Open Dental

Customizing Open Dental for Your Practice Specialty


As a dental professional, you know the importance of having practice management software that is tailored to your specific needs. Open Dental offers a range of customization options that can help you optimize your workflow and improve patient care. In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can customize the software for your practice specialty by customizing Procedure Buttons, Auto Notes, and Quick Paste Notes, the Chart Module Layout, Recall Types, using Provider/Clinic Fee Overrides, and enabling Patient Dashboards.

Procedure Buttons

One of the most important and helpful customization features is Procedure Buttons. You may know these as “explosion codes. These buttons allow you to quickly chart the most commonly used procedures in your practice and they’re fully customizable, so whether you’re a general dentist or an oral surgeon, you can customize these to suit your needs.

To customize these buttons, simply go to Setup, Chart, Procedure Buttons. You can add multiple procedures to a single Procedure Button and attach Auto Codes. You can also create categories to organize your Procedure Buttons and re-order them using the Up/Down buttons.

From the Chart, simply click a Procedure Button to chart any attached procedures.

TECH TIP: Auto Codes are also customizable. They work behind the scenes to choose the correct procedure code from a list based on preset conditions (e.g., treatment area).

In addition to Procedure Buttons, from Definitions, customize Appt Procs Quick Adds (to quickly chart commonly-used procedures when scheduling appointments) and Account Procs Quick Adds (to quickly post procedures directly to the Account, like products).

Chart Module Layout

The Chart Module Layout is another way you can customize Open Dental to be optimized for your practice. The Chart Layout is edited using the Sheets interface, allowing you to add, remove, or move elements around in the Chart Module.


To customize the Chart Module Layout, click the Layout button in the Chart Module and select Add/Edit Layouts. From here, you can create a copy of the default Chart Layout, or click New to create a blank layout if you want to start from scratch.

Recall Types

Recall Types are already set up for things like exams, prophys, and x-rays in Open Dental by default- which is great if you’re a general dentist, but if you’re a specialty practice, you likely won’t need these Recall Types. Luckily, they too can be fully customized.

For example, as an endodontist, you may want to create a recall for a 6-month post-op follow-up for any root canal patients. To create your custom Recall Types, go to Setup, Appointments, Recall Types.


Once you’ve made your custom Recall Types, make sure to select them in your Recall Setup, so any patients who don’t schedule their follow-up appointments will show up on the Recall List and be less likely to slip through the cracks.

Patient Dashboard

Customize the Patient Dashboard to display the patient information that is relevant to your practice, or even to specific users/user groups. There are two default layouts for the Patient Dashboard, but you can customize them to your needs with different Static Text Fields, Grids, and Special fields (like the Tooth Chart or Insurance).


Auto Notes & Quick Paste Notes

Open Dental also offers the ability to customize note templates using Auto Notes and Quick Paste Notes. These notes can be used to quickly document common findings or recommendations.

Use Auto Notes to be able to have prompts when adding notes. These can be used in Procedures Notes as well as other places throughout the program.

Quick Paste Notes on the other hand are a way to quickly enter frequently-used text, without needing to type it out. You can create keyboard shortcuts or insert Quick Paste Notes from a list. These too can be used throughout the program, in Payment Notes, Procedure Notes, Commlogs, and more

Provider/Clinic Fee Overrides

Finally, Provider/Clinic Fee Overrides are another important customization option. If you have multiple locations and are using Clinics or have providers that charge different rates, this allows you to put overrides in a single fee schedule.

From Lists, Procedure Codes, select a fee schedule from the right side and choose the provider or Clinic (or both if the override applies only for a provider when at a specific Clinic) you’d like to enter fees for.

Tech Tip: Uncheck Use Global Fees on a fee schedule to enter provider/clinic overrides. If you’re using Clinics, make sure headquarters is selected to uncheck this.

Other Things to Customize

There are many things in Open Dental that can be customized from text and background colors to display fields. Find out more about different ways to customize the program by going to our manual links below:

  • Definitions – Set colors, add options (like Payment Types), and more
  • Display Fields – Choose which fields display in different parts of the program (and in what order)
  • Preferences – Enable and disable preferences
  • Appointment Views – Determine which fields and Operatories appear in the Appointments Module; set up different Appointment Views

Don’t forget to also check out our previous blog posts on Ortho Features and using Open Dental for Pediatric Practices for even more tips and tricks on using the program for your specific specialty.

If you have any questions or need a hand, reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable Support Techs.

Information in this post reflects features available in Open Dental Version 23.1. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our manual.

A penny for your thoughts...

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