Tooth whitening is as popular as ever. We are seeing people in all age groups opting for this esthetic treatment to improve their smiles. As dental professionals, we have an opportunity to have a positive impact on patients' oral health as well as their emotional health. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry virtually all Americans (99.7%) believe a smile is an important social asset. Offering whitening services to patients can have a positive emotional effect by helping patients achieve the whiter, brighter smile they wish they had.
While some patients may arrive in our office asking for whitening treatments, what about the patients who do not ask? There are simple steps you can take to identify patients who would be interested in whitening but may not ask. When reviewing the patient's dental health, add a few questions to your traditional repertoire. I worked with a dentist who used to ask "How can I help you today?". This was a great lead into what the patient was really concerned about. You can also ask the patient more specific questions like, "Is there anything you would like to change?" or "Are you happy with the shade of your teeth?". These questions can help you find out if tooth whitening is something that may interest your patient.
According to Dr. Lisa Knowles, in order for your whitening program to be successful you must first "get the word out." One way to do so is to advertise your whitening program on the dental office website. This can be an incentive for a new patient to choose your office as their new dental home. Social media is another great way to get your message out to patients. Seeing it posted on your social media platform may encourage patients to inquire about your tooth whitening program at their next appointment.
There are benefits to offering patients both in-office and take home kits for whitening. In-office whitening allows the patient to leave the dental office with immediate results. For many patients the idea of "one stop shopping" is ideal. However, as Dr. Sibel Antonson would tell you, it is important to manage expectations and never over promise results. Take home kits allow the patient to have control over the whitening product and the ability to perform a touch-up in the future. Additionally, some patients may not have the time to spend receiving an in-office whitening treatment. Someone who has a limited time in their schedule may appreciate a take home option. Most take home options allow patients to do a treatment once a day for seven to ten days, and this minimal time commitment may be more appealing to some patients.
In addition to product options, patients will want to know about costs. Offering an in-office and take home option is one way to provide patients with a range of price points. Your office may also choose to offer whitening promotions such as new patient specials or pre-holiday whitening programs. Offering alternatives for whitening with different pricing may allow more patients to participate in your office whitening program.
I have encountered many patients who believe whitening is not an option for them because in the past they experienced severe sensitivity following a whitening treatment. The great news for those patients is that whitening products have improved tremendously over the years! For example, Colgate Optic White is unique in the fact that it is designed for no tooth sensitivity. Colgate® Optic White® Professional uses a gentle electrical current that stimulates an ionic process in the whitening gel for fast and noticeable whitening without light or heat.
A successful whitening program could have a positive impact on your practice. It will generate revenue for the office which also may lead to a whitening incentive bonus system for the dental team. It can encourage patients to pursue further esthetic treatment to achieve the smile they are desiring. Successful results lead to patient motivation to maintain the results with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Lastly, your patient base could grow with referrals from satisfied patients.