Five surefire ways to boost revenue with chairside teeth whitening

Dec. 1, 2011
When USA Today surveyed people on services they really want, 85% of them chose teeth whitening!

Dr. Rinesh Ganatra

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: chairside teeth whitening, gateway procedure, Dr. Rinesh Ganatra.

When USA Today surveyed people on services they really want, 85% of them chose teeth whitening! That's teeth whitening — not crowns, not dental implants, not veneers, just whiter teeth. There is tremendous power in marketing to your community about something they want.

In our practices, we use Zoom! Chairside Whitening since it's a well-marketed whitening treatment and patients know they can only get it at the dentist. The simple success formula for any dental practice is to get patients in for what they want, then educate and motivate them about what they need. If you want more patients and revenue, market to their wants; then commit them to their needs.

That being said, how do you really grow your practice with teeth whitening? Let's be honest. Teeth whitening, in most practices, no longer generates $500 for a typical in-office treatment like it did when it first came out. With the countless online discount deals floating around, the first dental service to decrease in price point was teeth whitening.

So, how can you still grow your practice with chairside whitening? Here are five ways:

1. Look at chairside whitening as a "gateway procedure" that will lead patients to other treatment. When patients schedule to whiten their teeth, make sure you set them up for an exam and X-rays before the teeth whitening appointment. Tell your front office to set expectations by telling patients that the doctor will evaluate their teeth to make sure it is safe to whiten them. This lets them know that making sure their teeth are healthy is a priority, and that you care about their wellbeing. This will eliminate the surprise factor if you do find a reason for additional treatment.

2. Give all patients a comprehensive exam and let them know what must be done before their teeth whitening procedure. Be honest and tell patients you're looking for areas in their mouth that can cause long-term sensitivity if they are not treated prior to whitening. Anterior decay, class V abrasions/abfractions, and cracked teeth can cause long-term sensitivity if left untreated. If you educate your patients on why they need to finish certain treatment before whitening, then you'll be much more successful in having them commit to treatment.

3. Set up your Online Presence Triangle®. This is your triad of success: a) your website, b) your videos (via YouTube), c) your social media footprint, such as Facebook.

Get video testimonials of your patients talking about their whitening. This is a key element to building your web presence. Nothing sells like social network proof. When patients finish their teeth whitening, if they are happy, ask them if you can do a quick 20-second video that explains how they felt about their Zoom! whitening.

Then embed this video on your website under the teeth whitening section (make sure you get patients' informed consent). Potential patients watching this may want to make an appointment with your office. We live in a social world, so make it possible for happy patients to promote your practice even while you're sleeping. Get set up online.

4. Get email, schedule an appointment, and follow up via email when a whitening patient leaves your office. We do this regardless of what they have on their treatment plan. When a patient walks to the front office after a procedure, say, "Let's put you in our system so you'll get an email reminder before your appointment. If you need to you can reschedule then, but this way you have an appointment."

Most offices focus on getting only new patients and fail to realize that it's easier to sell to those that have already bought from them. We need to focus on getting them back for their treatment. In our office, we automate follow-up with the office journal feature of Dentrix that alerts the front office to call patients about treatment. For emails we use Demandforce, which automatically sends patients reminders to come in for cleanings and appointments.

5. Do it again! Don't forget that teeth whitening requires maintenance. Your patients want to keep their teeth white. Offer touch-ups in the form of take-home whitening trays that can be used to maintain their results. The best time to offer a take-home touch-up or maintenance treatment is right after patients finish getting their teeth whitened, while they are emotionally satisfied with the experience. We sell take-home whitening trays such as NiteWhite ACP/DayWhite ACP for $75, and we've noticed that most of our patients not only buy them, but also return to do the in-office procedure again.

Dr. Rinesh Ganatra, founder of SoCal Smiles Dentistry, two state-of-the-art practices in Orange County, Calif., is the author of Re-Inventing Dentistry — A New Vision for Building and Marketing your Dental Practice. He lectures on how to leverage social media and video marketing to grow dental practices. Reach him at [email protected].

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