Open Dental

Your checklist for finishing up 2020 and getting a great start on 2021

It has been quite a year, and as it draws to a close and we look forward to new beginnings in 2021, there are a few items you’ll want to take a look at in Open Dental to finish up the year, and get 2021 started on a high note. If your practice is dealing with new EPCS or PDMP mandates, see our post: E-Prescribing and PDMP in Open Dental.

Here is your checklist:

Run Reports

Reports can be run anytime for any time period. Typical year-end reports include:

Create Pay Periods

If you run out of pay periods, employees will still be able to clock in, but the information will not display until the relevant pay period is created.

Some helpful resources:
Time Cards webinar
Open Dental User Manual Time Card Setup Manual Page

To add pay periods, go to Setup> Manage> Time Cards, then select to Add One or Generate Many pay periods.

Update/Edit Schedules

It’s important that schedules are set up at least 6 months out (12-18 months is best) for recall scheduling. Web Sched, etc.

Go to Setup> Schedules to update schedules and copy them forward.

Some helpful resources:
Operatory and Schedule Setup webinar
Open Dental User Manual Schedule Setup manual page

Update/Cut-Copy-Paste Blockouts

Similar to copying schedules forward, you may want to copy blockouts forward as well.

Go to Setup> Definitions> Blockout Types to set up, edit, and reorder blockout types.

Right-click on the schedule and use the Blockout cut-copy-paste function to copy, and again to paste or repeat forward (by days or weeks) the Blockouts you have copied. It’s a good idea to create a “template week” then copy/repeat that forward a certain number of weeks. If Replace Existing is checked, it will overwrite any Blockouts you already have on the schedule.

Open Dental User Manual See more on our Blockouts manual page

Reset/Renew Insurance Benefits

Great news – this is done automatically in Open Dental!

Benefit Years must be set up correctly. In the Family Module, double-click to open the insurance plan, then double-click into the Benefit Information window to make sure the Benefit Year is set up correctly. (If you’re looking by plan, go to Lists> Insurance Plans, then open the plan, and double-click into the Benefit Information.)

Open Dental defaults to Calendar for the Benefit Year (January – December)


If an Insurance plan runs on a Service Year (starts in a month other than January), the Benefit Year must be set up correctly.
Uncheck “Calendar” and enter the start month, September in this example.

If your patient has insurance benefits that roll-over into the next year:
Let’s say the patient has $400 of benefits remaining, and the plan allows that to be rolled over into the next plan year.
You can use the Adjustments to Benefits feature in Open Dental to enter the roll-over amount.

  1. In the Family Module, double-click to open the patient’s insurance.
  2. In the upper right next to Adjustments to Insurance Benefits, click Add.
  3. To enter a benefit amount to roll-over into the next year, enter the amount as a negative number. This will tell the system to add this amount to the patient’s available benefits.

Using the Move Subscribers Tool when Plans Change Carriers

The Move Subscribers tool moves subscribers of one insurance plan to another insurance plan. It is useful at the beginning of a benefit year when plans may change carriers.

A few things to note:

  • The user must have the Insurance Plan Change Subscriber security permission to run this tool.
  • Moving subscribers is irreversible. Make a full backup before running this tool.
  • This tool may take several minutes to run. Consider running it after business hours or when network usage is typically low.
  • Insurance estimates for treatment planned procedures will be recalculated based on the new plan.

Step 1: A subscriber has notified you that their plan has a new carrier. You need to:

  • DROP their old plan.
    ** NOTE: Do not change the carrier in the existing plan, as this will affect historical information. **
  • Add the New Insurance Plan with the New Carrier. You will need to do this first so you can select this new plan as the plan to move the subscribers to in the next step.

Step 2: Go to Tools > Misc Tools > Move Subscribers to move all other subscribers from the old plan to the newly created plan.

