Before you head out to scout for new patients, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the goldmine of existing patients that you are sitting on. An effective dental recall system can come in handy by filling up your calendar and sending out automated reminders to your patients that nudge them to come back for a check-up.

To make sure you know how to keep patients satisfied (and simply keep patients!), here’s what we will be discussing in this article:

Let’s get to it; full steam ahead to learning everything there is to dental marketing solutions and how they can transform your dental practice.

What is a dental recall solution + what do they do?

Dental recall solutions ensure continued oral care for your patients while keeping your schedules full. Recall systems in dental offices allow your staff to book the next appointment even before your patient walks out of the office. If that fails, they use email, text, or phone calls to convince them to return to your practice the next time they need care.

The best dental recall systems can automate patient reminders, customize the frequency of communication that you want to be sent out, and sync with your EHR software once the confirmation comes in. With the recall system staying on top of all the reminders, follow-ups, and correspondence, it gives your staff time to focus on delivering a great experience when your patients come in.

5 main benefits of a dental recall solution

Dental recall solutions have a number of added benefits, saving your team effort and freeing up time for other tasks. Reminding patients of appointments and engaging in recall marketing will help you improve the overall efficiency of your practice. Below, we cover the five main benefits of using a dental recall solution:

  • Automated patient appointment reminders: Your patients get multiple reminders sent via their preferred mode of communication (email or text) so that you can ensure that they keep their appointment.
  • Leverage the existing pool of patients: Bringing in new patients is more difficult, time-consuming, and expensive than keeping a current patient. Convincing your current patients to book follow-up checkups is the most effective way to fill your schedule and maintain revenue.
  • Reduce no-shows: When a recall system is in place, your patients are less likely to forget about their upcoming appointments. Ensuring these patients keep their appointment can save your practice lost revenue due to no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
  • Efficient operations: Instead of spending hours on the phone trying to call your patients individually to remind them about their appointment, your staff can focus on growth strategies that can help you bring in new patients.
  • Opportunities to get referrals: When you send out reminders, you can incentivize your patients with discounts and freebies if they refer their friends and family, bringing in new patients for your practice.

Learn how NexHealth’s patient recall solution can get patients back to your practices for future appointments.

6 dental recall methods: how to communicate with patients

Ultimately, you should communicate with your patients using whichever means is most effective and which they respond to the most. We suggest trying a few different methods and testing their performance to help you improve your process. In today’s climate, there are essentially six main methods – or modes of communication – when it comes to dental recall.

1. Email

Opting for an email marketing strategy to bring back patients is the most commonly used method that is cost-effective and non-invasive. Depending on your patient’s fluency with emails, you can expect quick and immediate responses that help you close the communication loop faster than other traditional forms of marketing.

Strategy: Short term
Content types:

  • Reminders 
  • Appointment confirmations and cancellations
  • Medication and treatment follow-up check
  • Send appointment booking links to bring back patients
  • New offerings
  • Webinars or event invitations
  • Feedback and review links
  • Promotional discounts and packages
  • Invoices and receipts
  • Special occasion greetings and milestone reminders

2. SMS and text messaging

Person receiving dental recall messages over sms or text

Text messages have a higher open rate than emails, placing it right up there with email marketing when you are building your communication strategy for your practice. Leaving your patients with a CTA like ‘Reply with a Y or N’ prompts them to quickly respond to your text message and saves them the hassle of calling your office or writing an email to make changes to their upcoming appointment.

While you can’t be as creative with these messages, most people carry their phone and pay attention to incoming messages, and will see this before other methods of digital communication.

Strategy: Short term
Content types:

  • Reminders
  • Appointment confirmations and cancellations
  • ​​New offerings
  • Promotional discounts and packages
  • Feedback and review links
  • Webinars and event invitations
  • Send appointment booking links to bring back patients
  • Special occasion greetings and milestone reminders

3. Social media

Using social media is an effective technique for fostering engagement with your patients outside the office, as well as a way to build and curate your professional persona. Not only are you reminding them of your exemplary services and reassuring them of their decision to stay under your care, but you can create a deeper connection and develop loyalty to your practice.

You can even use social media platforms to convert patients directly; see how Grand Street Dental was able to convert patients directly from their Instagram!

Strategy: Long term
Content types:

  • Patient testimonials (photos or videos)
  • Video tour of the office
  • Introducing your care team
  • Before/after photos
  • DIY tips and learning content
  • Product recommendations
  • Event registration and appointment booking reminders with a link
  • Celebrating milestones with the team
  • Special occasion greetings
  • Conference and community outreach program participation

4. In-person

In-person dental recall

As soon as your patient leaves your office without scheduling a follow-up, you put your practice at risk of losing a patient. Reminding your patients of the benefits of timely check-ups, upcoming treatment, and the progress they’re making under your care will allow your practice to stay organized and on top of their healthcare.

Set up an exit process that allows you to schedule them for their next appointment. Do your best to get them to book again, without being too pushy or obnoxious, as being too aggressive can work against you.

