Texting Etiquette 101: Messaging Patients Without Ticking Them Off

Texting is a wonderful way to communicate with patients, but despite the seemingly informal medium, it's important that you operate with some decorum.

People love texting. It's the most popular communication method in the United States. But that doesn't mean people are open to all kinds of texting.

It's a convenient way to message people, but you still need to be mindful. The goal of texting patients is to make their lives easier, not to frustrate them.

With that, here are a few ways you can message patients without ticking them off.

Get Consent

Tempting as it may be, you can't go texting patients whenever you feel like it. There are laws against this type of behavior.

No, seriously, there's a law to prevent unauthorized texting. You cannot text patients any marketing or billing messages without written consent.


Healthcare information, on the other hand, is quite okay — you do not, legally, need consent to send, say, an appointment reminder.

However, it's best to gain consent for all your messaging. Remember, the goal here is to communicate with patients in a way that won't tick them off. And, even if it's legal, some folks just don't to be texted.

Timing is Everything

Much like every other facet of life, when it comes to texting with patients, timing is everything.

Be mindful of when you send your text messages. Some patients may enjoy receiving a notification at 9 p.m., while others may wonder why on Earth their dentist, of all people, is chirping them after sundown.

A best practice for messaging patients is to keep it within working hours. You wouldn't call a person late at night, after your practice was closed, so why text them?

One area where you can waver is day-of appointment reminders. There's often little harm in setting a text reminder for 7 or 8 a.m. on the day a patient needs to come in. They'll appreciate that little reminder before setting out on the busy day ahead.


"Hi, this is Dr. Gerald Toothson's office at 34 Molar Way, where's it's always a smilin' good time! I just wanted to let you know that we have an opening, if you're interested in moving up your appointment. Text us if that works for you; if it doesn't, we just want you to know that you're a valued patient, and we can't wait to see you for your originally scheduled appointment."


What a mouthful.

When texting patients, go by the tried-and-true K.I.S.S. philosophy — Keep It Simple, Stupid. Get right to the point.

"Hi, this is Dr. Gerald Toothson's office. We have an opening at 3 p.m. today; would you like to move up your appointment? If so, please text 'YES.'"

Ahh, that's better.

Short, sweet, and to the point!

Give a CTA

CTA: Call to Action.

Don't assume patients know what you want them to do. Tell them explicitly. Move them to action.

If you have an open appointment, come up with a way for them to respond. If you have a new promo, explain how they can capitalize.

This is really a best practice for all your dental marketing. Always have some way for patients to act upon what you're telling them. Guide them to whatever result you desire.

Relinquish the Last Word

Take this as a best practice in life, as well as in messaging patients. Don't feel compelled to always have the last word.

This bad habit can be misread as one-upmanship, and can leave a sour taste in some folks' mouths.

Sometimes the conversation might end on your note; sometimes it might end with the patient. The most important thing is that you've gotten your point across, and that the patient understands.

After engaging with the patient, it's good to end your conversation with a polite thank you. If the patient responds, don't feel compelled to return serve. You've said your piece.

No Eggplants

In other words, be professional. You might be texting, but you're still representing your dental practice.

A good way to go ensure that you're being professional is to measure texts by your other methods of communications.

Have the same tone as your emails. Use the same voice as your phone calls.

You probably don't want to go shorthand ("k thx!"), and winky smilies or emojis may or may not be part of your normal mode of talking with patients.

It's okay to have some personality, just remember that there's a patient on the other end of the line. Put yourself in their shoes.

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Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients. Or check out RevenueWell Messenger, the easiest way for practices to connect with patients in real-time.