Items filtered by date: August 2019
Discoloration, caused by either extrinsic or intrinsic stains, is a remarkably common concern. As dentists, we all want our patients to feel happy and satisfied with the appearance of their teeth. At a time when the value of the global teeth whitening market is rising at an almost unprecedented rate — now exceeding $3.2 million according to the American Dental Association — it’s natural that many people are beginning to look into at-home treatments. But should you recommend these systems to your patients?
Is At-Home Teeth Whitening Safe?
The official line from the American Dental Association is that at-home whitening systems, including trays, strips, pastes, and rinses, are generally safe to use, and can be effective at minimising the appearance of discoloration from the use of certain medicines, removing surface stains from food and drink intake, and lightening and brightening teeth that have become darker with age. However, as a dentist it is essential to understand the risks of at-home teeth whitening, and ensure that all patients are aware of these risks before using any at-home kits, regardless whether they are purchased over-the-counter or from your office.
Teeth Whitening Risks
Perhaps the most common side effect of teeth whitening is a notable increase in tooth sensitivity, which the ADA estimates affects up to 41% of all patients who undergo a whitening procedure. Gum irritation is also frequently noted, especially when using off-the-shelf trays which have not been purpose-made to match the size, shape, and layout of the individual’s mouth. This is due to movement of the tray and rubbing.
However, the risks are understood to go above and beyond these minor side effects, with a study in the British Dental Journal reporting that products containing sodium chlorite could actually increase the chance of extrinsic stains through the creation of greater surface abrasions, giving stains more to adhere to. The study also noted cases of infections, blistering, and burns as a result of using bleaching gels.
And that’s not all. While more investigation into the area is needed, researchers have posed the idea of cellular damage as a result of peroxide-based products with the potential for peroxide to interact with DNA to have a wider impact upon human health as a whole. Peroxide has been cited as a carcinogenic, an irritant, and a cytotoxic. Dentists should be aware of this when recommending products.
While dentists may wish to recommend at-home whitening products to those presenting with healthy teeth which are in good condition, other options are available that may well prove to be safer overall.
Dentist-administered whitening treatments carried out by a trained professional may be offered as an alternative, while mild extrinsic stains often respond positively to the Gazelle nanocomposite polisher which restores and shines the surface of the teeth with either a satin or high gloss finish. The results may not be as significant as those that can be achieved through dedicated teeth whitening systems, but polishing can be hugely effective at minimising surface stains and creating a brighter appearance. And best of all, it's safe!
Did you know that dental office overheads are amongst the highest across all industries? According to the American Dental Association, who analyzed figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average overhead for dental practices in the US stands at almost 75% (74.62% to be exact); much higher than the 35% that is typically agreed to be standard for well-performing organizations.
It’s no secret that running a busy and successful dental practice can be costly, but overheads of nearly 75% can — and should — be avoided to ensure a solid and stable financial future for the firm.
Here are 3 easy-to-implement ways to minimize outgoings and reduce dental overheads:
1. Switch Supplier
A major challenge that dentists are facing is that many patients are finding it difficult to access the necessary care they need due to rising healthcare costs. A Health Policy Institute Report by the ADA confirms that 40% of American adults do not attend dental appointments because they cannot afford to do so. As a dentist, it is tempting to purchase cheaper, lower quality supplies to reduce the cost of dental work for our patients, but in doing so practices could find that they’re actually paying out much more.
Low cost, low quality tools and equipment not only put our patients’ health at risk, but in many cases also increase the number of products we need to buy. Many low quality polishers, for example, can crumble easily, meaning that they’re unable to fully complete the job they were designed to do. Similarly, the industry is seeing a rise in ‘absorbent’ pads which aren’t absorbent, and burs with very short life spans. Higher quality burs like NeoBurr, are up to 70% stronger than other brands.
2. Automate Processes
Automation is a hot topic right now, and it’s working its way into practically every industry. One industry that appears reluctant to implement new technology, however, is dentistry. While advanced technologies such as robotics are certainly a long way from being introduced into the average practice in the US, there are many other forms of automation that do have a place. Predictable tasks, such as appointment setting, repeat ordering, and staff rotation, for example, can all be managed by dedicated software.
In automating many front-of-house and management processes, practices could find that they’re able to free up their valuable internal resources for other, more productive, profit-making tasks such as marketing. More pressingly, automation not only removes the need for skilled employees to spend their time completing mundane tasks, but could actually help to improve attendance rates, too. One study found that no-shows (which can be costly) can be reduced by 23% with automated reminders.
3. Know Your Audience
Marketing plays a significant role in the overall success of dental practices, helping to raise awareness of the unique skills and experience of the team and getting local patients through the doors. Marketing is certainly an area that’s worth creating a budget for, but one of the primary concerns right now is that dental practices are wasting this budget by failing to tailor their marketing campaign to their niche audience, and are instead attempting to appeal to a very widespread and broad demographic.
As dentists, we all have a commitment to both promoting and encouraging good oral care for everyone, so it’s natural to want to market the dental practice to all demographics. However, in terms of financial responsibility, it is perhaps more effective for practices to customize their campaigns specifically to attract and engage those most likely to visit a dentist. Colgate reports that women are twice as likely to visit a dentist as men, for example, so campaigns tailored to men could end up being money down the drain.