With the advent of working from home during the pandemic, we all heard tales of people holding conference calls in their pajamas. Then, it seemed, video calls became the norm, and many found themselves staring at – well, themselves.

Aesthetic details that were less important previously; moved front and center. Before the pandemic, Dentistry IQ reported 77% of dental patients were interested in whitening, while the AACD found 90% of dental patients were interested in whitening. Fortune Magazine recently reported the convergence of time at home and video calls produced a surge in requests. Dermatologists, dentists, and plastic surgeons have seen increases in questions about fillers, teeth whitening, and hair loss therapies. Countless video calls have forced many of us to analyze our appearance with a critical lens to a greater degree.

Video conferencing backgrounds can hide a cluttered room, but there is no hiding your smile – and smiles are powerful! The AACD has reported 83% of people find teeth more important to their appearance than hair or eyes. With many Americans out of work and interviewing online – researchers found whiter teeth can increase a person’s chance of being offered a job and receiving higher pay. There’s no doubt healthy smiles promote healthy self-esteem. There is also a demand and a clear win for patients and your practice when you focus on whitening.


What About the Win for the Practice?

Many dentists we work with share their favorite patient success stories. Invariably, these stories have more to do with how they made a patient “feel” than the restorative procedure itself. Seeing a patient who was not confident with the appearance of their teeth smile broadly is contagious. There’s even more power in those whiter 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 pandemic, more dental practices are looking for ways to lower overhead and increase patient-centered production. Whitening can bring a revenue boost to the practice. Take a look at the chart below.

In-Office Procedure

Custom Take-Home Trays

Non-Custom Take-Home Trays

National Average Fee $650 $400 $100
Product Cost $71.58 $32.99 $15.99
Average Staff Overhead Cost $19.55 $19.55 $0
Average Op Turnover Cost $12.00 $12.00 $0
Practice Profit per Treatment $546.87 $335.46 $84.01
Practice Potential $164,061 $100,638 $25,203

Table 1

Using the average patient count of 1,500 for a solo general dentistry practice and conservatively estimating 20% of your patients will opt for a whitening regimen, the potential increase (highlighted above in blue) in practice revenue (NOT involving insurance) packs a production punch.

There is little debate as to the benefits whitening services offer practices and patients. Yet, when reviewing codes billed out each year, we often find a low percentage of whitening services performed.

The solution? Taking a focused approach to enhancing your whitening program.


Set a Practice Protocol

Create a protocol that includes evaluating each patient’s smile. Start with your listening and patient interview skills. Discover your patient’s desire to whiten during a routine hygiene visit. If they show interest, record initial shades. Patients may be unaware of how reasonably priced whitening services are and hesitate to initiate the conversation. So display whitening options and associated fees where they are visible. If you offer chairside whitening, when scheduling a patient, ask, “Would you also like to whiten your teeth at this appointment?” Consider including 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 operator.

You also need a creative social marketing strategy that helps you build and strengthen relationships. Show the experience, the whole process, of someone coming into the office to get their teeth whitened. It’s equally important to understand the experience the patient had, as well as the results.

The key to growing your teeth-whitening services through social media will be creating entertaining yet educational posts. Start by following the three tips below on your preferred social media feed:

  1. Have an influential patient who loved their results film a video on their phone that they (and you) can post and share.
  2. Posts that are sincere and highlight both the ease of the process and the benefits of teeth whitening resonate with viewers.
  3. Posts should drive home teeth whitening is a simple, quick, and cost-effective procedure. Show this by posting prices and the length of time it takes. Include a direct link to your appointment page so people can schedule too.


Work as a Team

Your dental office is a busy place, and it’s easy for team members to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget about the benefits of growing your whitening business. Whitening (and all case acceptance) is reliant on several things working well:

  1. The transition of information from the RDH to the Doctor should engage the patient and include a synopsis of the patient’s periodontal, restorative, and aesthetic status.
  2. Provide the exam mid-way through the appointment to allow patients time to process whitening options.
  3. For large cases, give a “ballpark estimate” to help the patient understand the type of investment they are making and open further dialogue.
  4. Engage the patient again during the transition to the front desk. State the prioritized treatment to summarize and solidify the plan. It is as important for the patient to hear the summary as it is the front desk team member who will be providing estimates and scheduling treatment.
  5. Make whitening affordable and get it scheduled. Use phrases when patients do not schedule like “Are there any challenges I can help you with to get treatment started?” An open-ended question might help the patient feel more comfortable too.


Make an Effort; Reap the Reward

Whitening is a great 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 small changes and a commitment to promoting whitening, your practice can reap the benefits of a successful, sustainable whitening program – while your patients enjoy their whiter, brighter smiles. Who knows, they may even start looking forward to those Zoom meetings.

Your success is our success. Please reach out to us anytime.
Learn more, visit the Practice Support Team page, call 1.800.665.5323 or email us at PracticeSupportTeam@BurkhartDental.com

Burkhart Dental Supply – Practice Support Team


Margaret Boyce-Cooley, Director, Practice Support Team


Published in TIPSMarch/April 2021

Category: Practice Consulting

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