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We recently asked 101 dental practices around the country about whitening. We wanted to know if it was offered and what were some of the obstacles to patients accepting it.
Within the next five pages, you’ll see what you told us about whitening in your practice. Of course, there’s always room to grow this part of your practice. When we talked to practice management consultant Gary Takacs about the subject, he gave us some great ideas on how to boost your office’s whitening bottom line. Check out our exclusive interview with him here.
According to a recent survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry…
Virtually all adults (99.7%) believe a smile is an important social asset.
96% of adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex.
Three-quarters (74%) of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt a person’s chance for career success.
And when respondents were asked, “What would you like to improve most about your smile?” The most common response was whiter and brighter teeth.
So patients have said whitening is important … but are they taking advantage of it in your practice? Read on to see what you told us, and hear thoughts on the survey results from Catherine Diaz-Cardoso, marketing manager for whitening for Philips Zoom…
Just under 75 percent of the practices we surveyed said they offered in-office whitening.
“That’s very much in line with our data,” Diaz-Cardoso said. “We haven’t seen much change over the last few months so that seems very consistent with our numbers.”
A majority of dental practices said that they are doing about the same amount of whitening as last year. However, more answered they were doing less this year than those who said they were seeing an increase.
“I’m not surprised,” Diaz-Cardoso said. “Consumers now have a lot of options for whitening. There is a proliferation of oral health items that people can buy now to help them enter whitening at a very low cost barrier, including toothpaste. If people can buy toothpaste with the added benefit of whitening, they’re going to do that and think they are taking steps to whiten their smiles.”
This was perhaps the most surprising result of our survey that we saw. We’ve heard for quite some time that white teeth are seen as a very important quality to dental patients, yet 56 of the 101 respondents (55.5 percent) listed whitening as only somewhat important to the practice and patients.
Very important (16.8 percent) actually came in third behind not very important (23.8 percent).
“There is a lot included in this question,” Diaz-Cardoso said. “How important is it to the practice? It’s important, but it has to be relevant to everything else being done in the practice. Patients are concerned about many things with their oral health, including whitening. Yes, they’re concerned about yellow teeth but they also know there are solutions to help them with that (like the toothpaste mentioned earlier). Many consumers don’t realize the difference that a professional whitening treatment will really deliver.”
We’ve known for a while that cost was the biggest roadblock for whitening services being accepted … but did we really know it was this big of a hurdle? Of our respondents, 76.5 percent listed cost as the thing that holds patients back from accepting whitening treatment.
“Consumers in general are not aware of the types of professional whitening solutions available,” Diaz-Cardoso said. “There’s a misconception out there that professional whitening is only for celebrities or people with a big budget. It’s important for dental practices to communicate the pricing information right up front. If you’re going to bring a patient in with a whitening promotion, make sure you share the price point. In many cases, consumers will be pleasantly surprised.
“The misconception about cost and professional whitening doesn’t have to be there. Look at Philips Zoom QuickPro. It’s a great professional brightening option for budget-minded patients who can spend about $99 to $125.”
Yes hygienists, when it comes to who has the job to explain whitening and its benefits, it falls to you in most of the practices (to the tune of 69.7 percent of our respondents).
“This is no surprise at all,” Diaz-Cardoso said. “We believe it’s best practice for a hygienist to take a shade assessment at the six-month checkup and be able to talk to the patient about that the next time he or she comes in.”