The White Stuff


A holistic approach to spa services is routine these days, and yet somehow, teeth are often forgotten in the whole body, mind, and soul approach to health and wellness. Instead of overlooking those not-so-pearly whites, spas can grow their customer base and revenue stream by offering teeth whitening. “We have seen about a 600 percent increase with teeth whitening in spas and salons in the past year, even with the economy,” says Dane Rodriguez, owner of NuYu Teeth Whitening. “Teeth whitening reaches such a broad market, it really opens up the clientele base.”

It’s a great additional service to offer clients with stained teeth from coffee, tea, tobacco, or red wine. And it doesn’t require a big investment of money, time, or facility space. Spa professionals can earn certification via Skype, phone, or onsite visits from teeth-whitening companies accredited by the Cosmetic Council for Teeth Whitening (CCTW) and use massage tables or chairs already in the facility. “It’s an easy, hands-off service that yields anywhere from a 700 to 900 percent markup and about five minutes per client,” says Rodriguez.

He says Classic Beauty Concepts (Arlington, TX), which offers NuYu Teeth Whitening, has brought in more than 100 new clients—and about $2,000 extra each month—by offering this service. Rodriguez adds that spa owner Dixie Medford says she likes the fact that it’s not a hands-on procedure because this gives her time to rest in between performing permanent makeup procedures and training. Another NuYu success story is Ariada Salon, Day Spa & Boutique (Glendale, CA), which has incorporated teeth whitening and is seeing, on average, two to three clients a day for it, bringing in more than $6,000 added income monthly.

Now that the economy is on the upswing, spa-goers have more money to spend on aesthetic services. But they may not want to pay dentist office prices for teeth whitening, and a spa setting makes for a more relaxing, enjoyable experience. “If you go to a dentist, you’re going to pay $400, $600, even $800,” says Beyond Dental and Health’s Arturo Paiva, director of sales for North and Latin America. “You can go to an aesthetic center or spa and pay $200 for the same results but with the spa pampering.”

And while over-the-counter white strips cost less, the results can take up to a month to show, which makes in-spa teeth whitening more appealing, says Paiva. “It’s a market that’s going to keep on growing,” he says. “People are using different means to get their teeth whitened—either they buy a pen or strips at the store, or they go to a dentist’s office. You might as well offer the service in your spa. It’s faster than any take-home service and cheaper than going to a dentist.”

It’s the whitening gel, not the blue LED light, that actually whitens teeth, explains Beaming White’s Luis Lajous. The light accelerates the reaction of the peroxide gel, which allows the spa guest to see results in a matter of minutes. “What happens is that the peroxide is activated by the wavelength of the blue light, and when the peroxide reacts and releases oxygen in the dentin layer, it bleaches the stains that are there,” he says. “It does not remove the stains, just whitens them.”

And, says Lajous, there is no reason why spas should not offer this service. “This is a $14 billion industry, and it’s growing,” he says. “We hear that it is the most requested beauty procedure around the world. Today, the cost of equipment and supplies is so low that every spa should be offering it.”

A high-end professional teeth-whitening package costs less than $1,500, he says, and spas can charge $100 or more per treatment. “So you pay off your investment with 15 customers,” says Lajous. “Everything else flows to the bottom line for the rest of your life. A good lamp will last 50 years with above-average use, so it really is one of the most profitable services a spa can offer today.”

Spas should take into account that they can’t use the same strength gel as a dental office. A dentist uses gel that is three times stronger and shows marked results in three treatments, so don’t expect to get the exact same results. “The importance of the first treatment is that the hydrogen peroxide opens the pores in the enamel as it dehydrates them,” Lajous explains. “This makes the teeth look a little whiter, but the color will certainly return within a few days when the teeth rehydrate. However, once you have performed the first treatment, you can take advantage of the open pores and perform one or two more treatments. Because the pores in the enamel are open, the peroxide can go through the enamel down to the dentin layer, where deep, lasting whitening takes place.”

It may take a little longer, but the end result will be whiter teeth and happier customers. “If you ask your customers whether they would rather spend 15 minutes to whiten their teeth and get mediocre results, or if they would prefer to spend an hour, get three 15- to 20-minute treatments, and have much better results that will last a long time, they will tell you that the hour is fine,” says Lajous.

Instead of simply offering teeth whitening, spas can take it a step further and turn part of the space into a dental office or partner with a dentist to offer in-spa dental services. “So many diseases—diabetes, high blood pressure, pulmonary conditions, even Alzheimer’s—are related to oral care,” says Marc Brian Nock, D.D.S., who founded Zenthea (New York City), combining the philosophy and physical comfort of a spa with the tools and equipment of a dental office. Its “zentists” (fully trained dentists), dental staff, and massage therapists offer clients everything from routine cleanings and root canals to aromatherapy and foot massage. “Take something like getting a facial with extractions,” Nock says. “It’s not necessarily the most comfortable thing, and yet, people still look forward to it. Why isn’t that possible in the dental world? I tried to take some of these ideas from the spa world.”

