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Everything you need to know to start your own teeth whitening business

How to build a professional teeth whitening business and make $10K/month

Anyone paying attention to the market will have noticed the growing popularity of teeth whitening services, and you might have spotted the potential for a teeth whitening business in your own local market. If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, then this guide is for you. Here, we’re going to look at a whole host of different factors to consider when building a teeth whitening business and, most importantly, how to make a success out of it.

We’ll break down this post in two main sections, Part 1 will be all about the business of professional teeth whitening and Part 2 will be how to actually do the whitenings in a professional way. 

Part 1 - The Business

First, let’s take a look at everything you have to set up to ensure that you have a business that is ready and licensed to start providing whitening treatments.

Check the regulations

Depending on where you are setting up, there are going to be different regulations that you have to follow to ensure that you are qualified to open up a teeth whitening business. In some states, such as Texas, there is currently no need for a dental license to be able to operate a professional teeth whitening program.

Meanwhile, In Florida, dental hygienists can provide whitening treatments, but dental assistants cannot. In California, only registered dental professionals can perform whitening services. D.C., Nevada, and Tennessee have policies in place that prohibit the service by individuals other than dental personnel. Such policies are also pending in  Oklahoma, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Take the time to check what regulations apply in your state, or where you’re based in Canada and the UK. Each state or area has its own stance, and this matter is a rapidly evolving one, too.

Setting up your business

If you have an existing business that you want to add teeth whitening services to, you should skip the section. Otherwise, you are going to need the following to set up a teeth whitening business:

  • Set up a legal structure for your business. It’s recommended in most cases that you set up as a limited liability company (LLC), to protect yourself as an individual and to put liability on the business. 
  • Set up a business bank account and keep it separate from your personal finances. This is legally required in the case of an LLC, but even for other business structures, keeping finances separate helps organize things when dealing with taxes.
  • Establish a line of credit with the best business credit cards available, such as Spark Capital 1, the Ink Business Cash Credit Card, or Blue Business Plus from American Express.
  • Establish an arrangement with a payment processor, such as Stripe or Square, to be able to accept payments and deposits to your business account.
  • Purchase business insurance from providers like Allstate, CNA Financial, Liberty Mutual, and Nationwide, to cover your costs in the case of emergencies.

Budgeting your business

Regardless of whether you’re opening a new business or expanding your business to include teeth whitening services, you’re going to have a whole new financial status quo that you have to manage. Establishing a budget can help you quickly get on top of your business finances, and help you manage your cash flow, effectively, better enabling you to avoid financial projects in the future.

Setting a monthly budget

In order to plan a budget effectively, you have to know your costs inside and out. Take the time to analyze your costs, including fixed costs, and variable costs, and update it month-by-month. If any one-time or unexpected costs come along, make sure that they’re included too. From your rent to salaries to the services and software you pay for, they should all be in here. If you have to estimate, it’s better to overestimate than underestimate. Do the same for all of your income, so that you have a clear comparison of what is going in vs. what is going out.

Establishing budgetary goals

Your first budget should be a look at how your finances currently stand. After that, however, you may want to set goals on how you can change your budget. This can include decreasing your outgoings or increasing your incoming money. You can look at reducing unnecessary spending now, or find strategies to be able to scale back your costs in the event of uncertain economic times.

Managing your expenses

Regardless of your goals, keeping an eye on your expenses is vital. You want to make sure that they never start climbing too high. You can do this in a number of ways, from working out which costs you can cut, to negotiating with your suppliers or consolidating services or software with one provider to reduce costs instead of going with a range of different providers.

How to price compared to the market

The price of the services provided by your teeth whitening business is going to depend on a range of factors, such as your location, the specific kind of teeth whitening you offer, and more. It’s important to price effectively, striking the balance between having a profitable service and remaining affordable enough for your target market to be able to pay for your services, but you also have to consider the market that you’re in. 

