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Texting vs. Emailing Patients: A Guide for Dental Practices
Dental Marketing

Texting vs. Emailing Patients: A Guide for Dental Practices

Published on
Written by
Andrew Bernstein
Andrew Bernstein
Product Marketing Manager, Archy
Texting vs. Emailing Patients: A Guide for Dental Practices

In today's digital age, dental practices have multiple channels to communicate with patients, including text messaging and email. While both methods have their merits, understanding when to use each one is crucial for effective communication and maintaining a professional reputation. In this article, we'll dive into the best practices for texting and emailing your patients.

Respecting Patient Preferences

Always ask your patients how they prefer to be contacted and stick to those preferences. Software solutions like Archy enable you to include these questions in new patient intake and health forms, allowing you to save and manage these preferences. This ensures that each patient receives communication in their preferred format, whether it be phone calls, emails, or text messages. With that said, even with patient preferences in mind, some messages are inherently better suited for either email or text.

When to Use Text Messaging

Text messaging is a powerful tool for quick, urgent, informational, and personal 1:1 communication. Here are some scenarios where a text message is the most effective choice:

  1. Urgent Notifications: When you need to close the office unexpectedly due to illness or emergency, sending a mass text to all scheduled patients ensures prompt notification. Unlike emails, which may go unread for hours or days, text messages are usually opened and read within minutes, making them the most effective way to communicate urgent messages to patients.
  2. Appointment Reminders: Sending appointment reminders via text is an effective way to reduce no-shows. Text messages are more immediate and harder to ignore than emails, as people keep their phones close and check them frequently. This type of message is informational, not promotional, providing helpful reminders about upcoming appointments to ensure patients don't miss them.
  3. Post-Appointment Follow-Ups: Sending post-appointment follow-ups via text can improve patient experience with informational, non-promotional content. Archy can automatically send post-appointment texts with post care instructions for procedures like extractions. An automated personal text checking on a patient's well-being after a procedure improves relationships, showing you care about their recovery. For HIPAA compliance, avoid including specific details about the patient's health condition without explicit consent in post-appointment follow-ups.
  4. Text-to-Pay: Using text-to-pay solutions like those built into Archy allows you to collect unpaid bills from patients faster. Many patients will quickly pay their bills through a text message link, saving your team time on follow-ups, improving the speed of collections, and providing your patients a convenient and easy way to pay their bills.
  5. Two-Way Communication: Texting can facilitate quick back-and-forth communication for simple queries or scheduling changes. This immediacy can provide a better patient experience and streamline administrative tasks.

When Not to Use Text Messaging

While text messaging is powerful for urgent notifications, appointment reminders, and personal follow-ups, avoid using it for mass marketing campaigns.

Sending a generic promotional text about an Invisalign special to your entire patient database can come across as impersonal and intrusive. Patients may feel spammed, harming your practice's reputation and relationships. Avoid texts like, "Special offer: Get 20% off Invisalign treatment!" It's almost never appropriate to text your entire database.

Mass text messages to your entire patient database can have two major negative consequences for your practice:

  1. They can lead to your phone number being flagged as spam by carriers, hindering your ability to communicate with patients effectively, as your calls may be labeled as spam on caller ID.
  2. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) imposes strict regulations on text messaging for marketing purposes. Violating these rules can result in hefty fines and legal consequences. If a patient opts out of receiving texts due to a mass marketing message you send, you lose the ability to send them other automated texts, including appointment reminders or post-appointment follow-ups, unless they explicitly opt back in.

Effective Mass Texting Strategies

Instead of sending a mass text blast to your entire database, we recommend leveraging mass texting for more targeted and personalized messages to smaller groups of patients. For example, Archy allows you to identify patients with unscheduled treatments, such as those who came in for an Invisalign consultation but never proceeded with treatment. You can then send this smaller group of patients personalized messages about promotions or discounts related to their unscheduled treatments. For HIPAA compliance, be careful with PHI in these personalized messages unless you have the patient’s explicit consent.

For example, send a message like, "Hi [Patient Name], it's Dr. Johnson from Spring Creek Dental. As a valued patient, I'd like to offer you a special 15% discount if you come in next week. Schedule your appointment HERE." Sending this personalized text style to specific groups with unscheduled treatments can generate revenue while avoiding the negative consequences associated with mass texting your entire database. Be careful with PHI in these messages. Notice that I don’t mention specifically that the patient came in for an Invisalign consultation in this example. Including that information in the message would require explicit consent from the patient and could violate HIPAA.

When to Use Email

Emails are suitable for less urgent, more detailed, less personal, and broader communication. Here’s when you should opt for email over text:

  1. Newsletters and Updates: Regular newsletters can keep your patients informed about practice news, new treatments, new associates, and dental health tips. It’s a great way to maintain engagement without overwhelming them with frequent texts.
  2. Marketing Campaigns: Email is the preferred channel for marketing efforts to your entire patient database, including special offers and promotions. It’s less intrusive and allows for attractive visuals and detailed descriptions. Unlike text messages, sending mass emails is standard practice and less likely to be marked as spam. While emails might not be seen immediately, that’s what makes them suitable for non-urgent marketing communications that don’t require instant attention. Utilize Archy's AI powered email marketing functionality to send campaigns through email without the need for separate software.


Use text messaging for urgent, personal, and immediate communications to smaller groups, while reserving email for detailed, less urgent messages to larger groups, like your entire database. Regardless of the communication channel, always prioritize HIPAA compliance. Ensure that sensitive patient information is protected and only shared through secure, compliant channels. By respecting patient preferences, understanding each medium's strengths, and maintaining HIPAA compliance, you can provide your patients with the best experience.

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