How Does Whitening Fit into the Dental Hygiene Appointment?
While clinicians are focused on oral health, patients are often more concerned about achieving an esthetic smile.
As one of Colgate’s experts in dental hygiene and oral health, I know first hand that you likely are both passionate about oral health and short on time. If I asked what services you provide in your dental hygiene appointment, I am sure you would give me a long inventory. So why would I suggest adding one more item to your list? The reason is that patients are highly focused on esthetics. Yes, they may have horrible oral malodor, rampant decay, and puffy, bleeding gingiva, but they will assert without hesitation: “My biggest oral health concern is whiter teeth!”
The hygiene appointment is the perfect time to tap into your patient’s internal motivation for whiter teeth to also encourage better oral health. When patients say they want whiter teeth and you see they need restorative and periodontal care, you can smile and say, “We can work on that with a treatment plan just for you, which, of course, will include whitening.”
The first step is to support patients in improving their gingival health. Whitening will be much more comfortable and their teeth will appear whiter if the gingiva is pink and firm. An at-home oral care routine with thorough twice-a-day brushing and rinsing with an antigingivitis toothpaste and mouthwash in addition to interdental cleaning is vital to improving gingival health. Second, if applicable, advise patients they need restorative care. The third step is tooth whitening. After laying it out like this, it’s possible that your patient may just say, “Yes, let’s do it!”
Advances in Whitening
The science of teeth whitening has greatly advanced, making it incredibly easy for patients to whiten quickly and comfortably. The Colgate® Professional Optic White® In-Office Teeth Whitening Kit offers high efficacy without messy oozing gels or trays that pinch, and is designed for no tooth sensitivity (Figure 1). An alcohol-based peroxide serum is precisely painted on the facial aspects of the enamel (Figure 2) and the kit includes a comfortable tray worn for just 10 minutes.
The precise paint-on hydrogen peroxide serum lets the patient place the whitening serum on the facial aspect of the enamel, limiting exposure to dentin and gingiva, which can cause sensitivity. Ask patients to use the serum before bedtime, after they have brushed their teeth. They simply apply the serum on lightly dried maxillary and mandibular anterior teeth, insert the LED violet spectrum light tray, and wear it for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, they remove the LED tray and go to bed. They will remove any remaining serum by brushing the next morning. In 10 days, they will see whiter teeth.
You could make an appointment for patients to return in 5 to 10 days to check their whitening progress. At the same time, you can assess their home care and facilitate the completion of any needed restorative care. Of course, advise patients that this is part of their whitening program.
If patients need whiter teeth right away, you can schedule an appointment for the Colgate® Professional Optic White® In-Office Teeth Whitening Kit, which completes the whitening process in one appointment. The professional in-office kit precision paint-on serum contains a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide serum and a comfortable violet spectrum tray. It whitens teeth by five to seven shades in 1 hour without a gingival barrier—very easy for you and very comfortable for your patient.
When patients get what they want—whiter teeth—and you provide the necessary dental care, healthier mouths are the result. It all starts with the dental hygiene appointment.
Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. August 2022; 20(8)26.