FAQs – Teeth Whitening and Employee Tools for New Dentists

Burkhart’s Practice Support Team provides support to doctors throughout the year by answering hundreds of questions that come through our toll-free number and email. It is our pleasure to provide answers and resources, at no fee, to all our Burkhart clients. We want to share some of this year’s most frequently asked questions and answers.


Q: We offer several types of whitening services, how can we increase our patient acceptance?
A: Creating a protocol that includes evaluating each patient’s smile promoting additional whitening services. Dental teams spend hours improving their clinical skills through CE courses and hands-on training. Increasing whitening, or any other esthetic treatment, involves improving your listening and patient interview skills. This includes ascertaining the patient’s desire to whiten his or her smile as well as recording initial shades during the hygiene visit. Showing your patient his or her initial shade on the shade guide will elevate the patient’s oral health awareness and open possibilities for discussion. Display whitening options and associated fees in the hygiene ops and check-out area.
Patients are often unaware of how reasonably priced whitening services have become so they hesitate to initiate the conversation. If you offer chairside whitening, include the phrasing, “Would you also like to whiten your teeth at that appointment?” each time a hygiene visit is scheduled. Whitening options should be included in all comprehensive treatment plans. If the ultimate goal is to provide an exceptional, referral-worthy patient experience, focus on increasing the team’s ability to actively listen while also challenging your patients by weaving thought-provoking questions into your conversations.

Q: My case acceptance rate could be higher. Do you have any tips I can pass on to my employees to increase the number of patients accepting treatment?
A: Your case acceptance is reliant on several things working well:
1. The transition of information from the RDH—Doctor should engage the patient and include a synopsis of the patient’s periodontal and restorative status as well as aesthetic desires. The doctor’s exam should occur mid-way through the appointment, allowing the patient time to process options discussed and the front office staff time to put together the financial part of the treatment plan.
2. For larger cases, a “ball park estimate” given by the dentist will help the patient understand the amount of investment and potentially open further discussion about treatment options.
3. The clinician should engage the patient again during the transition to the front desk team. Verbally stating the prioritized treatment plan in front of the patient and the treatment coordinator helps to summarize and solidify the plan for both the front desk and the patient.
4. The front desk staff make the plan affordable and get it scheduled. They should be armed with phrases to use when patients don’t schedule, such as, “Are there any challenges I can help you with to get the needed treatment started?” All too often, patients have some type of challenge—usually financial—and aren’t comfortable bringing up the topic. Knowing they can make a payment, or use an outside funding option, may be all they need. Display outside funding options to make them more accessible.

Q: How can we effectively build reasonable patient expectations for whitening results?
A: Teeth whitening can provide stunning results that make your patients proud of their smile. It can also provide less-than-desired results leaving your patients frustrated. The less-than-desired results are often a product of reduced compliance to the whitening program. Sensitivity is the leading cause of reduced compliance. Offer a toothpaste with a prescription level of fluoride and potassium nitrate to reduce sensitivity and give patients the opportunity to continue to whiten.

Start with an initial shade and be realistic with the results the patient could expect, generally 2-3 shades lighter. Discuss difficult cases, such as tetracycline staining, and let your patients be prepared to whiten for an extended period to achieve the results they want. A good rule of thumb is to make every effort to eliminate surprises for your patients. Let them know what to expect about results and sensitivity to reduce frustration for both patients and the practice.

Q: As a new practice owner, what should I provide my employees?
A: An employee manual, job descriptions, accountability measurements and regular feedback are important ways to make sure your employees will be successful and the practice will thrive. Employee manuals not only provide information on how your practice operates, they set policies to manage employees in a fair and consistent manner. The manual serves as a communication link to reference benefit questions, operating policies and the practice vision. It also serves to keep the dentist in compliance with federal and state regulations.

Job descriptions, tailored to each position, provide clarity and accountability for employees. Regular feedback in the form of performance reviews and goal setting tell your employees you care about their success and their impact on the growth of the practice. A written format for reviews provides documentation for the employee and the employer. In the case of employee termination, these documents become a valuable part of the employee record.

Q: Do you have sample job descriptions?
A: Yes, we do. We provide resources and consulting advice, on a complimentary basis, to all our Burkhart clients.


How can we help you? The Practice Support Team has years of combined business and dental expertise. Call or email us to see how we can help you.
1.800.665.5323 | practicesupportteam@burkhartdental.com

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