Strategy: Short term
Content types:

  • Appointment confirmations and cancellations
  • Event registration
  • Suggestions and feedback

5. Phone Call

Appointment reminder phone calls are very effective if you make them personal and include useful tips that will help your patients prepare for their upcoming visit. It is important to get the timing right so that they aren’t intrusive and help reduce no-shows and cancellations.

Despite how many methods of communication you offer, some patients will still prefer doing all communication over the phone. There will also be cases where a good-old-fashioned phone call is needed. Make sure to use phone calls for patient recall when you haven’t had traction using other, less time-consuming methods or when you know that’s a patient’s preferred method of communication.

Strategy: Short term
Content types:

  • Appointment confirmations and cancellations
  • Appointment reminders
  • Medication and treatment follow-up check 
  • Event participation reminders

6. Standard mail

Standard mail, while slower than other electronic communication methods, adds a personal touch that your patients may appreciate. If you have some additional funds in your marketing budget, you can surprise your patients by sending out mail on special occasions.

That being said, it’s extremely time-consuming, expensive, and can be subject to delays and errors, which could mean that it doesn’t arrive on time (or even worse, doesn’t arrive at all!). If patients are open to it, digital recall methods are much more efficient, and can be automated to save your team time and effort.

Strategy: Long term
Content types:

  • Birthday or season greeting cards
  • Discount and promotional offers
  • Invoices
  • Brand awareness

11 top dental patient recall strategies

So, what do you need to do to keep patients coming back? Modern practices need to offer more than good service to keep patients happy, they also need to offer a top-notch patient experience that makes their interaction with your practice as convenient as it can be.

Beyond that, you need to keep your practice on top of mind (and in their schedule!). Below, we cover the top strategies for recalling patients for follow-ups and future care.

1. Confirm their next visit before they leave

When your patient comes right out of their treatment, you still have their attention to schedule their next appointment before they walk out of your office. Since they are right in front of you, they have access to their calendar giving you the opportunity to check with them, make additional notes, and prepare them for their next appointment.

2. Identify and develop a complete dental recall strategy

To maximize your efforts, you’ll need to make sure that you develop a complete dental recall strategy, including appointment reminders, follow-up messages, and more. Identify which methods work best for your practice, and integrate them into your overall strategy, and optimize their efficiency over time. Use analytics to determine which methods are most successful, doubling down where you see successes and making changes where you aren’t gaining traction.

3. Study your customer pipeline and streamline your funnel

Marketing funnel for dental recall

As your marketing efforts to bring in new patients may always be underway, analyzing them from time to time is a good practice. This will give you the insight to see if you need to tweak your patient funnel or follow-up through additional efforts to keep your pipeline moving smoothly. Identify weaknesses in your recall funnel, and make improvements to get more patients back to your office.

4. Send targeted and tailored messages

Once you analyze your data, put your patients under different buckets based on their treatment type, frequency of visit, or their age group to create email or text marketing campaigns. Sending specifically targeted communication will result in more engagement and confirmed appointments. Using marketing tools like NexHealth, you can customize the email or text message to your patients to include their name, type of care, and more; these personalized messages have significantly higher open rates and are likely to get your patient to return.

5. Time your messages for the greatest impact

Whether you send out reminder messages or annual check-up messages, the timing is very critical. It is acceptable to send out reminders two weeks, two days, and two hours in advance to ensure that you’ve done your part in helping them keep their appointments. To ensure patients open these messages and add their appointments to their calendar, you’ll want to time these messages carefully. Typically, people read emails first thing in the morning, at lunch, or immediately after work, so sending reminders between 7 and 9 AM, 11 and 1 PM, and 4 – 6 PM are often ideal times. 

6. Offer treatment packages that ensure regular attendance

While good quality care is extremely important to your patients, it’s no secret that dental treatments can be expensive. Offering patients discounts and and savings on treatment plans that ensure confirmed appointments for a foreseeable future will keep your calendars full. Even better, patients that were considering changing practices will return for another visit, or solidify you as their go-to practice.

7. Incentivise your patients to come in for every visit

You can come up with creative giveaways that don’t outweigh the cost of your patient’s treatment. A giveaway doesn’t always have to be a monetary reward or a discount on your service, but it could also be access to additional learning resources or exclusive dental camps that your patients will find value in participating. Ultimately, any value-added over your competitors can motivate patients to choose you as their sole practitioner.

8. Subtly remind your patients how continuous care ensures great dental health

As a dental practitioner, you have to keep reminding your patients about the progress that they are making in their treatment from when they started. This continuous reminder reinforces their faith in your care that helps them stay loyal to your practice. Social media is a great medium to use for this, as you can share hygiene and care tips to your patients, reinforcing how important cleanings and oral care is.

9. Make appointment booking easy

Scheduling as part of dental recall

One of the best ways to keep patients returning is to make it easy for them to book future appointments. This saves them time, reduces friction, and makes the experience easy and efficient. Offer patients the convenience of booking online so that they can book whenever and however is most convenient for them. Online scheduling also means that your practice can schedule appointments 24/7, whether your office is open or not. Simplify the process even further by offering patients 1-Click Booking, so they can schedule appointments faster than ever!

