German clear aligner maker prepares to enter Spanish market
BERLIN, Germany: The orthodontics start-up PlusDental has announced that it will add Spain to the growing list of European countries in which it offers its clear aligners. The Berlin-based company, which rebranded earlier this year, also said that its revenue in 2019 more than doubled. PlusDental’s secret, it seems, has been a teledentistry model that relies on experienced orthodontists to gain patient confidence and provide high-quality care.
It has been a busy year for PlusDental. The company reshuffled its operations in October and part of that was a complete rebranding that saw it change its name from SunshineSmile to PlusDental. The company also shifted its business model from one based on typical teledentistry treatment parameters to one that squarely relies on cooperating with established orthodontic practices.
According to co-founder and Managing Director Lukas Brosseder, focusing on quality has been the key to making its business both larger and more profitable. “We are convinced that only quality medical treatment will prevail in the market, even when treatment is undertaken for cosmetic reasons. […] Tooth corrections are ultimately a medical intervention,” he explained in a statement. “Our surveys have shown that the trust of patients can only be gained with excellent orthodontic and dental quality. Last month alone, we gained 13 new partner doctors. PlusDental stands out in the market because of its commitment to medical quality.”
The company has effectively put orthodontists back at the centre of its treatment model and this appears to be paying off.
PlusDental posted revenues of well over €10 million this year. In 2018, revenues for the full year were under €3 million, which means PlusDental’s cash flow has increased by at least 233%. In October, the company said that it had a network of 32 partner practices; this has now expanded to more than 60, 44 of which are located in Germany. It expanded beyond the German-speaking European markets in the fourth quarter with an October entry into the UK market, meaning its aligners are now available in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the UK. Now, it has its sights set on Spain.
As of January 2020, PlusDental will be offering its clear aligners to consumers in the fourth largest economy in the eurozone. According to Brosseder, this is a significant step. “Our entry into the market in Spain is an important milestone because it means we will be present in more countries than any of our direct European competitors. Spain, which is one of the largest markets for clear aligner treatment, is of great strategic interest to us.”
Co-founder Dr Peter Baumgart told Dental Tribune International that the roll-out of its business in the UK had gone well. “Yes, absolutely: the demand for cosmetic tooth corrections is very high there and there are already three medical practices in important locations that are performing PlusDental tooth corrections,” he said. With regard to the forthcoming launch in Spain, he reaffirmed that PlusDental focuses on cooperation with orthodontic practices instead of opening flagship stores. He explained: “PlusDental is not a dentist chain. We work primarily with private practices and that is what distinguishes us in the market. Our aim is to cooperate with dental practices in Spain and, ultimately, our digital range of dental cosmetics can strengthen the private practice.”
Baumgart said that experienced orthodontists are the company’s primary partners, but also that partner practices are benefitting through their partnership with the company. “PlusDental sees itself as a digitisation partner for dental practices,” he explained. “We bring patients into the dental practice and, in larger cities, this can be over 100 patients per month requiring care within the field of dental aesthetics. This is an attractive future market for dentists.”
“In addition, we offer practices a digital workflow that enables efficient treatment that is attractive to patients. Using state-of-the-art medical technology, we offer affordable and very high-quality dental corrections but we do not do this on our own. Dental and orthodontic expertise are indispensable for aesthetic dental corrections, which is why our established doctors are our most important partners. They provide the medical quality and we provide first-class medical technology,” he said.
Founded in 2017, PlusDental offers free consultations at partner practices and these include an intra-oral scan. It manufactures its own clear aligners at a dental laboratory in Berlin and sends them to patients by post. Company information states that treatment takes 4–10 months and that there are three treatment categories: “Short” (€1,690, or €39.27 per month); “Normal” (€2,390, or €55,53 per month); and “Complex” (€2,690, or €62,50 per month).