Tech Savvy

User Favorite Open Dental Hacks

We love hearing how people use our software, and the features and tools that have been game-changers for their practice. Today, we’re going to share some of our own tips, along with some of our users’ favorite Open Dental Hacks from a few threads on Facebook groups. Here we go!

Some General Hacks

  • Open the Open Dental program more than once to work in different areas of the program simultaneously!
    This is a top user favorite and is best used with two monitors. You can have one “instance” of Open Dental open on one screen, let’s say, in the Appointments Module for when you answer calls from patients to schedule, while your other screen can have another instance of Open Dental open with your current task (maybe billing, maybe processing insurance payments).
  • Want to be prompted when you log off or exit out?
    If you click “Log Off” or exit out (using the X in the upper right) you can be prompted if you want to log off.
    If you’ve accidentally said “Do not show me this message again” but you didn’t really mean it (you’d like to be prompted), go to File > User Settings and uncheck the box ‘Close/Log off message is suppressed’.
  • Use right-click to copy/paste the contents of a cell to save time.
    Check out our blog post on other right-click magic in Open Dental!
  • Keyboard shortcuts have been a hot topic. While there aren’t a lot of them in Open Dental, here are several.
    Ctrl+D will enter today’s date!
    Ctrl+Q will bring up a list of available Quick Paste Notes
    Ctrl+Shift+F
    opens the Procedure Codes window (usually accessed from Lists > Procedure Codes)
    Ctrl+Shift+C opens the Contacts List in Open Dental
    Ctrl+Shift+W opens the Wiki
    Alt+F opens the File window
    Alt+S opens the Setup window
    Alt+R opens the Reports window
    Alt+T opens the Tools menu
    Alt+H opens the Help menu
    Alt+O will immediately log you off!
    If you’re using prompts within an AutoNote, Alt+N will take you to the next prompt, Alt+B will go back.
    Have you found other keyboard shortcuts? Comment below – we’re working on a running list for you!
    Want more? Please add your votes to feature requests to see more implemented. Here’s a list of related feature requests.

Account Module Hacks

  • Click to select a procedure before you do a payment or adjustment. The payment or adjustment will automatically be attached to this procedure.
  • To preview a patient statement when issuing it from the patient’s Account, click More Options, then use the View button.
  • If a patient has a balance due and you’re not sure what it’s for, click Payment, then enter a 0. Proceed to the payment window and see all of the services and dates of service with payments outstanding.
  • Add a Supplemental Insurance Payment when you receive an additional payment on a claim.

Appointment Module Preferences & Hacks

  • Turn a patient’s name RED when they’ve been waiting too long.
    First, go to Setup > Appointments > Appts Preferences. Set your waiting room alert time in minutes, and assign a color for the text when the patient’s wait time exceeds your optimal wait time.

    When a patient’s time in the waiting room exceeds the value you’ve set up, they will show in the assigned color – red in this case.
  • Track patient-related to-do’s without sticky-notes? Yes, you can! There are two ways to do this:
    1. Create Patient Notes, and place them in a “Notes” operatory (column) – we’ve seen several practices who love this method.
      Click on the Pat Appts button (View Pat Appts button in older versions) – this opens a window where you can create a note that’s associated with the patient. Click the Note for Patient button, then enter your note. The note is placed on the pinboard, for you to click/drag to the appropriate date/time. When the task is done, set it complete – the rest of the office knows it’s done because it turns gray.
      Patient notes are especially useful in these scenarios:
      – Actions not related to a specific appointment
      – The patient does not have an appointment scheduled
      – There’s a to-do for a patient on a date other than when they have their appointment
      – You want to track the status of the action item separate from the appointment (because patient notes can be set complete separate from the patient appointment)
      Patient notes are part of the patient’s record in the Chart Module and appear in the Progress Notes area.
    2. Use Tasks, they’re fantastic! The setup can be a little tricky, but we’re here to help you do that, please give us a call! This blog post with several videos will walk you through it if you’d prefer to take care of this yourself. Use Reminder Tasks for future-dated to-do’s (we use these all the time here at Open Dental).
  • Create a patient dashboard to quickly see the most important patient info.
    Patient DOB, appointments (history and scheduled), the treatment that needs to be scheduled, etc. – you decide!

