Building your practice with teeth whitening

Tooth whitening is top of mind for patients of all ages these days, and when done correctly and strategically, it can also be a great way to build your practice, patient pool, and, of course, revenue. We talked to industry experts Dr. Jaimeé Morgan and Ultradent Training Manager and product expert, Steve Gerber, about a few tips for attracting patients through whitening and how to bring up tooth whitening without any awkwardness. Here are a few of their pearls of wisdom to help you take your whitening business to the next level.

Dr. Jaimee Morgan
Dr. Jaimeé Morgan

Why do you believe so strongly in the power of tooth whitening?

Dr. Morgan:

Whitening is one of the easiest and safest age-defying procedures that we can offer our patients without having to cut their teeth for veneers or more invasive procedures. I truly believe that whether they know it or not, most patients would say yes to whiter teeth if offered to them as part of their treatment protocol. 

How do you bring up tooth whitening without making the patient feel like you’re judging the color of their teeth or offending them?

Steve Gerber 
Steve Gerber, Ultradent’s Sales Trainer

Steve Gerber:
It’s actually really easy. I always tell our doctors to have samples of our take-home, semi-custom Opalescence Go® whitening system in their office and at the end of their patients’ appointments, ask them if they’d like to put trays in to sample it. I’ve rarely heard a story where the patient turns down a free sample of tooth whitening. Then, once the patient has seen how it works, they usually come back wanting to purchase the system and complete the whitening process. By offering them that initial sample of Opalescence Go whitening, you’ve bypassed any awkward whitening conversation and let them come to the conclusion themselves about whether or not they’d like to whiten. The answer is usually 'yes!'

Opalescence Go
Giving patients a sample of Opalescence Go
whitening is a great way to introduce them
to tooth whitening

Dr. Morgan:
When I opened my practice 10 years ago, I decided to offer complimentary whitening to all of my patients. First of all, this bypassed any “awkward whitening conversations” because I attracted patients who already wanted whitening. The referrals that free whitening for all patients generates are incredible!

What is the return on investment by offering free samples or free tooth whitening?

Steve Gerber:
I always recommend that dental practices purchase our Opalescence Go whitening tray sample towers to display at the front of the office. Dentists come back saying that most of the patients who try it end up buying a full Opalescence Go whitening kit, which will sell for anywhere from $50 to $100. If only two of the twenty patients who receive samples end up buying kits, you’ve more than covered the cost of the sample tower. I would say that’s a pretty sound investment.
Free Sample Tower
Opalescence Go Whitening Sample Tower

Dr. Morgan:
At my practice, we invest less than $36 per patient (for alginate, stone, two custom whitening trays, up to 12 syringes of Opalescence® PF whitening, and a tray case) initially, and then maybe an additional $5 every six months when the patient comes in for a checkup. We always buy the refill kits of Opalescence PF whitening syringes and get the tray material, tray cases, and alginate in bulk to get the best prices. If we order at dental trade shows and conferences, we get even better discounts! A return on investment exceeding a 3 to 1 ratio is considered successful, and when you consider that a new patient brings $800–$1,000 in value to a practice, our $36 investment yields a 22+ to 1 ROI. I believe anyone could increase the profitability of their practice by following this model!

How do you make sure the patients keep coming back after you’ve given them their whitening?

Dr. Morgan:
Well, first of all, in order to professionally whiten (even if it’s for free), our patients must have a complete checkup to ensure their teeth are healthy enough to whiten. Then, after we take impressions on their upper and lower arches, we only whiten one arch at a time, starting with their upper arch at Opalescence PF 10% carbamide peroxide whitening to ensure they don’t get too much sensitivity. After wearing the upper trays for eight nights, they come in for a shade check, and can easily see the difference between their upper and lower arch. At that checkup, we determine whether or not the patient is ready for their lower tray, and if they are, we send them home with four more syringes of Opalescence PF whitening (one syringe lasts two nights). After they’ve used the initial eight syringes, they get four more free, and then pay a maintenance fee for additional syringes exceeding twelve. They must also stay current on their six-month checkups, and at each checkup, we ask if they need any more whitening gel. We offer it to them in additional syringes for a small fee, and also sell Opalescence Go semi-custom take-home whitening boxes at our office! Our patients love it!

Learn more about Opalescence Whitening