Dental Appointment Scheduling: 4 Tips for a Fuller Calendar

Callie Norton
August 14, 2023
min read

Key Takeaways

  • Embrace Online Booking: Offer 24/7 online intelligent scheduling via Doctible's Smart Scheduler to meet patient preferences, fill the practice calendar, and increase appointment adherence.
  • Utilize Appointment Reminders: Reduce no-shows by 6-11% with Doctible's automated Patient Reminders and Voice Reminders, improving schedule efficiency and revenue.
  • Implement a Digital Waitlist: Fill in last-minute cancellations effectively with Doctible's EasyFill, a digital waitlist that alerts patients of open slots and fills up to 44% more appointments.
  • Proactive Patient Recall: Maintain a consistent schedule and patient engagement with Doctible's Patient Recall, sending personalized reminders based on treatment needs.
  • Doctible Streamlines Scheduling: Address no-shows, late cancellations, and empty slots with Doctible's comprehensive dental scheduling solutions.

No-Shows & Last-Minute Cancellations Are the #1 Reason Your Schedule Isn’t Full

With dental appointment scheduling, there’s a fine line between precision and chaos. All it takes is one no-show or last-minute cancellation to make your already busy day hectic and unpredictable.  

Not to mention, these disruptions have serious financial implications. Maintaining just one no-show per day over a year could result in a financial loss up to $70,000. That's a substantial hit to your revenue.  

Unfortunately, for many dental practices, scheduling hiccups are a regular occurrence:  

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), no-shows and late cancellations are the #1 reason dental practice schedules aren't full.  

To the point, a staggering 81% of practices in the study struggle with such scheduling issues. If you’re in this majority, you’re not alone—but you can overcome these challenges. Here, we've outlined four practical ways you can significantly reduce scheduling hiccups and keep your calendar full.    

Build a Solid Calendar with Online Scheduling  

An effective scheduling strategy is the foundation of your calendar. To make sure it's solid, you need a solution that offers both seamless appointment management and 24/7 convenience for patients. The solution that balances both: online appointment scheduling.  

Moreover, the newly dominant, next generation of patients (72%) strongly prefer scheduling appointments online or in-app. In fact, it's to the extent that they would switch providers to have it.  

As a result of aligning with digital preferences, patients are more likely to adhere to and remember their appointments. Plus, they're more engaged in their care, especially when they feel the provider values their communication choices.  

Just as importantly, online appointment booking relieves your staff of time-consuming, manual scheduling and excessive phone calls. Without playing phone tag to book appointments, your practice can minimize long waits and devote more time to patients.  

Doctible’s Smart Scheduling feature enables you to finetune your scheduling process and deliver a patient-first experience. It offers several tangible benefits:  

  • 24/7 online availability allows modern patients to book at their own convenience  
  • Seamless integration into any website (no coding necessary)  
  • A competitive edge by offering patients an intuitive, convenient scheduling tool  
  • Fewer time-consuming administrative tasks and more time with patients  
With Doctible's dental scheduling software, your practice can move strategically towards digital transformation, efficiency, and most importantly, patient satisfaction.  

Help Patients Remember Their Appointments  

Overall, the leading cause of missed appointments is simply patients’ forgetfulness. But with a proactive appointment reminder system, you can help patients remember your practice.  

In fact, automated dental appointment reminders are a remarkably effective tool for removing scheduling hiccups. Studies show that sending appointment reminder texts decreases no-shows—and even same-day cancellations—between 6% to 11%. This relatively small change in your communication strategy can make a substantial impact on your scheduling efficiency, revenue, and practice productivity.  

With Doctible’s automated Patient Reminders and Voice Reminders, you can help even your most forgetful patients remember their upcoming appointments:  

  • Send tailored SMS reminders at your chosen intervals to ensure patients see them  
  • Get more than 70% of patients to confirm appointments automatically, ensuring a fuller schedule with minimal staff involvement  
  • Receive immediate alerts when patients confirm their appointments and deliver automated messages or voicemails to patients for missed calls  
  • Customize and manage voice template "scripts" and outgoing messages from an intuitive dashboard  

Doctible’s dental appointment reminders make it easier for everyone; they help you, your patients, and—importantly—your bottom line.  

