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Best dental practice management software of 2020

Best dental practice management software
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Dental practice management software offers a much more specialist suite than general medical practice software for doctors and surgeries. While there are similar functionalities in terms of administration, dentists and orthodontists require their own set of clinical management tools and features.

This not least requires the ability to work with dental plans, x-ray sensors, intra-oral cameras, panoramic and cephalometric units, so dental practice management software can't be seen as its own niche as much as a special variant on a theme.

Key features of a dental practice management platform will include the ability to cover administration, such as a calendar and a way to schedule, track, and manage appointments. A billing software section records fees and automate claims with insurance companies, as well as track payment status and automate billing reminders as required. There will often also be a patient portal for self service and provide a direct point of contact with customers. 

However, the main requirement is the ability to work with patient records and charts, and often include some form of graphics or modeling software to plan and record treatments. This will often need to be integrated with imaging equipment and x-ray sensors to make it easier to keep patient records comprehensive and up to date.

As with a lot of other modern software, most of the best dental practice software runs as Software as a Service (SaaS), meaning that it runs in the cloud as an app, meaning you can access it through a browser regardless of your device, and also means it should be mobile friendly.

Here then are the best in dental practice management software platforms. 

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Best DPM - at a glance

  1. Dentrix Ascend
  2. DentiMax
  3. Curve Dental
  4. Dental Intelligence
  5. Open Dental

(Image credit: Dentrix)

1. Dentrix Ascend

For streamlined dental solutions

Good range of features
Automation as central
Cloud-based with analytics

Dentrix Ascend is a cloud-based dental practice management software solution, offering a range of features such as a practice overview, clinical charts and practice reports, imaging, and online book.

The software displays role-based tasks and schedules to users when they log in, to provide clear workflows regarding daily goals and problems. Additionally, predictive problem-solving and automation of repetitive tasks to help improve efficiency and productivity. 

You can work with a single office or multiple offices in different locations, yet share all records between them all, safely and securely. There's a streamlined patient check-in and easy checkout, with patients able to book their appointments directly online.You can also submit insurance claims through the software, as well as monitor progress with claims, as well as send statements and optimize collection of payments.

As a cloud platform, metrics are available so you can measure KPI's and look for actionable insights to improve overall practice performance. Altogether, Dentrix Ascend is a comprehensive practice management platform that covers most of the important bases.

(Image credit: DentiMax)

2. DentiMax

Get the max from your dental practice

Imaging tool integration
Clear pricing
Limited features on cheapest plans

DentiMax provides cloud-based dental practice management software as well as imaging software and radiography sensors, all of which can work easily together.

DentiMax includes a standard range of practice management features for paperless administration, not least patient charts with realistic tooth display, as well as insurance verification and e-prescription functionality. It also includes some nice customizations, not least the ability to set up your own home screen with shortcuts links to areas of the software you're more likely to need. You can also customize patient listings with column and display filters as required.

The company also develops its own imaging software, which can work with a large range of x-ray sensors, intra-oral cameras, panoramic and cephalometric units, as well as its own in-house x-ray sensors. Any of these can work with the DentiMax practice management software to allow images to be saved directly into a patient's records.

There are four different plans available, with the cheapest starting from $59 per month, though with this Starter plan some of the charting and administrative tools are limited. 

The Standard plan offers access to more clinical management tools for $119 per month, while the Complete plan allows for a wider range of paperless features for $239 per month. All three plans are charged with an additional $199 set-up fee.

(Image credit: Curve Dental)

3. Curve Dental

Get away from straight and narrow practices

Good range of features
Price plans not limiting
Imaging customizations

Curve Dental also provides a cloud-based practice management suite that aims to make work easier for assistants, hygienists and dentists. Scheduling is made simple with drag and drop functionality, and uses color coding to make it easier to identify appointment types. Dates and times can be blocked out according to your needs. Images, patient history, and treatment options are available with a click of the mouse.

Charts are provided in a clear user interface with realistic tooth modeling and color coding for treatments so its easy for all staff to follow. Imaging is an integrated feature of the software, and it's easy to manipulate these to examine them better. You can also set up preferred manipulations and and filters by default, making it easier to get at the information you want more quickly. Measurement tools also work easily and seamlessly with your images, which are saved and synced in the cloud.

The billing feature is set up to simply payments and adjustments, and provide patients with easy to follow statements. Recall and insurance management are built in to make reimbursements easy to manage, with payments automatically applied to the insurance portion or the patient portion of the treatment record.

There are four main plans available, most of which cover the same features, with the main variation being access to automated reminders, custom forms, and native imaging. However, for pricing you will need to contact Curve Dental directly. Be aware that there may be set-up and training fees on top of any monthly payments.

(Image credit: Dental Intelligence)

4. Dental Intelligence

Intelligent productivity management

Automated tasks
Team analytics
Ready reports
Streamlined workflows

Dental Intelligence isn't so much a practice management platform as much as a productivity suite that integrates with one, to provide auto-generated reports and analytics. The aim is to make it simpler and easier to manage your practice efficiency and make it more profitable. It's a cloud-based solution that runs from a mobile app, making it easy to access from anywhere, whether in the office or on the go.

Each morning the software provides a review or performance the previous day, and a plan of action for each team member for the day based on set goals and KPIs. It also autogenerates call lists for appointment confirmations, hygiene recare, unscheduled treatments, and collections, to ensure that unscheduled appointments are never missed and which due payments need to be chased up.

Dental Intelligence also provides a smart caller ID to work with your phone system, so that when a patient calls from a number on their records, a pop up will appear providing basic information on the patient's last visit date, along with information on due appointments or payments. There'a also a smart scheduling feature that aims to fill empty slots with due appointments and keep track of outstanding invoices. It can also compare the performance of different team members for training and development purposes.

No pricing information is provided, but potential customers are invited to try a free demo first before contacting sales for a price.

(Image credit: Open Dental)

5. Open Dental

The open source dental suite

Flexible and customizable
Range of key features 
Well supported
Convoluted fee structure

Open Dental is an open source practice management software suite for dental practices of all sizes. The fact that the software is open sourced means that it can be easily customized to fit any needs or demands of an individual practice and the platform has a well-supported community. The software is also cloud-based so you can run it through a web app on desktop or mobile device.

Open Dental comes with a number of features, not least graphical charts and reports, prescriptions, and discount plans. There is also an eServices bundle to provide a patient portal that comes with online web forms, integrated email and texting, scheduling, reminders, and confirmations. There are also a number of program bridges, especially to cater for imaging software and importing the data, as well as clearinghouses and third-party applications to provide additional services, not least for productivity and workflow management.

Although the Open Dental software is open source, it is not free. There's a fee structure for use of the software, to receive updates, and receive support. However, rather than a simple fee rate or tiers, there'a s basic level of fees plus a number of additional fees according to the number of users and features used, then discounts applied according to practice size which means it may not be clear what actual costs will initially be.