By Danny Chan
It seems everywhere you turn in the news and mass media, the teeth whitening market is experiencing a boom, but talk to an Australian dentist and the picture may look very different. Just ask Stephen Douglas, owner of Boutique Whitening, who has conducted 2000 interviews with principal dentists over 400 practice visits.
After chatting with a great number of Aussie practitioners about their whitening business, Douglas arrived at this unsettling conclusion: “Many dentists and their practices suffer and struggle from poor teeth whitening results. The consequences are disappointed patients, multiple complaints about sensitivity and lacklustre profitability.”
The whitening entrepreneur’s findings seem to agree with a 2018 study conducted by the Australian Dental Association, which found that more than two-thirds of people aged 18 to 35 who've whitened their teeth didn’t go to a professional.
While only 6% of whitening customers are going to non-dentist services for their cosmetic therapy, the ADA study found that 50% are buying over-the-counter (OTC) DIY kits from websites, chemists or beauty salons.
With or without you
Being excluded from a lucrative market, however, isn’t the only bugbear for Australian dentists.
“Less than half of those who bleached their teeth in 2020 did so under the supervision of a dentist,” Douglas says, alluding to patient safety concerns.
“And 65% of those surveyed were oblivious to the risks of home whitening.”
Australian regulations on teeth whitening, Douglas adds, are not helping the situation. He cited an August ruling which capped the non-dentist use of beaching gels at 6% for Hydrogen Peroxide and 18% for Carbamide Peroxide.
This gave non-dentist whitening service providers more leeway as compared to European legislation, which Douglas says precludes non-dentists from administering whitening gels above 0.01% Hydrogen Peroxide.
“Some dentists are coming to whitening vendors like me for 9% Hydrogen Peroxide gels just to maintain leverage over the non-dentist whitening methods, but a higher bleaching strength does not necessarily equate to a better bleach,” Douglas stresses.
“On the other hand, you can walk into Coles today and buy a whitening strip that contains 5.9% Hydrogen Peroxide without dentist supervision, but is it safe?”
Give me five!
In a bid to help dentists regain their footing in the teeth whitening space – in so doing increasing the level of patient safety and awareness – Douglas has launched The Expert Whitening Secrets training and strategy program.
As part of The Whitening Project that Douglas also created, the program is touted as a blueprint to teach dentists “the skills and techniques used by thousands of UK dentists to solve these dilemmas and set you on the road to a more profitable practice, all built on a foundation of teeth whitening.”
The program comprises of a 75-minute live session that dentists can access for $37. It includes a pre-recorded training session on teeth whitening protocols from Professor Van Haywood, a US-based practitioner whom Douglas refers to as the 'Godfather' of tooth bleaching. Dentists will also receive a complimentary Boutique whitening kit with a market value of $300 when they order the training program.
The five main components of the 56-page “blueprint” are as follows:
#1: Understanding the whitening market, and the advantages that a dental practice has over their competition.
#2: How to avoid the five biggest teeth whitening myths or mistakes.
#3: Debunking false beliefs, and how to successfully treat two stains. “And that really is the science and the patient compliance part,” Douglas adds.
#4: How the dental team can identify patients that are considering whitening, increase or improve their patient acceptance rates by converting them into paying customers.
#5: How to integrate the practice with Boutique, using their complimentary and bespoke package.
All in the package
Without giving too much away, Douglas says the program developers favour the home whitening method over in-chair whitening – “it makes better business sense for the practice as well as the patient getting far superior results.”
While customers are welcomed to use Boutique’s whitening products, Douglas insists the program isn’t tied to any brand per se. That is not to say he isn’t confident about his products. In fact, Boutique offers a full refund if customers are not completely satisfied with their kits. There’s no catch with the paltry $37 program fee as well.
“$37 represents a micro commitment to signal one’s interest,” he emphasises.
“We believe that if you follow the framework and build these protocols in, you’ll get really good results.”