Open Dental

Open Dental for Specialty Practices: Pediatric


Specialty dental practices require tools designed to work with their unique needs. In this post, we’ll review Open Dental features that are optimized for pediatric dentists.

Billing and Account Management

When managing a pediatric practice it’s important that bills are being sent to the correct responsible party (e.g., parent or guardian) and not the minor child. Open Dental allows you to easily add a guarantor as a non-patient in order to ensure they are responsible for billing, and other non-patients can also be added as needed for things like the insurance subscriber.

When adding your child patient, you can easily add the adult(s) as well using the Add Many button from the Select Patient window (Ctrl+P).

Add the account guarantor first and change the Status to Non-Patient. If there is another adult in the family, add them next and also change their Status to Non-Patient.

If you’re also adding insurance, you can do so from this window too! In the bottom-left, use the Pick From List buttons in the Insurance 1 and Insurance 2 areas to add primary and secondary insurance plans, then make sure to select a subscriber and enter a subscriber ID. Once you’ve done that, connect the insurance plan to your pediatric patients by checking the Insurance 1 and 2 boxes for each patient as applicable.

Once you’ve saved, if you entered a non-patient adult into the first column of the Add Many window, they will be the family guarantor.

If you’ve already created your family or accidentally entered the adult as a patient, this can easily be fixed, just double-click the Patient Information area from the Family Module to open Edit Patient Information to change the Status to Non-Patient. If a child was set as guarantor of their family, use the Add button to add the adult as a Non-Patient to the family (or if the adult has been created outside of the child’s family, use the Move button to move the child into the parent’s family), then select the adult and click Set Guarantor to make the adult the guarantor.

With this setup, any bills or statements are addressed to the responsible adult party (guarantor) rather than the minor child, and the adult will only show up on reports that include non-patients.

In addition to family guarantors, you can also set additional adults as a Guardian or a Responsible Party. First, add the person in Open Dental (this can be done as a non-patient, like with a Guarantor).

  • To mark as a Guardian, in the Edit Patient Information window, click Add in the Family Relationships area. Select the family member to add as a guardian, choose the relationship, and check the Guardian checkbox.

TECH TIP: You can also add Guardians to your Appointment View to easily see these relationships from the Appointments Module.

  • To choose a Responsible Party, go to Setup, Advanced Setup, Show Features and enable Public Health. Then, from the Edit Patient Information window, Public Health tab, choose the Responsible Party.

Patient Portal

Setting up relationships for the parent or guardian also makes it so they can have easy access to the child’s information via the Patient Portal as an Authorized Representative.

If you want all family guarantors to have access, just make sure to enable Allow guarantor access to family health information in the Patient Portal in Preferences. Otherwise, make sure to set up the adult as Guardian or Responsible Party, then you can provide Patient Portal Access to them with their own login and password.

From the Patient Portal, Authorized Representatives can view:

  • Payments
  • Statements/Receipts
  • Some patient information from the Family Module, Imaging Module, Webmail, and Care Summary

Age Limitations

Treating pediatric patients means you deal with age limitations regularly. Open Dental makes these easy to manage.

The first is with recall. In Setup, Appointments, Recall Types, use the Child Prophy recall type to easily set an age limit for your Child Prophy appointments. Once a patient meets the age entered, they’ll automatically be scheduled for Adult Prophy instead. Just make sure to use the Make Recall (from the Appointments Module) or the Sched Patient/Sched Family buttons when making your recall appointments and Open Dental will make sure the correct procedures are attached.

Then comes insurance age limits. In the Edit Benefits window, you can easily enter Through Ages for sealants, fluoride, and ortho, but those aren’t the only age limits you can enter. If insurance places age limits on other procedures, simply add an Other Benefit by clicking Add at the bottom of the window.

Enter the procedure code or select the applicable category, then choose the following

  • Type: Limitation
  • Time Period: Select the time period that matches the plan setup (i.e., Calendar Year or Service Year)
  • Qualifier: AgeLimit, enter the age limit in the field above
  • Coverage Level: None

Web Sched Notifications

If your practice is utilizing Web Sched Recall, reminders will be sent to the patient’s Authorized Representative (e.g., Parent or Guardian). This way, important reminders aren’t being sent to the child if their cell phone number is on file.

Primary Dentition

In the Chart Module, it’s easy to view primary dentition (and chart treatment) for your pediatric patients. Click the Missing/Primary tab and use the buttons to quickly change teeth from permanent to primary. Use Set All Primary to change all teeth to primary or Set Mixed Dentition to show a combination of primary and permanent for older patients (8-12 years old). Select specific teeth and use the Primary/Permanent buttons to change the status of the selected teeth.

pediatric - dentition

Now, when going to chart treatment, you’ll be able to select primary teeth, rather than entering the treatment area manually.

TECH TIP: Does the child have supernumerary teeth? Follow the instructions here to number teeth correctly for charting treatment and sending on insurance claims. Procedures for supernumerary teeth do not show on the Graphical Tooth Chart, but they do get billed to insurance. To show a supernumerary tooth on the Graphical Tooth Chart use the Draw tool to draw in a tooth.

Use these tools to help streamline the administrative tasks of your pediatric practice and ensure that proper documentation is kept for each patient.

If you have any questions, our helpful and friendly Support Team is here to assist you.

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

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