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Orthodontic Practices

Open Dental will work well in an Orthodontic office. Here are some specific guidelines. As the program continues to mature, features specific to orthodontists, periodontists and OMS will be refined and expanded.

First of all, if you like to schedule patients with specific assistants, then you will probably want to set up your assistants as secondary Providers. Then, when scheduling appointments, you can easily tell by the appointment color which assistant is assigned. See the section on Editing Appointments for an explanation of assigning providers to appointments. If you don't normally worry too much about which assistant sees the patient, then you could just use one provider for the Orthodontist, and all patients would be assigned that provider.

Patient Clone
The Patient Clone tool creates a "clone" patient whose data can be synched with an original patient record.   This is useful for tracking production and income for different types of providers that treat the same patient.  For example, use clones to track dentist work versus orthodontist work. 

Just as in any office, Procedures for a patient are entered in the Chart module ahead of time and then organized in the Treatment Plan module. You can name the priorities in the Treatment Plan module to allow you to sequence your treatment as needed. You also set up your Procedure Codes ahead of time with the standard fees and time patterns. But, in an orthodontic office, you would set up some extra no-fee procedures ahead of time. You will generally have two types of procedures: procedures used for charging fees, and procedures used for scheduling patients.

For scheduling purposes, you would create a set of procedures that begin with N, for no-fee. For instance N0001 could be "Take records", and N0002 could be "Cement bands". Neither of these procedures would be billed to insurance, so when setting up the procedure codes, check the box for "do not bill to insurance". You can continue to set up as many procedures as you want, one for each different type of appointment.

You would also set up procedure codes specifically for insurance billing purposes. These would be standard ADA codes, although if you have different fees for the same procedure, that can also be handled by setting up ADA codes with one-letter suffixes on them. The extra letter gets dropped when billing. You can, of course, change any fee for any procedure after adding it to the patient's chart.

Insurance Estimates
In the Edit Benefits window you can enter orthodontic lifetime max and percentage.  These will be calculated separately from the General category.

Payment Plans
See the Payment Plans section for information on how to enter a payment plan. You can have unlimited payment plans per patient and the guarantor does not have to be in the same family as the patient, making divorce situations much easier. You have total control over the date, principal, and interest of every single payment on the amortization schedule.

Scheduling Appointments
Scheduling appointments is handled the same as in any other office, except that you will generally only be scheduling one procedure for an appointment instead of multiple procedures. Set up your appointments using the Planned Appointment feature. If you need to add a procedure that is only used for billing purposes, remember that you do not necessarily have to set up an appointment to enter a completed procedure. You can simply double click on the procedure from the Chart module or the Treatment Plan module, and change the status to Complete. That will cause it to show in the Account module as a completed procedure to be billed.

When scheduling appointments, it will be common to have many patients simultaneously booked. There is no limit or restriction on overbooking which will make it easy to move patients to the best times. You should try to set up your initial procedure codes with the time pattern showing the appropriate number of X's, which represent provider time. That way, each appointment will also have the correct provider time. The front desk should try to schedule the patients so that the provider time stays fairly constant, even if it sometimes gets double booked.

Tracking Patients
You can use the Planned Appointment Tracker to make sure none of your followup appointments slip through the cracks. If you use it as intended, you will not have to keep any appointments on the Unscheduled list, although you can still use that feature if you wish.

Referral tracking and reporting will allow you to see at a glance who referred each patient to your office. You can run reports, and merge letters for your referral sources as well.

Palmer Notation
In Chart Module Preferences is a box where you can set the tooth nomenclature to Palmer.

Exam Sheets
There is a kind of Sheet called an Exam Sheet. This is a form that you fill out during an exam to record findings. Exam Sheets can have any scanned image as their background, so they could replace any paper exam forms that are currently being used.

Ortho Chart
Keep track of visits in a grid format. See Ortho Chart.

School Excuse Slips
Use a Patient Letter Sheet. Use static text fields as described on the Sheets page, to automatically add information about the patient and appointment.

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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