Use a Digital Waitlist to Fill Last-Minute Gaps  

Whether patients have an emergency, scheduling conflict, or traffic jam, late cancellations are challenging to fill at the last minute. Even worse, lost appointment slots mean lost productivity and financial loss for your practice.  

Along with offering Traffic Alerts to communicate practice location and traffic issues, a digital waitlist can help you manage late cancellations.    

Take, for instance, Franklin Dental, an average-sized dental practice in Wisconsin. Before, their team managed the appointment waitlist manually, jotting down names in a physical notebook. This was a time-consuming, confusing process that made it difficult to handle last-minute cancellations.  

But after they switched to Doctible’s digital waitlist, EasyFill, Franklin Dental was able to fill newly vacant slots more easily. It also saved valuable time for their team, allowing them to focus more on patient care.  

With EasyFill, you get an automated, dynamic tool for managing last-minute scheduling changes:  

  • Respond quickly to unexpected cancellations to keep schedule full  
  • Simplify communication with patients via text message notifications  
  • Tailor alert preferences and booking controls to fit your practice’s needs  
  • Fill up to 44% more appointments, protecting practice revenue  

Using smart tools like EasyFill leads to a smoother, more predictable workflow, reducing last-minute scrambles for seamless patient care.  

Recall Past Patients Proactively  

Maintaining a steady flow of repeat visits is essential for a healthy patient-practice relationship and an optimized scheduling process. However, if patients become overdue for their care, it can leave empty time slots and disrupt your appointment flow. With an automated recall system for overdue care, you can minimize the time between visits and the likelihood of appointment gaps.  

In fact, research indicates that consistent health interactions improve treatment outcomes. One study found that informed, engaged patients more likely attend regular check-ups and practice proactive health behaviors.

Doctible’s Patient Recall tool helps you engage patients proactively, ensuring their treatment adherence while keeping your schedule full:  

  • Remove the guesswork of tracking appointment history  
  • Personalize communication based on appointment type for a more engaging patient experience  
  • Set custom recall alerts and reminders based on your practice's timelines  

With Patient Recall, your practice can elevate engagement, maintaining stronger patient relationships and a more consistent schedule.  

Dental Practice Scheduling Made Easier with Doctible  

A chaotic schedule is the last thing you want when you’re trying to provide outstanding care. Effective practice management hinges on a consistent calendar, but without the right tools, that’s easier said than done.  

Doctible offers digital solutions—from online scheduling to patient recall—to ensure your practice has a smoother, more predictable schedule. With tools that address common scheduling issues, you can minimize no-shows, optimize waitlists, and promote patient engagement through proactive recall.  

If you’re ready to simplify scheduling and spend more time focusing on patient care, let Doctible transform your appointment management. With a smoother, more predictable schedule, you can focus on what matters most—providing exceptional patient care.


Coley, R. Y. (2022). Pragmatic Randomized Study of Targeted Text Message Reminders to Reduce Missed Clinic Visits. The Permanente Journal, 26(1).

Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry. (2023). American Dental Association (ADA).

Elliott, G. (2023, July 5). The Economic Impact of No-Shows on Dental Practices. Dental Economics.

Norton, C. (2023). Dentist Combats Appointment Cancellations with Doctible’s EasyFill. Doctible.

Paterick, T. E., Patel, N., Tajik, A. J., & Chandrasekaran, K. (2017). Improving Health Outcomes through Patient Education and Partnerships with Patients. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, 30(1), 112–113. National Library of Medicine.

Zielinski, K. (2022, August 17). The Changing Consumer: The Era of the Online Scheduler. Doctible.

Callie Norton
February 5, 2024

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