Guest post by John “Cappy” Sinclair, DDS
As a student in dental school, I used to hear tales about how patients would come into practices during the cosmetic dentistry boom in the early 2000s just seeking elective dental care. I envisioned a future of patients on waiting lists and being booked out for weeks with veneer patients. Then the great recession hit, and many of those patients seeking elective care disappeared. But there’s one treatment I do in my office to open the door for elective services, and it’s one that you can start providing immediately right after dental school. What is this one service? It’s tooth whitening!
Prefabricated trays: New to the market just a few years ago, these are the go-to trays in our office. We use the 15% hydrogen peroxide (HP) for patients that are just looking for a quick way to maintain their whitening while traveling, 6% HP for teens in braces looking to freshen things up before school photos, or the 10% HP as a primer a few days before in-office whitening to pre-condition the teeth. These are the most versatile trays as well as the most cost effective. They also help motivate our patients towards the next phase of treatment.
Custom trays: I am sure there are many patients in your practice who have a set of whitening trays somewhere at home that haven’t been used in years. It could be because their trays no longer fit, or maybe they had issues with sensitivity from some of the earlier whitening products. The good news is your patients are already familiar with this treatment, and there are new whitening products for even the most sensitive patients. We also use custom trays to help with our periodontal patients. SDI has a great whitening product that is 3% hydrogen peroxide that we use prior to and after scaling and root planning procedures to help break down calculus and prevent biofilm from reoccurring.
In-Office: Before the recession, it seemed that in-office whitening such as ZOOM or Boost was all the rage, and patients were willing to pay a premium for it. Now, with fierce competition in the market, I have found a premium fee is a large obstacle for many patients. So how do you adjust your fee while still making in-office whitening profitable? One of the easiest ways to adjust the cost is by limiting doctor time. In our office, in-office whitening is handled by a team member. By empowering a team member to handle these tasks, the doctor’s time is left available for doing restorative and prosthodontic dentistry. If your team is a little rusty, many of the reps will come in and train them.
Many of our patients that have started the whitening process have asked about other enhancements, from replacing old stained composites to tooth alignment and even veneers. I may not have been practicing dentistry during the so-called golden era, but I’d like to think that for this generation of new dentists, the best is yet to come!
Dr. Sinclair earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has spent additional time in post-graduate training, studying under renowned leaders in functional and esthetic dentistry, and he currently serves as a board member for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and as a product evaluator for Contemporary Product Solutions and 3M.