By Peter Watt

 

When discussing dental implants, companies like Straumann and Nobel Biocare often come up as providing the benchmark for quality and innovation. But these great European companies are now looking over their shoulders at Osstem, the dynamic, fast-growing Korean implant maker.

Established in the late 1990s and present in the Australian market since 2008, Osstem is now the No. 1 implant company in the Asia-Pacific region and will soon be the fifth-ranked implant company worldwide. Openly ambitious, Osstem has targeted 2023 as the year it will become the world’s largest manufacturer of implants. In pursuit of global domination, the company is a leading innovator in the field, investing heavily in R&D and training.

It will come as no surprise that many dentists are seeing Osstem implants as considerably better value than their top international equivalents. What may surprise is that in this case quality is not the first casualty of a lower price.

One of the earliest users of Osstem implants in Australia was Lane Cove, Sydney, dentist Michael Ho. Like many dentists, Michael started his implant training using Brånemark, Nobel Biocare’s flagship product. He also used Endopore, PittEasy, Sybron and Straumann implants. When initially approached by Osstem, Michael was a little apprehensive. “I was thinking, why would I go from a BMW to a Hyundai? But a close Korean colleague of mine pointed out that Osstem is the top-selling implant in Korea and that gave me the confidence to try it.”

Michael’s colleague also explained that Korea’s equivalent of the TGA is not as strict, and the resulting environment has given rise to the development of many implant companies and implant designs. Moreover, it has created fierce competition and implant companies therefore have to be highly competitive to survive. “If an implant company survives in Korea it has to be good,” Michael says, “and Osstem is more than just surviving.”

Cost and quality were initial reasons for Michael to look at Osstem. “The Osstem implant cost less than half what I was used to, and when I looked at it, it was very similar to the Straumann implant design I was most familiar with and it worked just the same.”

Three other factors have played a big part in Michael’s commitment to Osstem: simplicity, product range and customer service.

“With previous implants I was used to taking about 14 steps before I even screwed in the implant, but with Osstem it was only two or three. Wow, that was new. I don’t want to exaggerate the simplicity but it really was significantly simpler.

“And Osstem is a one-stop shop; it has every type of implant I need, which has saved me a lot of time over the years. It’s especially useful to me with their range of mini implants and their orthodontic temporary anchorage implants. I also do a lot of orthodontics and the two disciplines do merge; temporary anchorage implants have changed orthodontics greatly in recent years.”

Michael’s satisfaction with Osstem’s service hinges mostly on its speedy response. “I can’t carry a large inventory, so I’m often calling them and saying ‘I need this and I need it now’. Their delivery times are very quick and I can hardly fault them in all the years I’ve been using them.”

Michael’s interest in technology and innovation first bore fruit with a degree in Computer Science in the 1980s, before he took up dentistry. In general practice since 1991, he has gained particular expertise in orthodontics, implantology and CAD-CAM chairside delivery of ceramic restorations. This in turn has led to a desire to share his learnings with other dentists, in particular training dentists in the use of CAD-CAM chairside systems and the Cfast orthodontic system. He emphasises that he received no inducement for this article; the motivation was purely to share his positive experiences with the Osstem product. Osstem. Remember the name.

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