As seen in Woman in Business.

When Charmaine McFarlane returned to Christchurch from the Gold Coast, she knew what she didn’t want to do.

“I didn’t want to work 14 hours a day running a day spa as we had been doing in Australia,” she says.

Instead, she chose a job that put a smile on people’s faces – quite literally.

A teeth-whitening process was one of the services offered by the day spa business she owned in Australia and she was surprised to discover there were no independent teethwhitening professionals in Christchurch.

That observation led to the launching of a mobile teeth-whitening business in July, 2009. Sparklewhite Teeth was so successful that, within six months, McFarlane and her husband, Matt, were contemplating expanding the venture throughout New Zealand.

“Within six months, we had a dozen licensed branches and, after a year, about 25 branches had been established, most of them run by people with dental backgrounds,” she says.

Eager to separate themselves from inexperienced “cowboy” operators, they worked with the Ministry of Health to establish a safe practice code for the teeth-whitening profession. Matt McFarlane is now vice
president of the New Zealand Cosmetic Teeth Whitening Association.

The February 2011 earthquake crippled Sparklewhite Teeth’s basement salon in the CBD and inflicted spinal fractures on McFarlane when she was thrown across the floor.

She now operates the business from her Hoon Hay home where the one-hour treatment is performed in a specially fitted clinic.

The process involves a whitening gel being painted on the teeth. Exposure to LED light starts an oxidisation action in which stain is extracted from the teeth. Gums are protected by gum wax during this process.

The initial treatment costs $299. If a subsequent top-up treatment is required, the client pays only an additional $150.

“There are so many reasons why people have their teeth whitened. They might be celebrating a 40th, 50th or 60th birthday, preparing for an important job interview or wanting to look their best when getting married,” McFarlane says. “I whitened the teeth recently of a woman in her 70s who was going to a 50-year reunion for dental nurses. The oldest person I’ve treated was a 92-year-old who was a dental nurse during World War II.

“Having your teeth whitened is such a confidence booster – and it makes me feel happy, too, to help them feel good about themselves.”