Open Dental

Do’s and Don’ts for Setup and Cleanup

setup and cleanup

The new year is a fresh start. As you organize and clean up your office, you may also be looking at things in your practice management software that are outdated and need sprucing up. In this post, we’ll share the do’s and don’ts of setup and cleanup in Open Dental to prevent unintended consequences like changes to historical data.

Here’s a topic list to quickly jump to the section you need.

In the Setup Category…

Add Pay Periods

If your employees are clocking in but nothing is showing up in their timecard, you need to set up more pay periods! Don’t worry, their clock activity is saved, and once pay periods are set up, their activity will be displayed.


Follow the steps on our manual page. Use the Generate Many button to get pay periods set up for the whole year – and beyond. If you don’t want to see older pay periods, check the check box – anything older than 6 months will be hidden.

setup timecard

Although you can manually add each pay period using the Add One button, it’ll save you time to generate a whole bunch of pay periods at once. You can tweak the settings to get things set up just right.

Add New Employees/Providers

Your practice may be experiencing increased turnover. Adding new employees or providers is much more than just giving them a login for Open Dental.


new hire checklist Use our handy New Hire Checklist to set your new hire up for Open Dental success.


Employees should never share a login or know other users’ passwords. Users in your practice will need different levels of access, so don’t forget to set each employee up with their own user account, and use User Groups to manage permissions.

TECH TIP: When each employee has their own login, you can track who took what action and when using Audit Trail tools in Open Dental. Learn more in our post: Tracking Actions with the Audit Trail.

Install Open Dental on New Workstations

With new employees come new computers.


If you need to install Open Dental on a workstation, preparation is key to making sure everything is set up correctly so your new staff can hit the ground running.

Installing Open Dental Use the steps in our post: Installing Open Dental on Additional Workstations to set things up correctly, right from the start.


If you’re having trouble putting things in place, don’t struggle alone. We’re here for you, so please reach out if you need help. Just to let you know, we may refer you back to your IT for things like network issues.

In the Cleanup Category…

Add or Edit Practice or Provider Schedules


Be sure to set up your practice and provider schedules! This shows you at a glance what slots are available for scheduling, makes manual recall scheduling a breeze (using the Make Recall button), and is required if you’re using Web Sched features to automate your appointment scheduling by allowing patients to schedule their own appointments online.


Don’t overlook the importance of this feature. Schedules allow you to maximize the power of scheduling tools in Open Dental. You can learn more about them in our post: Power Up Your Appointment Module.

Update Fees

Increasing your UCR (office) fees


Follow the steps in our manual or watch the QuickTip Video.


Don’t skip the step where you make a backup of your existing office fee schedule.
We also recommend you make a backup and change the name of the backup, rather than creating a new fee schedule with a new name. If a new fee schedule is created with a new name, you will need to take the extra step to make sure each provider is using the new fee schedule.

Edit fees in an insurance fee schedule


Follow the steps in the ‘Enter Fees’ section of this manual page also shown in this QuickTip Video.


Don’t put off editing your insurance fee schedule. An updated fee schedule means more accurate treatment plan estimates for your patients!

TECH TIP: Want your out-of-network estimates to be more accurate? Use the Blue Book Feature!

When a Provider Leaves and Another Joins the Practice

When a provider leaves the practice, and another one takes their place, a simple misstep can create BIG issues.

  1. For the new provider:
    – Create a new provider and enter all the information for them.
    – Set up their schedule – see our new hire checklist for more details.
  2. For the old provider:
    – Remove their schedule – follow the steps for removing a provider or employee from the schedule, in the Examples section of this manual page.
  3. Open applicable appointment views, and add/remove provider bars as needed.
    If this step is not taken, and the provider’s provider bar is part of an Appointment View, an error message will display when trying to hide the provider. The error message will note the appointment view – in our example, we need to remove our provider from the Appointment View called “All”.
  4. To reassign patients from the previous provider to the new one, follow the instructions in the Move Patients section of this manual page.
  5. The previous provider was assigned to an operatory (or several) right? There is a tool to quickly reassign the provider on future appointments in an operatory! Go to Setup > Appointments > Operatories. Double-click to open the operatory, reassign the provider(s) as needed, then click Update All. See more in our manual.
  6. Open the old provider’s record, and mark them as hidden as shown below.

Never overwrite an old provider’s info with the new provider. This will change all historical data for that provider – claims and procedures done by the old provider will show the new provider’s data. This will affect historical reports as well.

When a Patient’s Insurance Plan Changes

  1. Go into the patient’s existing insurance plan and use the DROP button to remove that plan from your patient.
  2. Then, click Add Insurance and search the existing list of plans using Pick from list. Only add a new insurance plan once you’ve verified that it doesn’t match any of the existing insurance plans. This helps prevent duplicates.

If benefit information has changed, don’t make changes to the plan here unless you are sure the plan benefits have changed, as changes will affect all subscribers on the plan regardless of the radio button setting at the bottom (even if Create new Plan if needed is selected). If it’s a new plan, follow the steps above.

TECH TIP: When an employer switches plans and all subscribers need to be moved:
Go to Setup> Misc Tools> Move Subscribers to move all subscribers at once.

Follow the steps shown on our Move Subscribers manual page.

Whether it’s setup or cleanup, we’re here for you! For a quick answer to a simple question, use online chat. If you need help troubleshooting a more complex issue or need us to remote-connect, give us a call.

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