Tips & Tricks

Power Up Your Appointment Module

Updated 6/2/2023

The Appointment Module is an integral part of Open Dental. When you arrive at the office in the morning it’s one of the first things you look at to get an idea of what your day will be like, and it’s used throughout your day to manage patient flow and scheduling. This post will cover the essential setup that will make the Appointment Module the powerhouse you need it to be.

Providers and Schedules

Note: There are many things in the Appointment Module that are affected by the provider’s schedule, because of this it is crucial that you set it up, and set it up correctly.

  • Production Goals: When calculating production goals, Open Dental takes the hourly goal and multiplies it by the number of scheduled hours for that provider. To set this up, go to Lists >  Providers, and double-click on the provider you wish to set a goal for. At the bottom of the edit provider window, you will see Hourly Production Goal, enter the hourly goal amount here.

TECH TIP: When setting up the provider schedule, make sure you include a lunch break. If the provider doesn’t have a lunch break in their schedule but is taking one, their Daily Production Goal will not be accurate.

  • Make Recall and Appointment Search: The Make Recall button is used to schedule the patient’s next Recall appointment and the Search button is used to find openings in the schedule. These buttons make scheduling recalls and finding available openings quick and easy.

Search results show openings for scheduled providers in the selected appointment view. Depending on how the behavior is set, the search will either look at ProviderTime which compares the needed provider time (indicated in the time pattern of the appointment) with available provider time (indicated by the time bar at the left of the appointment schedule), then return the first available time slots for each of the next 10 available days, or ProviderTimeOperatory which uses the same search criteria as ProviderTime, but only returns time slots when the provider is available and the provider’s operatory (or operatories) is available, for each of the next 10 available days. You can set the search behavior by going to Setup > Preferences.

  • Provider Scheduling NoteAdd a provider-specific scheduling note that will appear when clicking on the header of their operatory. This is useful as a reminder if providers only work certain days of the week. To set this up, go to Lists > Providers and enter a scheduling note.

This is how it appears when clicking the operatory:

Did you know?

When setting up a provider’s schedule you can copy and paste the schedule for a single provider. When pasting schedules days marked as holidays are automatically skipped so you won’t need to go into each one individually after initial setup.

Blockouts and Blockout Types

  • Block scheduling: For offices that want to use block scheduling, you can create a blockout type for certain procedures. Go to Setup > Definitions > Blockout Types to create these. Block scheduling allows you to reserve time on the schedule for certain procedures (preventative, restorative, etc.) You can easily search by these blockout types by using the Advanced button in the Appointment Module.
  • Block scheduling: Want to prevent appointments from being scheduled at a certain time? Use Block Scheduling! This feature prevents appointments from being scheduled over certain blockouts. To set up blockouts, go to Setup > Definitions > Blockout Types. Select the blockout and check the ‘Block appointments scheduling’ box.
  • Disable Cut/Copy/PasteThis box prevents a blockout from being cut-copied-pasted. This is useful when you use blockouts for non-recurring items, like meetings.


  • Provider and Hygienist: You can assign a provider and/or a hygienist to an operatory. Keep in mind that the schedule overrides these settings.
  • Is Hygiene: Checking this box for an operatory automatically sets an appointment as hygiene.
  • Update Prov on Future Appts: This tool changes the provider and hygienist on all future appointments. This is useful is you have just had your final conversion or if you are updating the provider or hygienist assigned to the operatory (if a provider has left, for example).


  • Procedure Abbreviations: Adding an abbreviation to a procedure is important. If you are set up to see procedures in the appointment bubble and a procedure doesn’t have an abbreviation it will not display. Add abbreviations in Lists > Procedure Codes and double-click a procedure to customize.
  • Notes and Times for Specific Provider: This can be used to override procedure time patterns to allow for more time if needed by certain providers. It also allows provider-specific notes for treatment planned or completed procedures. (See screenshot below)
  • Is Hygiene Procedure: If the procedure is always done by the hygienist and they should be getting credit for it, mark it as ‘Is Hygiene Procedure’. When the box is checked, the procedure will be automatically assigned to the hygiene provider when scheduling an appointment with two providers. Some common procedures you would do this for are Xrays, sealants, and take-home products.


Font Size: Make the font size on appointments larger or smaller by going to Setup > Preferences > Appointment font size.

Calendar: Quickly navigate to another date by clicking the current month at the top of the calendar and typing the date you’d like to navigate to.

When it comes to keeping your office running smoothly and efficiently, knowledge is power. If you need help powering up your Appointment Module, please contact us.

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