There is no comprehensive data on what different offices charge for their dental whitening services. As such, we’ve compiled a range of whitening offices in the country, and how much they say their services cost

  • Blyss Dental estimates an average cost of $500-$1000 for both in-office bleaching and laser whitening.
  • Platt Family Dentistry estimates an average cost of $1000 for a laser whitening treatment and $600 for in-office bleaching.
  • Definitive Dental estimates an average cost of $300 for deep bleaching and $500 for Zoom! Whitening
  • Northside Dental estimates an average cost of $650 for a full teeth whitening treatment
  • Dr Jacquie Smiles estimates an average cost of $99 to $599 for in-office teeth whitening treatment.
  • Culver City Dentist United Dental Care estimates an average cost of $400-$1800 for in-office teeth whitening
  • Max Arocha DMD estimates an average cost of $450-750 for in-office teeth whitening
  • Independent Dental Group estimates an average cost of $650 to $1500 for an in-office teeth whitening.
  • Authority Dental estimates an average cost of $300 per arch for professional in-office teeth whitening.
  • Manhattan Dental Spa estimates an average cost of $200 to $1000 for professional in-office whitening treatment
  • San Diego Smiles by Design Dentistry estimates an average cost of $300 to $1000 for in-office whitening procedures.
  • Island Dental Family and Cosmetic Dentistry estimates an average cost of $650 to $1000 for professional teeth whitening.
  • Trident Smile Dental estimates an average cost of $500 for opalescence boost, $600 for Zoom whitening, and $750 for laser whitening
  • Nowak Family Dental estimates an average cost of $400 to $800 for in-office teeth whitening.
  • Brian K. Dennis, DDS estimates an average cost of $300 to $1000 for in-office whitening treatments
  • Rejuvenation Health estimates an average cost of $300 to £500 for a session of in-office bleaching, and $500 to $1000 per session of laser whitening
  • LA Dental estimates an average cost of $100 to $500 per tooth whitening treatment.
  • Town Center Dental estimates an average cost of $650 to $1000 for professional in-office teeth whitening.
  • Aesthetic Dental Center estimates an average cost of $354 per arch of their Opalescence Boost treatment
  • Inwood Village Dental estimates an average cost of $500 to $1000 per treatment.

If you want to know where to set your own prices to work within your own market, then it’s a good idea to research the costs of the nearest teeth whitening providers in your own area.

Building your tech stack

Nowadays, most modern businesses are going to require a range of technologies to run and grow their operations, and that’s no different for teeth whitening businesses, either. Especially if you want to create a clean and efficient customer experience when shopping or booking appointments. Here, we’re going to quickly run down some options and what they can do for you:

  • Booking software like Acuity Scheduling and Tidycat can help you automate the process of scheduling appointments, payments, and bookings, helping you avoid human errors such as conflicting appointments.
  • Texting follow-ups like TextMagic can help you keep in contact with patients, reminding them of appointments, due payments, and more.
  • Webhook software like Zapier integrates your online tools, such as website widgets, with your apps to help streamline data transfer between your tech.
  • Expense tracking from tools like Quickbooks makes it easier to keep track of business expenses, allowing you to keep an eye on costs and create a budget.
  • Site build tools like Webflow can make it easier to build your own professional website for clients to visit to learn about your services and make appointments.
  • Site hosting/registration services like GoDaddy get your website online, making your website accessible to users of the world wide web.
  • Virtual phone systems like Grasshopper make it easy to manage calls, texts, extensions, custom greetings, voicemail, and more through a digital interface.
  • Landing page builders like ClickFunnels help you build landing pages that are designed to funnel your website visitors towards the services that they’re searching for.
  • Email marketing software like SendFox makes it much easier to build and send attractive marketing emails and can help you manage your mailing list, too.
  • Customer referral software such as ReferalCandy helps you operate a referral marketing program, rewarding past clients for recommending your services.
  • Display banners on site can be made with tools like Optinly, allowing you to create a floating bar campaign to market to subscribers naturally within the site.
  • Display reviews on site with tools like Elfsight, automating the process of taking reviews from past patients so others can see them.

Which software you decide to rely on depends on your own priorities, though many of the above have real benefits to offer any size of teeth whitening business.

Part 2 - The Whitening Process

The teeth whitening process can be fairly daunting for someone that doesn’t have much experience or knowledge about dentistry so we broke down over a decade of experience into a comprehensive guide on how you can learn to do professional teeth whitening without any prior knowledge. 

What Is Teeth Whitening?

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure that aims to whiten teeth. It does this by essentially bleaching your teeth to remove stains, producing a naturally white tooth color.

