Tips for Chairside Whitening


More Than Cleaning

Incorporate elective services into routine visits

Standardizing and organizing examination protocols creates a framework for recare and restorative visits. Here is an “old school” way to integrate whitening acceptance into your daily routine. The two key pieces of equipment for this tip are: a hand mirror and a shade guide.

Shade GuideOne way to increase whitening business is for assistants and hygienists to make a habit of doing a “color analysis” for each patient. With the patient looking into a mirror, simply say to them, “We know that teeth can change color over time. What I’d like to do now is to determine the current color of your teeth. I’ll need your help with this part.” This immediately gets the patient involved in their care and gives you an opportunity to talk whitening options.

Each operatory (hygiene too) should be equipped with shade guides. Set it up from lightest to darkest; make sure the shade guide also includes newer ‘bleaching’ colors. Hold the shade guide so that your patient can see the colors.

Next, have the patient guide the selection of the shade–this gives them an idea of what their teeth could look like. If your patient has an interest in whitening, he/she will normally take up the issue with you and you will have permission to ask other questions. These might include: “Other than the color shifts, is there anything else that you notice about your smile?”

Thanks to mainstream media, talk shows and magazines, patients are more knowledgeable about tooth discoloration, malodor and the importance of a healthy mouth to overall health. Incorporating something as basic as a shade guide review (at least yearly) is a powerful way to make regular inquiries into all of your aesthetic services.

Tips and Pointers in Selecting Shades

  • For most accurate results, the colors in the room should be neutral as well as the patient’s clothes. Drape the patient with a neutral gray bib or towel when taking a shade. It neutralizes the eyes’ color perception.
  • Female patients: If applicable, remove lipstick.
  • Make sure teeth are not dehydrated.
  • The mouth of the patient should be at eye level.
  • Determine the amber or gray color type of the patient.
  • Determine the base shade of the patient and remove matching shade group (Chromascope).
  • Determine the shade intensity within the shade group.
  • Compare the selected shade once again with the natural tooth.
  • Color Map: Note range of shade, striations, and color banding or mottling. Close examination will reveal a blending of various colors.
  • Collaborative Whitening: All team members can perform color assessments.

In sum, incorporating simple, “old school” basics into your protocols will help your patients understand the full menu of services offered by your practice and can help drive elective procedures such as whitening