Growing Your Practice

Your Comprehensive Open Dental Reopening Toolkit

Updated 7/26/2022

As you re-open your practice after the COVID shutdown, you’re returning to a different reality, new protocols, and a fair amount of uncertainty. This post takes our previous post on this topic and expands it to include even more features recently released in Stable Version 20.2 for a comprehensive reopening toolkit to help as you ramp up operations. Update your software to get access to all the latest tools.

Schedule (Re-Schedule) your patients

Schedule New Appointments:

Managing Recall is always important, but especially important now, as patients that would have come in during the Spring have not pre-appointed for fall either, due to missed recall appointments. Because of this, your fall schedule may be much lighter than you would see with typical seasonal slowness. Taking a deep dive into your recall will be especially important not only for your patients’ health but for your practice’s financial well-being as well.

Add Web Sched Recall to your toolkit, and you’ll be able to send a link to your patients to have them schedule their own appointment online. And once set up, Web Sched Recall will send out Recall reminders automatically. This will save you valuable work hours and we know you have a lot to do during this time!

Tech Tip: Want to automate your Recall List but not allow patients to schedule on their own? You can do that! See Send Automatic Text or Email Recall Reminders on our Manual Page for instructions.

Check-in with your patients who have outstanding treatment.
Delaying care is a problem, and with the shutdown period, your patients have not been getting care (or spending their insurance benefits or FSA funds). Neither should go to waste, so it’s time to run the Treatment Finder Report.

Go to Reports> Standard. Under Lists, select the Treatment Finder report. By default, patients without insurance and patients with existing appointments are excluded from this report.

Use filters to refine the results for patients treatment planned after a certain date, specific clinic or providers, specific procedure codes (or a code range), etc. Once you’ve entered the criteria, click Refresh List.

Re-Schedule Canceled Appointments

You probably have weeks or even months of appointments that had to be canceled due to COVID-19. Now that you’re open again, it’s time to reschedule those appointments.

If you left patients on the schedule, go into the days you had the appointments on the schedule. As you contact each patient, use the Pinboard to move the appointment to the new date/time.

If you had moved the appointments to the Unscheduled List, you can filter the list and re-schedule based on priority, procedure, or provider.

Screen Patients Before Treatment

The Dental Patient Screening Form, designed according to the ADA’s COVID-19 screening form, is available as a Sheet in Open Dental (in versions 19.4.40 and greater). Update your software today to begin using this sheet.

See the recommended workflow and several options for getting this form to your patients before their visit on our COVID Screening page.

Recording patient temperatures?
Add temperature as an Appointment Field so you can quickly record and view patient temperature information in Open Dental (and see it in your appointment view).
See our online manual or watch the QuickTip Video for how to add this field.

Control the Number of Patients in the Waiting Room

The Arrivals feature in Open Dental was designed specifically to address social distancing, and the need to control how many people may be in your waiting room. It is available to anyone using eConfirmations.
Once setup is complete, it works like this:

  • Arrivals automatically sends a text message to patients requesting they wait in their car before their appointment.
  • When the patient arrives, they will reply to your text with “Arrived”.
  • This changes the Appointment status to Arrived and an automated text message is sent asking the patient to wait outside.
  • An Alert will display in the top menu (next to Help) to notify the office.
  • When you’re ready for the patient to come into the practice, right-click on the appointment and send a Come In text message to the patient stating they can come inside the building.

Update Your UCR Fees

Enhanced infection control protocols may result in your practice raising your rates. If you are increasing your office fees, see our QuickTip Video on Updating UCR Fees.

Track and Bill for PPE

The ADA has issued updated COVID-19 Coding and Billing Guidance as it relates to PPE which suggests that procedure code D1999 should be used.

Creating a New Procedure Code for PPE

If you want a different description to show for patients, or you use this procedure code for other reasons and want to track PPE  specifically, you’ll want to create a new procedure code in Open Dental (i.e. D1999.1). Since only the first 5 characters of a procedure code send on a claim, it won’t affect your claim but will still allow you to track and report on the usage of this code separately using the Procedures Report.

To create a code in Open Dental, go to Lists > Procedure Codes > +New.

Need to track PPE Payments from Carriers?

The ADA has issued a Statement on Third-Party Payer Reimbursement for Costs Associated with Increased Standards for PPE with guidance for payers and providers. If you’ve received an insurance payment for PPE and need to see how many patients were seen in a date range to make sure you’re receiving the appropriate payment from the carrier, we have a query you can use to pull this information.

Go to our Query Examples page. The query is #1529 (it’s the LAST one on this page at the time of this post). Right-click into the box, select all, then copy.

In Open Dental, go to Reports > User Query and click the Paste button.
Modify the start date and Carrier (spelling and capitalization are important here) as shown in the example below, then click Submit Query.

This will give you a count of the number of visits for patients with the specified Carrier so you can verify you’re receiving appropriate payments.

Need help? Watch our QuickTip Video on Finding & Running a Query

Incentivize Patients to Come In

Your patients may have lost their insurance coverage and may need some financial incentive to get the care they need. You may also be considering a special promotion to bring in new patients into your practice. There are a couple ways to handle these situations in Open Dental.

Discount Plans can be offered to patients without insurance.

Create a fee schedule with the discounted prices, then associate that fee schedule with the Discount Plan.
Open the patient’s insurance plan and click Drop, then click on ‘Discount Plan’ in the menu bar to add the discount plan instead. Patients will pay the discounted rate, and you can track the discount using adjustments.

Offer a Promotion to Attract New Patients

If you’re considering a new patient promotion, such as a $99 New Patient Exam, you have a couple of options:

Option 1: Create a procedure code specific to the promotion. This option is best if you want to track patients who received the promotion.

  1. Create a new procedure code for the promotion. Enter the promotional fee in the fee schedule.
  2. Chart the procedure code for the promotion.
  3. Chart the procedures related to the promotion and zero out the fee for each.
  4. When the procedures are set complete, the fee is charged on the Promo Code, but the related procedures will still show.

Option 2. Use adjustments. This option is best if you want to track the discount.

  1. Chart all procedures at the full fee and set them complete.
  2. Add adjustments to each procedure so that the total matches the promotional price.


There are many tools in Open Dental but they are not the only tools you have in your reopening toolkit. You have us!

Our support team is ready to assist you as you reopen and ramp up operations. If you need help troubleshooting or need us to remote into your computer to help, calling us is the way to go. But if you have a quick question about something or need help finding the manual page (or a video) for detailed instructions, try online chat. We look forward to helping you!

A penny for your thoughts...

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