But how exactly do our teeth stain in the first place?

There are a number of ways. For starters, there’s demineralization. This refers to the loss of minerals in teeth such as calcium and phosphate from our tooth enamel. This enamel can slowly be stripped away depending on the types of food and drink that you consume. Bacteria in the mouth can also lead to demineralization. When this occurs, the enamel becomes weak and it increases the chance of decay and staining.

Speaking of decay, this is another form of damage. This is often referred to as dental caries or cavities and happens when the enamel on our teeth is eroded, leading to damage. While this does change the appearance of our teeth, it’s not something that whitening typically deals with as it’s actual damage to the tooth and not just staining.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Staining

And this is where we get two different types of staining: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains occur due to physical damage to the teeth. Extrinsic stains are from substances like tea and coffee, and thus is the main target of whitening agents.

Due to the presence of both intrinsic and extrinsic stains, it’s essential to check the mouth of your client before bleaching their teeth. The bleaching process can only really help if they have extrinsic stains. If they are intrinsic, they will likely need to be referred to a dentist to help with issues like decay. If you’re unable to tell the difference, whitening could provide zero benefit which leads to unsatisfied customers! The good news is the vast majority of teeth staining that people have is extrinsic and therefore are great candidates for teeth whitening as those stains can be removed and results can be achieved in 1-2 sessions. 

What Do You Need to Start a Teeth Whitening Business?

A teeth whitening business can be seen as a clinic. As such, you’re going to need a bunch of different things.

The Office

First, you want an office where you can discuss teeth whitening with your patients. This will include basic things like a desk, comfortable chairs, a few decorations to make the place more inviting and comfortable, and also computers to manage your business. The exact things you’ll want to buy are going to depend on the overall design and feeling of your teeth whitening business, so it helps to work together with a designer if you want it to stand out.

Whitening Supplies

Next, you’ll need supplies for whitening.

The first supply you’ll need is a whitening gel. The most popular two variations contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as active bleaching agents. The amount of peroxide in the gels usually varies from concentrations of 6% up to 40%. The purpose of different concentrations is to tailor the

  • 6% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Can be used for 60-90 minutes and is great for people who have very sensitive teeth but still want to get results.
  • 20% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Typically used for no more than an hour. The lowest concentration and often used for lighter stains.
  • 35% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Used at most for 20 minutes to remove darker stains. Can be used for advanced whitening which lasts an hour, but requires a gingival barrier to protect the gums.
  • 40% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Used for around 15 minutes to beat stronger staining. Can also be used as a touch-up across 30 minutes, but also requires a barrier for the gums.
  • 35% Carbamide Peroxide
  • A general rule of thumb is Carbamide Peroxide is a third less powerful of a gel compared to it’s Hydrogen Peroxide counterpart.  A procedure with this gel lasts around 30-60 minutes at most and is a great primer used before hydrogen peroxide to maximize results in a single visit. It can be used to remove one or two shades of staining without causing sensitivity issues.

Whitening lights are also required. The purpose of the light is to help break down the gel, speeding up the chemical reaction which allows it to quickly penetrate the enamel. We highly recommend both Beyond and Zoom as our personal whitening lights of choice. It’s very important when choosing a light solution that you do not buy lower quality brands that dont have a strong enough light (Halogen or LED) to properly activate the whitening gel. 

How to Whitening Teeth

Now that we’ve gone through the basics of teeth whitening and the equipment needed, we’re going to talk about how the process works and what you personally need to do. There’s a lot to learn here, but thankfully we’ve got a full Whitening Training Doc that you can read through at your leisure. It includes a step-by-step process of how the appointments will go so that you know exactly what to do.

But to give a general summary, here’s what happens:

Consultation Stage

Before any teeth whitening occurs, it’s important to have a general consultation and ask questions. This includes things like if they’ve had teeth whitening before, what their results were like if so, and also answering any questions they might have. It’s very important to state that teeth whitening doesn't last forever and should generally be accompanied by better dental habits to ensure a long-lasting effect.

In addition, you should ask to look at the patient’s teeth to check for any signs of decay or damage that cannot be treated with whitening alone. If you attempt to whiten a patient’s teeth that are physically damaged, then it will lead to poor results and unhappy clients. During the consultation this is also a great time to take “before” photos so you can show them the before and after results once their treatment is complete. 

