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Orthodontic Features

Open Dental works well in offices that do orthodontic work. We continue to refine and expand features for this specialty. Below are hints, features and guidelines for orthodontic use.

General Setup
Chart Module Preferences: Set the tooth nomenclature to Palmer.
Ortho Setup
: Set default orthodontic preferences for display options, claims, and the ortho chart.
Ortho Chart Setup: Create tabs to organize ortho chart information and set which columns of information show on each tab.
Procedure Code List: Add and edit procedure codes and set default procedure fees and time patterns. You will generally have two types of procedure codes.

  • Procedure codes for charging fees/billing insurance (typically standard ADA codes). If you have different fees for the same procedure, add suffixes to the ADA codes to differentiate them. Only 5 digits of the code are sent in claims, so any extra letters will be dropped when billing.
  • Procedure codes for scheduling patients only (N codes). These no fee procedures would not be billed to insurance. For example, N0001 could be "Take records", and N0002 could be "Cement bands". See Adding Procedure Codes. When creating an N code, check '"do not bill to insurance".

Patient Management
Patient Clone: This tool creates a "clone" of the original patient (in ALL CAPS) so that specific demographic information and insurance plan data can be synched from original to clone patient. Useful for offices that offer general dentistry and orthodontics so you can keep accounting separate. For example, track production and income for different types of providers that treat the same patient, such as dentist versus orthodontist work.

Simply add the procedure(s) to the appointment, assign your provider, then schedule it. See Scheduling Appointments.

Appointment schedule: To quickly identify appointment providers or type by color, there are a few options:

  • If patients are typically scheduled with specific assistants, you may want to add your assistants as secondary providers and assign them to the appointments. Then you can use appointment color to quickly see which assistant is assigned to each appointment.
  • To quickly identify orthodontic procedures by appointment color, create one orthodontic provider to assign to orthodontic appointments (e.g. Orthodontist).
  • Set up different Appointment Types (e.g. 'ortho', initial impression, wire change) and assign to each appointment.


  • To manage 'next' appointments, use Planned Appointments. Then use the Planned Appointment Tracker to ensure planned appointments don't slip through the cracks.
  • Make sure time patterns for initial procedure codes are accurate so that each appointment reflects correct provider time (X = provider time).
  • You can book many patients simultaneously and there is no restriction or limit on overbooking appointments. This makes it easy to move patients to the best times. Try to schedule the patients so that the provider time stays fairly constant, even if it sometimes gets double booked.

Enter procedures in the Chart module and organize them in Treatment Plans.

  • Ortho Chart: Keep track of visits.
  • You can change any fee for any procedure after adding it to the patient's chart.
  • Exam Sheets can replace any paper exam forms that you record findings on.
  • Customize treatment 'priority' names to sequence treatment as needed. See Definitions, TreatPlan Priorities.

Insurance and Billing

  • Enter an insurance plan's orthodontic lifetime max and percentage on the Edit Benefits window.
  • Define the insurance plan's orthodontic claim preferences on the Edit Insurance Plan - Ortho Tab.
  • Quickly view a patient's orthodontic case information in the Account module, Ortho Case tab or in the Ortho Chart.
  • Add procedures for billing purposes only using Quick Procs or by simply setting a procedure complete.
  • Payment Plans: Set up an unlimited amount of payment plans per patient. The guarantor does not have to be in the same family as the patient. You have total control over the date, principal, and interest of every single payment on the amortization schedule.
  • Auto Ortho Tool: When a plan requires that you submit an initial claim, then submit periodic claims at a certain frequency and fee, you can use the auto ortho tool to quickly generate periodic claims.

Referrals: Track and report on referrals to see at a glance who referred each patient to your office. You can merge letters for your referral sources as well.
Patient Letters: Use patient letters to create school excuse slips or other patient communication.

Orthodontic Feature Requests
Below are some of the current Feature Requests related to orthodontics. Click Help, Feature Request to vote for your favorites or to search for others.

Planned Improvements:

  • Enable graphic display on tooth chart of orthodontic appliances. #108
  • Hide unused or unwanted entries in the Ortho Chart. #3647
  • Ability to hide Quick Buttons procedure code category. May benefit ortho offices that don't want to reconfigure the Quick Buttons defaults. #118
  • Patient check-in terminal. You could place a terminal in the reception area for the patient to check themselves in and easily track their progress through the office. #214
  • Referral letters and patient letters pull data from most recent version of Exam Sheet. #2047
  • Filter Progress Notes by provider. Useful for practices with ortho and general dental providers. #1760
  • Add ortho benefits to Insurance Remaining in Account and Treatment Plan Modules. #2653
  • Ortho insurance age limit box in Edit Benefits window. #2839

Other Feature Requests

  • #2676 - Ability to set Chart Module background color for Procedure Codes. Useful for practices with ortho and general dental providers.
  • #2775 - Ability to dock Ortho Chart to Chart Module.
  • #3243 - Quick paste note functionality in the Ortho Chart.
  • #3144 - Add Ortho Chart fields to sheets fields.  To populate patient letters with already entered information.
  • #3200 - Print screen button on Ortho Chart.
  • #2928 - Multiple same-day entries for ortho chart. To account for patients that come in twice in one day.
  • #3129 - Ability to add late fees to late payment plan payments.  Useful for ortho office which frequently use payment plans.
  • #24 - Custom mounts for digital radiography and photos. This is how image composites will make their way onto sheets.
  • #710 - Show graphical tooth chart as of a certain date. Useful for orth offices to demonstrate teeth movement.
  • #271 - Referral letters include variables for planned/completed procedure codes. Useful to plan future work where some procedures depend on other specialists' work.
  • #350 - Payment plan coupons: Print a coupon book that the patient can use to send in with each payment rather than depending on getting a bill.
  • Not requested yet: Graphical charting of elastics. Click and drag to draw elastic on the tooth chart. Allow specifying size and strength for each elastic.


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