Hiring and Retention

A Newbie’s Guide to Open Dental

Open Dental Newbie's Guide

New to Open Dental? There’s a lot to learn, but not to worry! We’re here to help. In this post, we’re going to give you a rundown on a few of the basics and provide some resources where you can get more information, should you need it.


First, let’s get to know the layout of Open Dental.

Open Dental

On the left side, you have the Module icons. We’ll go over these in more depth in a bit, but for now just know that you’ll use these the navigate to different areas of the software, like the Appointments, Account, etc.

At the very top is the Title Bar. In the Title Bar, you can easily see which patient you have selected, regardless of the Module you have open. When you switch Modules, the patient will not change and you can always reference the Title Bar to see whose record you currently have open.

Below the Title Bar is the Main Menu. The Main Menu is where you access many of the settings and tools in Open Dental. It is always visible. The Main Menu also has the Log Off option and is where users can get to Reports and Help options. If your practice has Clinics, this is also where you can switch between Clinics.

Next up is the Main Toolbar. The Main Toolbar is the same regardless of the Module. From here, you can click Select Patient (or Ctrl+P) to search for and open patient records (and create new ones), create Commlogs (logs for any communication regarding a patient) and Emails, view and generate patient Forms, and more.

And last, but certainly not least, is the Module Toolbar. This toolbar will vary depending on the Module you have open. Each toolbar has options specific to that module – no two are the same.


As we mentioned earlier, the Modules are on the left side of Open Dental and they’re how you’ll navigate through the program. There are seven Modules in Open Dental. Click the graphic and read below to learn more about each one.

Open Dental

Learning Resources

There are multiple learning resources available for new users.

The Manual

Now that you understand navigation in the software, you can get a better understanding of the Open Dental Manual. The manual is available online and is kept up-to-date with each version release.

Use the Version dropdown to select the manual that matches your Open Dental version. By default, the latest stable version is selected when the manual is opened.

Open Dental Manual

The table of contents is organized by where a window is located in Open Dental.

Alternatively, users on Support can click the question mark icon in each window to open the corresponding manual page.

Open Dental help

Webinars and Tutorials

Pre-recorded webinars and tutorials help users learn Open Dental at their own pace.

Visit our Youtube Channel for over 200 videos covering a variety of topics. Check out Playlists to see videos on a related topic. We also have two playlists grouped by job responsibility:
Lessons for Front Desk or Reception
Lessons for Office Manager or Billing Specialist


Open Dental might have the kindest and most supportive community around. Join our Facebook User Group or Forum to connect with other Open Dental users. Get advice about how to best use Open Dental features, practice workflow, how other practices are using third-party programs, and more.


For a fee, Open Dental offers online and on-site options. See our Training Page for details.


Support is more than just problem-solving errors or issues. Reach out when you want to know more about a feature, need help setting something up, when it’s time to update, or for anything else Open Dental related.

For simple questions, try online chat for immediate assistance. If you need us to remote connect with you, please call.

You can call us anytime during Office Hours for support. You will first reach an operator who will route your call. If the issue is urgent, they will get you right over to the next available technician for assistance. For non-urgent issues, they will place you in a callback queue for a call the same day.
Each support call is limited to 2 questions/problems, but you can call as many times in a day as you need!

Email us anytime at service@opendental.com. Our Email Team is made up of seasoned technicians who monitor incoming emails from start to finish.

Once you get past navigating Open Dental, the rest becomes a breeze. We offer many resources so you will become an Open Dental Expert in no time!

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