Teeth Whitening Preparation

First, we start with the preparation. This includes setting up a mouth tray on the patient which will give you a clear view of their teeth and gums to help you apply the gels. You’ll also want to prepare your own equipment, such as the gels being used and their related syringes. In the case of peroxide, you’ll want to use them with special tips that make it easy to apply the gel, and also a gingival barrier that protects the gums from the gel.

The patient will also need a few things to keep comfortable, such as eyewear protection when you start using the whitening lights, and also a bib to protect their clothing during the process.

Teeth Whitening Process

A general teeth whitening procedure will go as follows:

  • Ensure patients are comfortable in the chair and have a bib to protect their clothing.
  • Apply a small dab of vaseline on a Q-tip to help keep the patient’s lips from drying and to make it easier to apply the mouth tray.
  • Make sure the tray fits and that the lips are away from the teeth and the gums are clearly visible.
  • Place the face shield around the mouth tray and the flaps down alongside it.
  • Put the protective goggles on your patient.
  • Let them know that you’ll be starting.

It’s a good time to now double-check that you are using the correct teeth whitening solutions.

  • Start by applying the gingival barrier to protect the patient’s gums. This only applies if you are using a peroxide-based teeth whitening gel. If there is even a little bit of their gums showing, you must ensure it is covered. Remember to discard the gingival barrier syringe.
  • Harden the barrier with a curing light or full light for around half a minute.
  • Clean the teeth briefly with a finger wipe. Any moisture will lower the effectiveness of the gel and could slow down the whitening process.
  • Let the patient know that you’ll now start to place the whitening gel on their teeth. Kindly ask that they stay as still as possible during this process as the gel can potentially irritate skin.
  • Let the patient know that if they feel an uncomfortable burning sensation or if their teeth feel very sensitive, that they should raise their hand instead of trying to move or speak. If this is the case, end the procedure immediately.
  • Adjust the whitening light to the mouth and leave it on for the correct amount of time based on the treatment.
  • As the treatment nears its end, remember to set up a small tray or counter with items like a napkin, Q-tips to remove the gel, mouthwash, a small mirror, and toothpicks.

At the end of the procedure, you’ll want to take everything out of the patient’s mouth step-by-step, starting with the gel.

  • Use Q-tips to remove the gel, ensuring that you remove everything before proceeding to the next step. Remember to check between teeth as well.
  • Take off the mouth tray and give the patient plenty of napkins to wipe away saliva.#
  • Let the patient know they can spit in the stink and use mouthwash to rinse. Tell them that they can use the tools you’ve provided to also remove the gum barrier, or if they’d like you to help them remove it.

Post Whitening Care

This is an often overlooked part of the whitening process that many professional whitening offices get wrong. There are 2 main areas to look out for. 

  • The first is a substance called remineralization gel that is used to help rehydrate the teeth and is a crucial step for people with sensitivity as it can dramatically reduce the “zingers” or pain felt after whitening. This is because the mini pores in your teeth that are opened up with the peroxide gel let in hot/cold food and drinks it causes the pain. The remin gel helps to close to pores and reduce pain. This process should be done directly after the teeth whitening process and left on for 10-15 minutes. 
  • The second is the after-care kit that is important to send home with the customers which can include pain killers, vitamin e gel, take-home remin gel, and touch-up whitening pens. All of these things ensure the customer can deal with any pain that comes up after they leave the office and also help them keep their bright, white smile with lower-strength at-home whitening kits. 

Risks and Dangers of Teeth Whitening

This is something that you’ll run through with your patient before the appointment is booked. You have a responsibility to tell them that tooth sensitivity due to decay or receding gums can potentially cause issues with teeth whitening. As such, you may want to adjust to using a weaker teeth whitening gel to achieve good results without triggering their sensitive gums and teeth.

Similarly, you should tell your patient about the potential dangers of peroxide-based whitening gels. If these come in contact with gum tissue or skin, it can lead to burns and other uncomfortable sensations.

That’s all folks, hope you found this informative and have at least a baseline knowledge of how to start your own professional teeth whitening business and make money doing something you love.