    Want to set one up? Here’s a video to walk you through it:

Family Module Hacks

  • Set Required Fields to ensure critical information is collected and entered.
    You can mark fields as required in the Edit Patient Information, Add Family, and Edit Insurance Payment windows.  Users will get a pop-up and won’t be able to save information on those windows until the required information is entered.
    Find the step-by-step instructions on how to set fields as required in our online manual.

Chart Module Hacks

  • Planned Appointments and the Planned Tracker allow you to create treatment groupings based on priorities you’ve agreed upon with your patient. Here are some of the benefits of using planned appointments:
    – The patient’s next appointment is planned out including the time needed for treatment. Next visit copay is easy to see as well.
    – If the patient leaves without scheduling but calls back later, the Front Desk can quickly see what’s next, and get them scheduled for the next planned appointment, eliminating the conflict that happens between clinical staff and the front desk.
    – Use the Planned Tracker report to quickly fill last-minute openings in your schedule.
    Want to learn more about Planned Appointments? Check out this post. If you need help using this feature, we’re here for you!
  • Color-code commlogs by type. One user mentioned that they’ve set it up so Financial is green, Treatment Plan is red, Misc is teal, Referral is orange, Appt Related is purple, etc. This makes it much easier to glance through the type of communication you’re looking for without having to read through everything. Customize these colors in Setup > Definitions > Commlog Types. Open each commlog type, then click on the color box to customize the color.

    Then, as you record communications, be sure to select the appropriate commlog type.

Imaging Module Hacks

  • If you have an image in a folder or on your desktop, you can click/drag that image into the appropriate folder in your Imaging Module. Note: You may not be able to do this if you have selected “run as Administrator” when Opening the program.

Game-Changing Features

Lab Cases help you monitor cases as they move through the process and provides visibility to labs attached to planned and scheduled appointments, to help prevent situations where a patient shows up for a seat/delivery appointment without their lab being ready for them! See our Lab Cases post for more details. It takes a little setup, but we’re always here to help you with that!

Procedure Buttons can help you chart multiple procedures with a single click. Combine it with AutoCodes for even more efficiency. Learn more in our Procedure Buttons, Quick Buttons, and AutoCodes webinar.

Auto Notes are templates used to insert frequently entered, large notes (for hygiene, root canals, materials, anesthetic, post-op instructions, etc). In addition to static text, prompts can offer a selection of responses or the ability to enter text. This helps keep notes consistent and complete – you won’t forget to enter important info when you’re prompted!

A customized Routing Slip can be tailored to suit the specific needs of your practice. It can include a variety of information which will help keep your processes consistent and make training new employees easier. It can also be used to help the clinical staff give a heads-up to the front desk about any items the require follow-up, whatever you need! Dr. Olya Banchik was kind enough to share the highly-customized route slip they use in their practice.

Dr. Banchik shared this with us about how this Routing Slip is used at Reafield Dental

“The way we use it – the route slips are prepared the night before. The assistant or hygienist takes it and uses the top part to review today’s procedures; The top part is torn off and will be handed as the patient leaves (during the checkout handoff). Any changes to procedures do get recorded in OD but also on the route slips (just checks and balances). This also reminds everyone to complete everything pertaining to the patient prior to the patient leaving.

The bottom part gets torn off and any future notes get written – so we never forget to do something we are supposed to do for the patient but don’t have time to do it immediately (or can’t do immediately because we are waiting on something). It gets placed into a box and then is reviewed and followed up.

We are completely paperless but this is one of the few paper things that we do and it helps us be consistent and never forget something because we are a very busy practice and sometimes things can slip through the cracks. 

I love that the patient’s name and date is automatically printed on both top and bottom pieces so it makes it very easy to keep track of everything.”


Comment below to tell us about your favorite hack, feature, or keyboard shortcut! As always, if you need help or want more information about any of these, you can always reach out to our support team.

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