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Reclaiming dental whitening: The vital role of shade guides in dental practice

As dental professionals, we understand that our patients’ smiles are one of their most treasured assets. A bright, white smile boosts their confidence and improves their overall well-being. Teeth whitening is a multi-million-dollar industry here in Australia, a highly sought-after service by patients, and it has the potential to impact your revenue significantly. However, there’s a hidden challenge that many of you might not be fully aware of, and it’s costing your practice dearly: Less than a third of patients will engage in teeth whitening with a dental team, and they are looking to find solutions elsewhere.

In my years of experience as a teeth whitening partnership consultant, I’ve seen dental teams struggle to perfect their whitening protocols. With a general lack of training and support to help them, it’s easy to see that whitening is an afterthought. But what if I told you that overlooking the shade guide during a standard dental examination might be one of the significant mistakes we can make

The lost revenue and risk to patients’ oral health.

While there are highly successful dental practices that operate in the teeth whitening sphere, it’s a common scenario in dental practices in Australia: patients visit for routine check-ups, but we only discuss their tooth shade or colour if they bring it up themselves. We assume that if they were interested in teeth whitening, they would ask about it. But that’s where we’re missing a golden opportunity. By not proactively engaging your patients in a conversation about their tooth shade, we inadvertently allow an alarming amount of revenue to slip through our fingers. Patients might not know that they can improve their smile through teeth whitening or may be hesitant to inquire about it, even a little embarrassed. It’s our responsibility as dental professionals to bridge this communication gap.

man with teeth color samples on light background, closeup
Man with teeth color samples on light background, closeup

The silent competitors

In the battle to retain our share of the teeth whitening market, our real adversaries are not other dental practices, but rather salons, spas, supermarkets, pharmacies, illegal websites and non-dental professionals. These people or companies have encroached upon our territory and are now offering teeth whitening services and products without the expertise and quality assurance that we provide.

Imagine the frustration and dismay you probably felt when you discovered that one of your patients whitened elsewhere.

Now, think about how they, the silent competitors, have managed to attract patients simply because they are more proactive in discussing or marketing teeth whitening solutions.

Reclaiming dental whitening

So, how do we reclaim dental whitening and ensure our patients receive the best care possible? The answer lies in our proactive use of the Shade Guide.

The Shade Guide is a clinical tool that has often been overlooked during routine dental examinations. It’s time to change that. Incorporating it into every patient’s check-up is a game-changer. Here’s how:

  1. Initiate the Conversation: Discuss the tooth colour with your patient during the examination. To do this successfully without seeming to appear ‘salesy’, point out their current colour on the shade guide, and note this down in the medical history notes. Now, justify the reason for taking the reading. Explain that your standard protocols include this method of ‘charting’ to ensure that if they require any restorative work, a filling, etc, they can save time by having quick access to their current tooth shade, to then shade match. By visually noting where they are, they can see yellow and the whiter shades at the other end of the guide. The next step is essential. Very gently, ask the patient if they have any concerns or worries or (if you are feeling confident) if there is anything they would like to improve. This simple question opens the door to a crucial conversation. Generally, 80% of your patients will not care, but approximately 20% will. For those who reply, “How can you help me,” or what are my options?” then you can discuss the solutions.
  1. Educate and inform: When a patient asks these questions, share your expertise and knowledge about teeth whitening. Explain the available options, the benefits, and the safety of the procedure under the guidance of a dental practice. Patients appreciate dental professionals who take the time to educate them about their oral health.
  1. Demonstrate care: By taking the initiative to discuss tooth shade, you demonstrate that you care about your patient’s satisfaction and well-being. This builds trust and loyalty, making them more likely to choose your practice for teeth whitening.
  1. Offer solutions: Based on your patient’s preferences and needs, propose a teeth whitening plan that aligns with their goals. Ensure they understand the potential results and any potential sensitivity or side effects.

The bottom line

The Shade Guide is not just a tool; it’s the key to unlocking the hidden revenue potential of teeth whitening in your dental practice. It’s time to highlight their current tooth colour to your patients proactively but in a non-confrontational manner, and only if this is a problem or a concern can you offer them the world-class teeth whitening services that only dental professionals can provide.

As dentists, let’s prevent salons, spas, supermarkets, and pharmacies from stealing your patients away. By reclaiming dental whitening through proactive communication, we can continue to provide the quality care our patients deserve while ensuring the growth and success of our practices. Together, we can maintain our position as the trusted experts in teeth whitening.

What next?

We have discovered a teeth-whitening breakthrough that completely eliminates the fear of disappointed patients, wasted clinical time, and the frustrations of poor case acceptance rates. One that can easily triple whitening productivity and revenue

To find out more, book a short complimentary discovery call with Stephen Douglas here or call directly on 0416 629015, email

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