The Patients, The Dental Professional and Teeth Whitening

Patients looking for teeth whitening are hoping to avoid a high cost. They don’t want any delay to treatment and they expect quick results without any mess.

A clinician, however, is striving for the best long-term result with a reasonable margin of profit. The treatment provides clinicians with minimum patient time in the dental chair, and patients with the flexibility to apply the whitening gel in their own time. The opportunities for patients and dental professionals alike are significant.

Google confirms that as far back as 2015, 24 billion selfies were taken. It’s very much an appearance-conscious world. People follow celebrities and often emulate their actions. Take Kylie Jenner as an example. She was pictured with a teeth whitening kit which resulted in 1 million likes and 82,000 comments.

Surveys carried out in recent years have determined that 96% of those seeking teeth whitening are doing so because it is the least invasive cosmetic dental treatment, it is generally successful, it makes people look more employable and whiter teeth are more appealing for those looking for relationships, romantic or otherwise.

80% of people surveyed would first choose whitening from a dental professional, with the remaining 20% selecting for a home whitening kit or help from another source. 82.5% of patients having had whitening from a dental professional could see the difference, whereas this falls to 63.8% for those using whitening strips at home.

Those who choose not to visit their dentist for the treatment may well be amongst the 50% of patients who have a fear of dentists, and 12% whose fear is extreme, despite the very significant 48% who are nonetheless unhappy with the appearance of their teeth. In the USA, as many as 18% of all patients actively hide their teeth, using a closed smile or avoiding smiling at all.

An overview of the science

In the UK, professional treatment involves an initial examination of the mouth to determine suitability for the treatment, followed by taking a rigid impression in order for customised trays to be made for each patient. When the trays are ready, the dentist will instruct the patient as to how they use the whitening gel and the trays. Dentists are regulated to use a strength of either a maximum of 16% carbamide peroxide or 6% hydrogen peroxide.

Using the Vita Classical tooth shading guide, those patients with A and B shading will respond to the whitening treatment in 1 – 2 weeks. Those with C or D will take longer. However, 5% of patients do not respond to bleaching as they do not produce pigment.

Note that teeth whitening changes the chroma and value of the teeth, but not their structure.

At the time of writing, the market for teeth whitening treatments is growing and is expected to continue to do so for some years. However, not all patients realise that safe, effective and reliable treatment is available at their local dental surgery. Colleagues may therefore consider it appropriate to display literature in their waiting rooms to raise awareness.

Are your patients ready for a whiter, brighter smile?