically self-sufficient in the multiple production processes it has in its two manufacturing plants. In one of them, in addition to a large dining room for employees, there are several dental clinics that treat workers and their families, as well as a gym, and even a small museum that shows the beginnings of the company. The tour of the factory was in charge of its Industrial Director, Roger Morelli, a relative of the company founder.
SIN Implants, meanwhile, is currently the first Brazilian dental implant manufacturer, after Straumann acquired Neodent in 2015, which is now part Swiss. Felipe Leonard, current president of the company, said that SIN Implants has recently obtained approval from the FDA to distribute one of his implants in the United States, which was recently presented at the Greater New York Dental Meeting. At the upcoming IDS in Germany, they were planning to make some important announcements. Leonard has extensive business experience at the international level, having previously server as director of Philip Morris for Brazil.
But the familiar aspect of one company and the more international profile of the other are merely attitudes towards the market. Morelli, which has more than 650 workers, manufactures 2,000 different products, of which it exports 30% of its production, mainly to Latin American countries such as Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. And the company focuses on manufacturing products that have shown proven success in the international market.
At a time when braces are fashionable among many young people, Roger Morelli says that the production of his company has increased on average 10% per year since 2013 to date. "They have a good image in the Brazilian market and are accessible thanks to their low cost," he said, adding that Dental Morelli manufactures both metal and ceramic brackets. Due to the extensive knowledge of the ceramic manufacturing process, Morelli said that they are studying the possibility of producing zirconium implants in the near future, the new material for dental implants.
After a tour of the manufacturing plant of SIN Implants, located in São Paulo proper, Leonard explained that the company exports to 15 countries, but that it has a small market share, since until recently it had been focused in the Brazilian national market. The president described the advanced implant manufacturing technology of the company uses and said that the time has come to show its advantages to international oral implantologists.
Although it is estimated that there are more than 1,000 implant international manufacturers, Leonard said that SIN has a good product and that it trusts the success of its dental solutions when they start to compete in the open market.
“And we are a very flexible company. One of our qualities is to offer a good service to dentists, something that, as with everything now a days, is highly appreciated,” he said, and one of the strengths laid by the founders of the company.
Leonard said that the export division was the fastest growing part of the company in 2018, with 10 percent growth, and that it’s expected to double international sales results yearly over the next few years. The president described that SIN relays in a key opinion leaders, which he called "ambassadors" of SIN Implants, which help explain the benefits of its products at the clinical level. More than the price, he said, in the United States and in Europe dentists want to see clinical studies that support results, and Leonard is confident in the scientific support that backs the quality of his implants.
In addition to opinion leaders, Leonard added that the other pillar of his strategy is organizing training courses, both at universities and at the private level.
“The placement of an implant is a complicated surgical procedure, in which many things can go wrong, and when a dentist learns to place implants with a given system, is usually loyal to the brand, especially if his or her needs are complemented with good quality and good service,” said the president of SIN Implants.
The president also referred to the different implant systems that are currently on the market and specifically mentioned the requirement of compatibility between components demanded by European dentists In this regard, he praised the work being done by the Research and Development department of the company with that objective in mind.
Leonard announced that SIN Implants will have its own both at IDS for the first time, the largest fair for dental products in the world, and that, depending on the approval process of the European Community, it will present new surgical solutions at the event, and bring more than 100 guests to Cologne.
In addition to Dental Morelli and SIN Implants, Dental Tribune interviewed at the CIOSP congress directors of companies such as Olsen (dental chairs and multiple accessories), Implacil (implants), Maquira (restorative materials), Orthometric (orthodontic products), Alliage (from armchairs to radiology equipment), Angelus (endodontics), KG Sorensen (dental burs).
ABIMO superintendent, Paulo Henrico Fraccaro, offered a detailed description of the goals Brazil has set for exporting quality dental products around the world in another talk. These interviews will be published soon in Dental Tribune Latin America Online.