Market overview

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Oral health

Market fragmentation

The dental services market encompasses the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental disorders provided by dentists and dental professionals. Through 2022 and into the first half of 2023, the UK dental market has remained ripe for consolidation, reinforced by positive trading conditions following the conclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic and strong demand from the associated backlog for dental services.

Figure 1 Market composition of UK dental businesses by number of sites uv

In September 2022, there were 14,465 dental practices across 12,220 dental businesses, which stipulates a ratio of 1.18 dental practices per company. This figure has remained unchanged for more than 12 months, despite increased consolidation efforts by mid-large corporates,¹ with just 15% of the total number of practices in the UK being owned by larger groups.² The number of dentists in the UK which performed NHS activity during 2021-22 stood at 24,272, nearly double that of the private sector constituting 13,999 dentists.³ The greatest regional concentration of dentists is in London, boasting an 18% share, followed by Manchester (5%) and Kent (2%).

Market size

Despite the growing political uncertainty and inflationary pressure on consumers and businesses, the increased level of market activity in the dental sector in 2021 has continued through 2022 and into 2023, demonstrating the resilience of the sector where others have struggled.

By the end of 2022, the market reached an estimated value of £9.6bn, up c.40% from the £7bn low in 2020, during the worst of the pandemic.⁴

Figure 2 Market composition of UK dental practices by number of dentists

Today, the market is expected to be valued close to the pre-COVID. 2019 levels of £10.1bn, relative to an anticipated global dental services market size of around £370bn,⁵ reflecting the ‘U-shaped recovery’ which Clearwater International anticipated in its dental market report published in 2021.

In 2023, the UK dental practices market size is expected to continue to grow by 7.9%,⁶ faster than the global CAGR of 4.5%.⁷ Transaction volumes have returned to pre-pandemic levels, with over 500 dental transactions occurring in the UK in the last 12 months.² The increase in market size over the previous two years is closely linked to an increase in consumer spending on dental services, which has more than doubled from £1.6bn in 2020 to £3.2bn in 2022.¹

Figure 3 Number of dental businesses by revenue 2021 to 2022
Figure 4 Consumer spending on dental services m
1. Office for National Statistics
2. Clearwater International Research
3. NHS England
4. Mintel UK Dentistry Market Report
5. Grand View Research
6. IBIS World
7. Grand View Research
10. BBC
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