Choose Database

In the Main Menu, click File, Choose Database.

Alternatively, this window may display when launching Open Dental. This window always displays the first time when launching Open Dental after install.

These settings allow the workstation to locate and connect to the MySQL database.

Note: Open Dental Cloud users cannot change their database or view MySQL User information. All settings in this window will be read only.

Connection Settings

MariaDB SkySQL PEM path: If connecting to a third-party hosted cloud server, enter the file path for the security certificate. The certificate must be accessible from all workstations.

To save the information, for the next time Open Dental starts up, right-click the Open Dental icon and Run as Administrator, then enter the Choose Database settings.

Connect to Middle Tier

See Middle Tier.

Instead of connecting directly to the database, practices have the option to connect to a Middle Tier which handles all of the database interactions. The advantages include better security and speed for multiple offices. Using the middle tier makes it impossible for the user to connect directly to the database. The user never has access to the MySQL username and password used to access the database. It also prevents injection attacks when writing queries.

Advanced Settings

Advanced: Use connection string: Allows customizing the MySQL connection parameters (advanced users only). See also Oracle.
Example: Server=servername;Port=portnumber;Database=name_of_database;User=username;Password=password;sslca="c:\location\of\sslca.pem"

Dynamic Mode: Automatically downgrades or upgrades to server version.: Use when users need to connect to a database from a different version of Open Dental without updating or downgrading the local client.

When running Open Dental in Dynamic Mode, Open Dental must be run as an administrator. Dynamic Mode cannot be run on the update server.

When checked, if the selected server and database are running a Version different than the currently installed version on the workstation, Open Dental automatically creates a temporary install of the server's version of the Open Dental client into a dynamic folder (typically C:\Program Files (x86)\Open Dental\DynamicMode) and launch the program from there.

Note: Dynamic Mode can be useful in a variety of situations. Including:
  • Multiple locations: Practices with multiple locations can remote into each other without having to make sure every site is on the same exact version.
  • CEMT: Typically, offices using CEMT must have all databases on the same version of Open Dental. With Dynamic Mode this is no longer the case.
  • Verifying backups: Users can launch a backup of Open Dental on a workstation using Dynamic Mode to verify a backup without it needing to process a database update.
  • Testing: If a new or beta version of Open Dental for testing purposes has been installed, use Dynamic Mode to connect to the production database on the same workstation without needing to update the whole office.

For Advanced Users

The settings on this window are stored in the FreeDentalConfig.xml file in the installation directory. This data is not stored in the database because a database connection has not yet been established.

Multiple Databases: Most users have only one database. However, in Open Dental practices have the option of running many databases on the same computer. For example, Backups could be made of of a database within its original folder. To access a historical snapshot of the data, simply select a database backup to open. Users can also switch between the regular database and a backup that on home computer for read-only purposes. If a user runs a dental billing company, each doctor client can retain a separate database (each office must also have a separate Open Dental license).

To switch between databases, use the Database dropdown. This is only available when the Choose Database window appears upon startup.


Problem: Connection to the MySQL server has been lost.

Solution: This message pops up when the workstation cannot connect to the MySQL server. Open Dental attempts to reconnect until connection is successful or the user aborts (Exit Program).

Problem: Error regarding too many connections.

Solution: In the my.ini file on the server, change the max_connections to 3,000.

  • For users on MariaDB 10.5, see MariaDB Too Many Connections.
  • For users on MySQL 5.5, this uses RAM on the server computer as connections are made.
  • For users on MySQL 5.6, it immediately reserves RAM on the server computer.