There was a time when tooth whitening was all the rage. Everyone wants white bright teeth. Dental practices focused on bleaching…big companies jumped on the bandwagon and created tooth whitening products from toothpastes to white strips to tooth whitening gels. Tooth whitening systems became big business…and dentists considered it their domain.
We bought lights and made deals to buy bleach in bulk. Tooth whitening in dentistry became as common as dirt. Today we have created the ultimate dental commodity. Dental practices still charge upwards of $600 to bleach a patient’s teeth. This is in spite of the fact that in many states people can go to the local mall and get the same procedure around $99.
Cruise ships began offering whitening services as well. Through it all dental practices kept charging the higher fee as a “profit center.”
Well things are changing faster than going from A3 to A1.
In my book The Art of the Examination I wrote about the forces in dentistry that have made our services into commodities. The forces I wrote about were dental insurance and advertising. Today we have the new social e-commerce sites like Living Social and Groupon that are offering services, especially tooth whitening for as low as $79.
I wrote about this in my last couple of posts.
I always wondered where we would be if no dentists accepted dental insurance…obviously that’s a dream. So many of our colleagues have used dental insurance as a competitive advantage.
Well the same thing is happening with the Living Social and Groupon fascination. I mean really…who doesn’t want a great deal?
Dentists all over the country are jumping on the bandwagon. Patients everywhere are waking up to e-mails offering bleaching for $99 or less. I know it’s a matter of time before we see Invisalign and veneer deals.
Dentistry’s founding fathers could not have seen this Darwinian competitiveness coming. The phrase “all’s fair in love and war,” doesn’t work for industries that are held to a higher standard…industries that are public trusts.
My feeling is that creating price wars through bitter competition can help the individual practice at the expense of the collective profession.
What’s your take? The way I see it I wouldn’t be investing in a lot of bleaching supplies in the future.
I saw a young man wearing a sandwich board sign near a busy grocery store this week. What was advertised? A dentist offering “such a deal” — my goodness.
Comment by Dbush — September 13, 2011 @ 2:08 PM
A new phrase we might use is “Fear the Deal.”
Comment by Anonymous — September 13, 2011 @ 3:12 PM
With pricing wars and companies crying cheaper deals from left to right, I worry if the quality of the tooth whitening products will be compromised with each slash of the price. I wonder if these things come with a money back guarantee? Otherwise, better be wise before partaking on any deals.
Comment by cybercfousa — September 16, 2011 @ 8:15 AM
Good observation. What I really worry about is the quality of the health care provider. You touch upon the deeper issue of ethics. When health care services like tooth whitening, Lasik eye surgery or Botox injections are concerned…the products are one thing, but the business ethics of the provider should be researched. The whole idea of review sites and coupon sites brings a whole new dynamic to the consumer and the marketplace.
Comment by Anonymous — September 16, 2011 @ 9:35 PM
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Pingback by Television Mimics Life | The TAO of Dentistry — September 18, 2011 @ 6:55 PM
I hope that the dental profession doesn’t become a battle of cheap procedures.
Comment by Joeychoi1976 — September 24, 2011 @ 11:31 PM
The dental profession is already competing on price. The economy and the current trends in online and offline advertising let that horse out of the gate. Caveat emptor till the dental societies and licensing agencies start policing the profession.
Comment by Anonymous — September 25, 2011 @ 9:19 PM
That is a lifestyle whitening treatment. We say that, which is cheaper and what is the alternative for whitening teeth? I think it’s up to you to decide if you prefer to save money, or better and longer lasting. Is it popular commodity?
Comment by Dental Management — October 13, 2011 @ 9:18 PM
It certainly is a lifestyle choice. I personally am not a pusher teeth whitening. But it is the third part interference that is setting the prices for the dental industry.
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