While investing in pricey machines and equipment or building a dental spa within a spa may be cost prohibitive, Nock suggests spas partner with a local dentist, either referring clients to the dental office for treatment or bringing the dentist into the spa to offer services such as teeth whitening. This adds services to the spa menu and brings new customers through the doors. Plus, once they’ve visited the spa, they’re more likely to book additional appointments. Also, having an on-site dentist can help alleviate health and liability concerns. “We take X-rays before we put bleach on the teeth, because it’s quite possible the bleach is going to hurt them, and you don’t know that unless you have dental training,” says Nock.

Know the laws, which differ from state to state, before offering teeth whitening. In most states, only dentists are legally allowed to put whitening gel on the teeth, which is why most spas require the customer to apply the gel to his or her own teeth. Similarly, spa owners should check with their insurance providers to make sure they are covered in case of a lawsuit, says Nock. Rodriguez recommends using a company certified by the CCTW. “Any credible teeth-whitening company in the industry should have a master list as to which states do not allow cosmetic teeth whitening,” he says, adding that only a handful of states don’t allow the procedure.

Do not perform teeth-whitening procedures on clients with any open cavities or gum disease, says Clareblend educator Jan Lamb. “We always recommend a cleaning from the dentist before clients come in for teeth whitening, because that is going to give us optimum results,” she says. After the procedure, advise clients not to eat or drink anything except water for one hour, and avoid staining agents, such as coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, cola, citrus drinks, and fruits, adds Lajous. “The pores in the enamel remain open for 24 hours, so the teeth are very vulnerable to stains during this time,” he explains.

To best incorporate the new service, try it out on existing spa clients to gauge demand and generate buzz, Rodriguez suggests. “We help new clients market a Blast day, which is an introductory whitening event with discounted rates for all existing clientele. These events average 15 to 30 clients in a one- or two-day period,” he says.

Lamb suggests hosting an open house and inviting the spa’s best clients to come in for discounted teeth whitening. “I also like having teeth-whitening treatment rooms at the front of the spa so people see those clients going in and out of that area, and you can have a DVD playing that shows the process,” she says.

Another idea is to create a spa package around teeth whitening and a tan, offering discounts on both services. Use social media, Paiva says, and try Facebook and Groupon campaigns to let a broad audience know about the spa’s new service. “This brings in clients to get their teeth whitened. Even if you sell it at your cost, you bring them in, and now they’re aware of your location and all the other services you offer.”

MediSpa & Salon (College Station, TX) owner Neal Maracchini, whose spa offers Beyond Dental teeth whitening, says he ran a Google ad words campaign to help with online marketing and also ran a promotional deal where clients could purchase a card and receive five different services at discounted prices, including teeth whitening. After eight months, MediSpa & Salon has performed 159 procedures, he says. “It has become 4.3 percent of our sales revenue, and we’ve noticed a return on investment in about six months,” he says. “A few have come back for additional teeth-whitening services, and some people bring in friends or family members. It does help attract new clients.” And everyone walks away smiling.


Thinking of offering teeth-whitening services in your spa? Check out the offerings from the following companies.


Beaming White Advanced Whitening Kit: Self administered and comfortable, this kit includes an applicator pen, a cheek retractor, a bib, a finger wipe, and a vitamin E swab.

Beyond Dental Beyond II Complete: This professional system is ideal for whitening tetracycline and severe stains.


Clareblend Pearl White: This professional FDA-registered dental system utilizes an LED hand-held mouthpiece for optimum gel activation.


Dr. Collins All White Teeth Bleaching System 22% CP: This take-home system features professional-strength 22% carbamide and customizable trays. Whiter teeth can been observed after just a few uses and with little to no sensitivity pain.


NuYu Teeth Whitening Systems: Comprehensive packages include training, treatment chairs, mouth trays, vents for breathing, and padding.


PearlBrite Professional Teeth Whitening: This self-administered cosmetic teeth-whitening procedure is a 20-minute process.


SuperSmile Quikee Instant Whitening Polish: On-the-go instant stain removal is made possible using a formula made with Calprox and urea hydrogen peroxide, which work together to whiten teeth and promote long-lasting fresh breath.


Whiter Image Teeth Whitening System: This premium LED teeth-whitening system is safe, fast, and offers profit margins up to $100 per hour.