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Teeth Whitening: What Your Patients Should Know

Teeth Whitening: What Your Patients Should Know

With our smile being our most noticeable accessory, the desire for whiter, brighter teeth is understandable. Teeth whitening is now a part of the cosmeceutical market, and it has evolved into franchises in shopping malls, products sold on home shopping channels and in beauty retail stores. I personally have been approached in 2 different states by whitening kiosk employees seeking to meet their daily whitening goal, and let me tell you…they can be persistent!

After sharing with both employees that I’m a licensed dental hygienist, I did ask questions about their service. With price points that I imagine are perceived as reasonable to your patient, the process is simple and non-invasive; it is not surprising that many of your patients choose it. Nevertheless, you have the opportunity to market and provide your service in exactly the same way. Let’s discuss two talking points that will make the grade towards the journey to a brighter shade!

First, share the quest for being an ideal teeth whitening candidate and what your practice can do for your patients. Highlight the value of being a licensed dental professional who is trained to recognize and identify areas in the mouth that may or may not be ideal for whitening. Here are some examples of questions to help you along the way:

  1. What is the patient’s tooth shade? If the tooth is dark, is it stained from medications, diet, or lifestyle choices?
  2. Have they been in an accident, or had facial or mouth trauma?
  3. Do they have active gum disease or tooth decay? Swollen gums?
  4. Does the patient have receding gums? Loose teeth?
  5. Do they have ulcers? Have you had cold sores?
  6. Do they have tooth sensitivity? If so, to what degree on a scale from 1-5
  7. Is the patient pregnant?
  8. How often, if ever, have they whitened their teeth?

Now for some deeper digging – What patients and the public don’t know about mall kiosk teeth whitening:

  1. Yes, in some states it is legal to have your teeth whitened by someone who is not in the dental profession.
  2. There is no way for the consumer to know their own true current state of oral health if they have not been seen by a licensed dental hygienist or dentist within the past 6 months.
  3. Zero documentation regarding dental x-rays, dental charting, periodontal charting, active gum disease, etc., is required to show kiosk employees prior to whitening.
  4. If you have a problem or sensitivity issue, you can’t call them like you can your dentist.

When consumers become informed, the ultimate decision is theirs. After all, it is their mouth and oral health. The illusion is that there will not be any consequences to pay for what is perceived as a simple service. Regardless of whether or not expectations are met, the quest for whiter teeth and access to it will continue to grow. By providing your patients with value and information on your teeth whitening services, you can be the reason they get teeth whitening from a dental professional this season!

Anastasia L. Turchetta, RDH
America’s Dental Hygienist

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