As teeth whitening professionals, we know that there are many things to consider when helping our clients brighten their million-dollar smile. These considerations can be classified into two primary categories: functional and esthetic. For the purposes of this article, we will discuss the functional considerations that every tooth whitening professional should consider before and during a whitening treatment. The functional considerations can be further classified into two additional sub-categories: the customer’s medical history and application considerations.

Customer Medical History
One of the first things that every teeth whitening professional should ask their clients is a list of questions regarding the client’s medical and dental health. Since we are not dentists, we must rely on our customers to provide truthful answers to these questions to ensure positive results with minimal risks. There are three very important questions that every tooth whitening professional needs to know:

  • Client’s age
  • Client’s history with tooth sensitivity and TMJ
  • Client’s pregnancy status

The client’s age is very important. Teeth whitening professionals should only provide services to people over the age of 18. This is because, until this age, a person’s teeth are still experiencing a developmental period where many changes may occur. Due to these changes, a customer’s teeth may look darker when they are young, but naturally brighten as they reach the age of 18. Furthermore, an older client – for instance, a customer in their mid-50s – may have more discoloration concerns than a younger client. This is due the dentin and enamel on our teeth beginning to wear down, and in some cases erode away, as we age. That said, an older client’s teeth may need a longer treatment plan, or multiple treatments.

In addition to the client’s age, teeth whitening professionals should also inquire about the client’s history of TMJ and tooth sensitivity. Some products we use to help our customers brighten their smile may aggravate symptoms of TMJ, and in some cases, may increase the risk of the patient experiencing tooth sensitivity. Customers who already experience tooth sensitivity may require a pre-treatment plan to be developed. These pre-treatment plans often include a two-week period of pre-brushing with a toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate, or using a tray that contains a 5-percent potassium nitrate gel for up to 30 minutes. Additionally, TMJ sufferers often find it difficult to complete an in-office or at-home whitening treatment due to the extended period of time that their mouth is held open with the tray. For TMJ sufferers, it is advised that shorter, multiple in-office visits be performed in order to help the client achieve a healthy, white smile.

Additionally, many teeth whitening professionals choose to ask their female clients about their pregnancy status. While there is no known concern regarding the dangers of performing teeth whitening treatments on a pregnant mother, nor any dangers that the treatments could have on a fetus, it is still highly recommended to inquire about the client’s pregnancy status.

Application Considerations
Once you have learned the valuable information about the client’s medical history, you can then begin to consider which application process would be most beneficial. The first thing that a whitening professional should consider is whether the client will benefit more from a single in-office whitening treatment, or need multiple visits. This can be determined based on the client’s medical history, as well as certain esthetic considerations and the client’s personal schedule. The second thing to consider is the type of tray that should be used on the client. It’s important to know that the use of tray spacers are not necessarily needed during a teeth whitening treatment.

In addition to the tray design, teeth whitening professionals may encounter clients with partial removable dentures. In this case, the professional may need to make a customizable tray impression in order to successfully whiten the client’s remaining permanent teeth. Lastly, teeth whitening professionals should consider whether the client would benefit from a combination of in-office and at-home whitening treatments. Combining both methods could help the customer reach their desired tooth color quicker, and it can also be beneficial for clients who have severely stained or discolored teeth. Additionally, combining both methods could help TMJ sufferers obtain their pearly whites with less office visits and shorter treatment plans.

Of course, throughout your professional experience as teeth whitening professionals, you will realize that there are many things to consider when helping a client achieve a beautiful white smile. This list includes only a few, yet very important, functional things to consider when discussing whitening treatment options with your clients.