Attention is a curency – at least it is online. Our attention is worth something, and it can cost quite a bit (Google will charge companies $32 per click for terms like auto insurance).
As a dentist, you have your patient’s attention.
Of course you can call (if its about their health). Of course you can email them (if it’s about your office hours or a change in location). But, avoid emailing your patients about the variability of lateral incisors, fluoride, or other ADA hot-topics because your patients are not that interested.
My guess is that patients don’t ask themselves what a pulpotomy is – they may ask you before the procedure is performed on their children, but they will not ponder the nature of the procedure before they go to sleep at night. So, if you choose to market your practice by talking to your customers about their teeth, you’ll run out of interesting topics quickly. Once your mailings become predictable (boring), your materials will be seen as a nuisance and you’ll lose your clients’ attention (be humdrum long enough and you’ll lose your permission too).
An email inbox is valuable real estate – it’s a direct link between your customers and you, and it should be treated with respect. If you’re going to email your customers (maybe you have a blog), answer questions that nag us all or better yet, don’t write about teeth at all. Instead, review restaurants, movies, and local events. People care about where they live and you can be a valuable link between them and the happenings at the local high school or other mom-and-pop shops in your community.