Do the White Thing

Q. I am thinking about adding teeth-whitening treatments to my spa menu. Is this advisable? What are some of the issues I should address to guarantee a successful teeth-whitening business?

A. When considering any business expansion opportunity, you should start by looking at the potential revenue minus the capital, operational, and opportunity costs. Because teeth whitening is often thought of more as a beauty treatment than a dental procedure, it makes perfect sense to offer it in a spa setting. According to Luis Lajous, founder and CEO of Beaming White, it is possible to team up with a reputable supplier with a high-end professional teeth-whitening package for under $1,500. He says, if you charge at least $100 per treatment, you can pay off your investment with just 15 clients. “A good lamp will last 50 years with above-average use,” says Lajous. “So it really is one of the most profitable services a spa can offer today.”

As with any treatment your spa offers, you want to make sure you’re delivering the results your clients expect. This is why it’s so important to do the research beforehand to determine what supplier to use as well as what type of gel and kit will deliver the best results for your clients. To make the most informed decision, go online, research products, and consider using a third-party consultant. You may even want to consult with or hire a dentist to help you make an informed decision.

According to Lajous, choosing between hydrogen peroxide (HP) and carbamide peroxide (CP), the two types of gel available in the teeth-whitening industry, can be one of the most important decisions you make. According to him, CP, which is made by adding urea to HP, is more shelf-stable. However, when used, CP must first break down into HP before the whitening begins. “This means that you need to perform 30- to 40-minute treatments with it in order to get the same results that an equivalent HP gel provides in 15 to 20 minutes,” says Lajous. Leaving the system on for 15 minutes or so will ultimately supply no real bleaching, but the teeth will look whiter for a day or two due to dehydration of the enamel. After that time, color regression will occur, and the teeth will return to their pre-treatment color.

HP is not without its shortcomings, though, one of which is a shorter shelf life. Storing it in a refrigerator can extend its effectiveness up to a year, although Lajous recommends you only purchase what you’ll need in the next three months. HP can also be a bit harsher on the gums than CP. As both have advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to consider how you want to package your treatments to deliver the best results.

Your biggest decision by far, however, is whether or not teeth whitening is a treatment you want to offer. If you operate a medical spa, then the inclusion of a teeth-whitening practice will probably not be much of a stretch, as your employees should already be familiar with basic medical protocols. Compliance, at any rate, will certainly be easier to achieve. However, if this is not the case, you need to be aware of all the implications. “There are many important aspects to teeth whitening that service providers need to understand in order to be successful offering the service,” says Lajous. “The first thing they should know is that they cannot touch the customer’s mouth, as doing so would be considered practicing dentistry without a license.” For that reason, the treatment must be self-administered, meaning the client must insert and remove anything from their mouth.

Because gum tissue can be sensitive from aggressive flossing or poor dental hygiene, it is possible to cross the blood barrier, where medical liability may come into play. While such cases are rare, it only takes one to damage the business profile of your spa. Be sure your staff is properly trained to avoid such situations. Also be sure all clients sign a consent form, which should be supplied for free by your chosen supplier.

If you choose to include a whitening program at your spa, it is important to offer adjunct retail in the form of touch-up pens, take-home kits, and teeth-whitening headsets with blue LED. Even if you decide to forego the inclusion of teeth-whitening treatments, you may still decide to add teeth-whitening products to your retail lineup.

If you opt to add teeth-whitening services to your menu, it’s essential you consider it seriously. If you’re committed to the idea, indemnify you and your spa by investing in the proper training and ensuring that your facilities are up to code and compliant with the necessary federal, state, and local ordinances. Do the necessary homework and then some, and, above all, be sure to make it a safe and hygienic experience that leaves your clients flashing their pearly whites.

Lighten Up
Want to help brighten the smiles of your clients? Consider introducing products from the following teeth-whitening companies.

Beaming White
(866) 944-8315

Beyond WhiteSpa
(281) 277-4352

Extreme Pearly Whites
(866) 203-2330

Go Smile
(510) 809-2030

Luster Premium White
(800) 823-5272

(800) 784-7645

White Science
(866) 709-4483

Whiter Image
(877) 944-8330

Xpress Smile
(888) 838-5193