Grandview Research estimated the global teeth whitening market size at USD 6.9 billion in 2021 and expected it to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% from 2022 to 2030.
Cosmetic details that previously weren’t important are now front and center. Before the pandemic, Dentistry IQ reported that 77% of dental patients were interested in whitening, while the AACD found 90% of dental patients were interested in whitening. Fortune Magazine recently reported that the convergence of time at home and video calls had produced a surge in requests to dermatologists, dentists, and plastic surgeons for fillers, teeth whitening, and hair loss therapies. People influenced by social media have an increased awareness of their appearance and drive for perfect skin, hair, and teeth. As a result, teeth whitening continues to be a frequently requested dental procedure.
A Win For the Practice
Many dentists we work with have shared their favorite patient success stories. Invariably, these stories have more to do with how they made a patient feel than the restorative procedure itself. Watching a patient, who previously was not confident with the appearance of their teeth, smile broadly is contagious. There’s even more power in those brighter smiles:
- Satisfied patients refer more often and are more likely to leave positive online reviews.
- Whitening services increase restorative demand for additional cosmetic procedures.
- Positive feedback from patients results in higher job satisfaction for team members.
With the impact of the pandemic, inflation, and stagnant PPO fee schedules, more dental practices are looking for ways to lower overhead and increase production in a patient-centered manner. Whitening can bring a revenue boost to the practice through:
- In-office procedures
- Custom and non-custom take-home trays
Using the average patient count of 1,500 for a solo general dentistry practice and conservatively estimating that 20% of your patients will opt for a whitening regimen, the potential increase in practice revenue (that does not involve insurance) packs a production punch.
There is little debate about the benefits whitening services offer practices and patients. Yet, when reviewing codes billed each year, we often find a low percentage of whitening services performed.
Custom Take-Home Trays
Non-Custom Take-Home Trays
|National Average Fee
|Average Staff Overhead Cost
|Average Op Turnover Cost
|Practice Profit per Treatment
Set a Practice Protocol
Create a protocol that includes evaluating each patient’s smile. Increasing esthetic options involves improving your listening and patient interview skills. Record initial shades during routine hygiene visits and ascertain their desire to whiten. Display whitening options and associated fees. Patients may be unaware of how reasonably priced whitening services are and hesitate to initiate the conversation. If you offer chairside whitening, include the phrasing, “would you also like to whiten your teeth at that appointment?” when scheduling. Include whitening options in all comprehensive treatment plans.
Promote Your Offering
To make your whitening program work, you will need to go beyond hanging some well-placed signs at the front desk and pamphlets in the operatory.
You also need a creative social marketing strategy that helps you build and strengthen relationships. Rather than just posting a photo that looks like an ad, show the experience of someone coming into the office to get their teeth whitened. Show the process. It’s equally important to understand the experience the patient had, as well as the results achieved.
The key to growing your teeth whitening services through social media will be creating entertaining yet educational posts.
Start by following these three tips on your preferred social media feed:
- Have an influential patient who loved their results film a video on their phone that they (and you) can post and share.
- Posts that are sincere and highlight both the ease of the process and the benefits of teeth whitening resonate with viewers.
- Videos and posts should drive home that teeth whitening is a simple, quick, and cost-effective procedure. Include a direct link to your appointment page so people can schedule, too.
Work as a Team
Your dental office is busy, and it’s easy for team members to get caught up in the day-to day activities. Whitening treatments (and all case acceptance) is reliant on several things working well.
- The transition of information from the RDH to the doctor should engage the patient and include a thorough synopsis of the patient’s periodontal, restorative, and esthetic status.
- Provide the exam mid-way through the appointment to allow the patient time to process options.
- For larger cases, give a ballpark estimate to help the patient understand the type of investment they are making and potentially open further dialogue.
- Engage the patient again during the transition to the front desk. State the prioritized treatment to summarize and solidify the plan. It is just as crucial for the patient to hear the summary as it is the front desk team member providing estimates and scheduling treatment.
- Make whitening affordable and get it scheduled! Use phrases when patients do not schedule, such as “Are there any challenges I can help you with to get treatment started?” Often, the patient has a challenge they are not comfortable bringing up. An open-ended conversation with a sincere goal to help the patient can make that dialogue more comfortable.
Reap the Rewards
Whitening is an excellent tool for practice growth, but only if you take the time to make it an important part of your practice’s everyday routine. It creates patients who are more invested in their smile, who are more likely to keep that smile healthy, and who often opt for additional elective treatment as well.
By making a few minor changes and committing to promoting whitening, your practice can reap the benefits of a successful, sustainable whitening program while your patients enjoy their whiter, brighter smiles.
Margaret Boyce-Cooley, Director, Practice Support Team
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