Whitening as a business for dental practices

Date: September 2021

Author: Natalie Bradley BDS Dip SCD MFDS RCSEd

Teeth whitening has become more relevant than ever, especially with the GenZ living much of their lives on social media. This is a huge opportunity for dental practices to use this to their practice benefit and improve their business. So how can dental professionals use whitening as a business?

Bleaching sells itself. Patients will already come into the dental office wanting to know more about bleaching and how to improve the whiteness of their smiles. The dental team members themselves can be walking advertisements for whitening treatments, since patients can see the results in real-life people who they can trust. This can be reinforced by the use of before and after photos within the dental office but also on a practice's website or social media. Make sure you have a release from the patient in writing before posting information.

Always make sure to talk to patients about the benefits of their treatment, rather than features, as a bright aesthetic smile is valuable socially; particularly with the advent of social media and virtual meetings.

Timeliness and efficiency is also important to ensure the effective running of the practice as a whitening business. Patients want their bright and beautiful smiles now, so staff should be able to construct whitening trays, bleaching material and give instructions in a timely fashion. Of course, depending on the product a tray may already be included. Appointments should be as few as possible for in-office treatment, and the dentist or hygienist should communicate with their assistant to ensure the chair-side procedure is smooth and efficient. Clinical photographs are essential so that the patient is able to see the results of their treatment.

Bleaching often also leads to other dental work, which in itself can be beneficial. After bleaching, patients may notice other areas that could benefit from aesthetic work such as old composites, anterior crown or bridgework, or request edge-bonding to improve symmetry or close diastemas. Bleaching can be a patient's first cosmetic experience, so ensuring they have a good result can spark excitement about what else they could do to improve their smile.

How to make whitening more profitable?

1. Ensure that you have an appropriate pricing structure. There is lots to consider when deciding what price structure is best for your practice, including:

  • Promotional pricing - to get people through the door of your practice. Experiment with different promotions and decide which performs best for your practice and patient base. This can be at the point of sale in your practice, based on patient loyalty or together with product bundling, e.g., orthodontics with free whitening included.

  • Competitor-based pricing - this doesn't always mean being the least expensive. Consider what you deliver compared to your competitors, and whether you offer a premium service that justifies a higher price.

2. Intelligent buying. Make sure your costs don't start spiraling, and be strategic with your purchases. Take advantage of discounts and promotional offers.

3. Know your products and make sure the whole dental team is trained on whitening, in order to be able to answer patient questions. Make sure to have solutions for potential issues or side effects, for example, a product a patient can use if they have sensitivity during treatment, and selecting a product that has been shown to minimize sensitivity.

4. Market whitening in different ways, from posters in the dental office, social media content, patient literature in the waiting room or even videos played in the waiting room.

With the popularity and results of tooth whitening, this is a beneficial opportunity for your practice and your patients.

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