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Using Open Dental (Blank Database)

Getting to know the ins and outs of Open Dental will take some time. Because Open Dental is flexible, you have many choices in how you use the software and which features you implement. Below are recommendations on how to begin using Open Dental when starting with a blank database (e.g. transitioning from paper charts or a new practice starting from scratch). If you have had a conversion, see Using Open Dental: Converted Database instead. 

Before entering patient data, it is important to set time aside to address HIPAA issues and set up Open Dental for your practice.


Frequently Asked Questions
Quick answers to our customers' most common questions. FAQ
Webinar: Open Dental Basics

Patient Information and Appointments
We recommend starting with patients who have an upcoming appointment.

Before the Scheduled Appointment: Create records for patients and enter as much information as you have available.

During the appointment

  • Update existing treatment and patient information. Enter Treatment, Medical Information
  • Set the appointment complete.  Attach any added procedures.
  • If treatment is needed, chart it (add procedures with a TP status).  
  • If treatment is needed, enter a Planned Appointment for the next appointment (treatment that is priority #1). This information will by used by the front desk to schedule the next appointment.
  • In the Treatment Plan module, prioritize treatment, then save and print the treatment plan.

Front Desk

Daily Tasks

End of Day Reports: Most offices run the reports below at the end of the day. These reports can be run by provider, by clinic, and other optional criteria.

Other Useful Features

  • Procedures Report: A report of all procedures done for a date range.
  • Routing Slips: Print all at once or one at a time.
  • Billing: Run daily, monthly, or per your practice preference.
  • Birthdays: Generate birthday postcards (usually monthly).

Managing Appointments
Open Dental has several tools you can use to manage appointments and keep your schedule full, thus keeping your production high.

Close Out Day/Month/Year
There are no close out processes needed in Open Dental. However, there are some security features to prevent changing data after a certain date. See Closing Out a Month, Start of Year Tasks.


Open Dental Software 1-503-363-5432