Select the plan to move the subscribers from, and the new plan to move them to. A warning will display – click ok to continue. Remember, this cannot be undone so make sure you’ve made a backup before running this tool. Once the process is complete, a notification message will display, letting you know how many subscribers were moved.

Open Dental User Manual See more on our Move Subscribers tool manual page.

Set Lock Dates

More good news – there’s no need to close out the year in Open Dental! 
However, there are a few options if you want to “lock” the information to prevent edits to historical data.

If using Accounting in Open Dental, lock accounting entries by going to Manage> Accounting> Lock, then enter the lock date.

Open Dental User Manual More on our Lock Accounting Entries manual page

To set Global Lock Dates to prevent changes to historical data, go to Setup> Security> Security Settings

Open Dental User Manual More on our Security Lock Dates manual page.

Update CDT Codes

Each year, the ADA releases updated CDT codes. Since the new CDT codes cannot be used on claims until after January 1, we recommend you update your software now, then run the CDT update tool at the close of your last business day of the year.

2021 CDT codes are available in versions 20.3.48 and 20.4.28 or greater

Some helpful resources:
 QuickTip Video: How to Update Open Dental to a New Version
        QuickTip Video: How to Update Your CDT Codes
Open Dental User Manual Procedure Code Tools manual page

To update CDT codes, go to Lists > Procedure Codes > and Tools. The D codes tool will be checked by default – click Run Now. Do not run any other tool in the Procedure Code Tools list.

Update Fee Schedules

You may want to increase your fees at the start of a new year. We recommend this process be done after you’ve seen your last patient of the year, and you’re ready to use new fees for anything being charted. Take these steps to increase fees in your fee schedule.

Some helpful resources:
QuickTip Video: Updating UCR (Office Fees)
Open Dental User Manual Fees Increase manual page

Step 1: Go to Lists> Procedure Codes and bring up the existing office fee schedule (Standard in this example).

Step 2. Create a new fee schedule, Normal Type, name it Standard_YYYYArchive.  This is done to create a backup/archive of the old fees. This fee schedule can be hidden if not needed.

Step 3: Copy the data from the existing fee schedule into the newly created fee schedule using Fee Tools.

Close windows, then compare the existing fee schedule (Standard) with the Archive fee schedule just created/copied. The numbers should match – success!

Step 4: Using Fee Tools, increase fees in the existing Office Fees Fee Schedule (Standard) – in this example, increasing by 3%, rounded to the nearest dollar.

Step 5: If you want to update all fees in active treatment plans, go to Fee Tools, and run the Global Update Fees tool. (If you honor quoted rates for a certain length of time, wait until that period is over, then update. You can always click the “Update Fees” button in the patient’s treatment plan to update one at a time.)

Normally, the Global Update Write-offs can be used at the same time as Update Fees. HOWEVER, if you are a large practice, running Global Updates on Write-offs can cause slowness and take several hours to complete. We recommend the Global Update Write-offs tool be run after hours.
NOTE: If only the global update fees tool is run, updates to any write-off calculations will occur when that patient’s appointment, account, or treatment plan is accessed. However, any report or query on treatment planned procedures that also includes write-offs or patient portions will not be accurate.

Open Dental User Manual See more on our Global Update Fees manual page

Update Fee Guides (Canada)

If you are a Canadian practice, you will need to download the updated fee guides for your province. Fee guides are published on our Canada Fee Guides manual page as they are made available, so check back often for updates.

The Ontario Fee Guide has been released in Version 20.4.31 or 20.5.4 and greater.

TECH TIP: Please check with your province for the effective date of your fee guide.

Some helpful resources:
 QuickTip Video: How to Update Open Dental to a New Version
        QuickTip Video: Import a Fee Guide
Open Dental User Manual Canada Fee Guides Manual Page

Congratulations on another year of bringing smiles to so many, during one of the most difficult periods in recent history. We want to keep you smiling as you click through your to-do list, so please contact us if you need help.

A penny for your thoughts...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.