10. Make them want to come back with a warm reception at the office

While visiting a dentist is not a pleasant experience as a whole, your front office staff can make your patients feel welcome and comfortable so that they sit on the dentist’s chair with a calm mind. You could play some calming music while they wait for their appointment or strike up a conversation about a common interest without being too intrusive. For some of your less chatty patients, have magazines, books, and maybe even a TV to keep them entertained and ensure their wait goes by quickly.

11. Use an automated dental recall solution

Having a dental recall solution for your practice enables you to send out automatic reminders to your patients before their appointments. Once your patient confirms their appointment it syncs up with your EHR system so that you have full control over your calendar. This allows you to automate most – if not all – of your patient recall efforts, reaping the benefits with little of the hassle.

What’s better than using a patient recall solution that manages and optimizes these things for you so that you can streamline patient activity management? To help you choose the best solution, we compare the top ten patient recall systems below.

10 best patient recall solutions to get patients back into your office

While you can manually run your recall initiatives, this will be extremely time-consuming and tedious. Instead, it’s best to automate much of your dental recall efforts with a patient management solution. Below, we cover the best dental recall systems:

1. NexHealth

Highlight: Offer an efficient, modernized patient experience

NexHealth offers a comprehensive strategy for patient recall, including automated reminders for appointments, customizable reminder sequences, confirmation updates that automatically populate in your integrated EHR system, and more. This lets you focus on managing your practice and giving patients the best care, while NexHealth worries about filling your schedule and getting patients to return.

Book a demo today to see what NexHealth can do for you!

2. Doctible

Doctible home screen

Image Credit: Doctible

Highlight: Virtual waiting room feature

Doctible is a HIPAA-compliant patient communication platform that helps your practice retain your existing patients. Along with automating your reminder and repetitive treatment or operatory messages, Doctible is designed to keep your schedule full to help you achieve your business goals.

3. DoctorConnect

DoctorConnect home page

Image Credit: DoctorConnect
Highlight: Paperless patient intake and forms

DoctorConnect is a patient engagement solution that is designed to help you deliver patient satisfaction and lower your no-show rates. Using their rule-based recall messaging feature you can customize the frequency of messages and the patients you want to target for maximum success. 

4. Legwork

Legwork dashboard

Image Credit: Legwork

Highlight: Google Search advertising support

Legwork is an all-in-one marketing growth platform that assists you in delivering a great experience across the entire patient lifecycle. Helping you create an interactive website that is visually appealing and highlights solutions to the problems that your patients are looking for, Legwork makes the appointment booking process convenient that contributes to higher retention numbers. 

5. Lighthouse 360

Lighthouse 360 dashboard

Image Credit: Lighthouse360

Highlight: Convenient front desk task list for staff

Lighthouse simplifies and automates tedious day-to-day tasks allowing you to focus on caring for your patients. With their reactivation outreach feature, dormant patients are sent friendly, customized recall emails automatically to bring them back to your practice.

6. iDentalSoft

iDentalSoft dashboard

Image Credit: iDentalSoft

Highlight: Cloud management support

With identalsoft you can run a 100% paperless practice that uses cloud-based software eliminating the need for expensive servers. Identalsoft can be used for intra-office and patient communication through any platform or device and also offers WhatsApp integration.

7. OperaDDS

OperaDDS mobile signingImage Credit: OperaDDS

Highlight: Designed by dentists for best results

OperaDDS is designed to streamline your day-to-day tasks and have everything in one place that can be accessed from anywhere and any device. Through OperaDDS patient reminders, if your patients aren’t able to make it to their appointments, you can suggest an alternate time to reschedule immediately.

8. Luma Health

LumaHealth mobile recall

Image Credit: Luma Health

Highlight: Maximize patient engagement

Modernize how patients access and interact with your practice to achieve great results. This recall system is centered on patient communication, ensuring that patients can also contact you seamlessly and conveniently, thus giving them an incredible patient experience.

9. marketing360

marketing360 dental recall

Image Credit: marketing360

Highlight: Modern websites designed for the dental industry

Marketing360 is a dental platform that not only equips you with the right tools to automate and manage marketing functions for your practice but also allows you to manage your online reputation and your patients to schedule their appointments. With marketing360 you can also get a dedicated support team that includes a designer, ad specialist, video professional, content, and social media marketer who will do it all for you.

10. adit

Adit dental recall dashboard

Image Credit: adit

Highlight: Complete practice management solution

Adit is an all-in-one software designed specifically for dental practices to simplify their operations and streamline their communication. Equipped with powerful tools that empower your patients with scheduling their appointment, filling forms, messaging, and paying online, practices can also view their analytics and manage their reputation online.

Recall existing patients with NexHealth

To manage your patients’ treatment and care most effectively, you’ll want to rely on a high-quality patient experience platform. With NexHealth, you gain a powerful dental recall solution that will automate reminders, follow-up messages, and more to make sure patients return to visit your practice when they need dental care.


Learn how you can keep existing patients and maximize your revenue with a free demo of NexHealth today!

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