A dentist sits next to a patient and shows her something on a digital imaging monitor. The dentist is wearing glasses, a dark blue polo shirt, and white latex gloves. With his right hand, he uses a stylus to point to something on the screen of a white digital imaging monitor. The patient is a young woman with long black hair. She sits in the dental chair and wears a white paper bib over her clothes.
Some dental practice management software includes or integrates with built-in digital imaging technology that allows dentists to take and review patient X-rays. — Getty Images/Tom Werner

Dentistry is a resilient industry, yet dental offices face challenges like any other company. Aside from seeing patients, dental practices must manage patient treatments, scheduling, and billing. Then there's the business side, which involves financial management, marketing, and human resources.

Fortunately, dental software solutions streamline these tasks. But what systems does a new dentist need, and how much does dental practice management software cost? Explore all the tools you can implement to run your dental office efficiently.

What is dental practice software?

Dental software covers several technology solutions, like electronic health records (EHR), electronic medical records (EMR), and electronic dental records (EDR). Generally, the software falls into four categories: patient engagement, imaging, clinical, and administrative. Modern dental practice management software has clinical and managerial capabilities, allowing dentists to manage patient information, billing, and reporting from a single system.

On the other hand, dental radiography sensor manufacturers typically provide digital imaging software. Therefore, dentists use the same vendor for their equipment and management tools. Some practice management tools can integrate with well-known imaging solutions; others, like Curve Dental, have built-in imaging software and sync with many imaging tools.

Patient engagement platforms offer a portal where clients can request prescription refills, schedule appointments, review billing statements, and update contact information. Many also integrate with dental practice management solutions.

[Read more: 7 Great Tools for Customer Appointment Scheduling]

How much does dental management software cost?

Cloud-based dental practice management applications generally cost over $100 monthly. These all-in-one solutions combine several tools into one system, eliminating the need for multiple apps. Most vendors provide custom quotes and don’t provide prices online. Some charge implementation fees. A few offer reduced rates for new dentists.

Alternatively, on-site software has a substantial upfront cost, starting at over $1,000. In addition, dentists may need to upgrade their existing hardware and storage devices to support the practice management system.

Benefits of software for dental offices

Dental software can automate many administrative processes, allowing dentists to see more patients and increase practice revenue. By centralizing various patient records, billing, and scheduling, dental teams spend less time switching between applications and more time doing their job. Indeed, ditching the paper calendar for a digital appointment system can prevent missed appointments and double bookings.

The main advantages of dental management software include:

  • Increasing patient record organization and security: With appropriate access permissions and login policies, dental businesses can ensure that only staff with the proper authority can access patient records. The information remains safe in the cloud and is accessible, even if your office is not.
  • Simplifying practice administration: By automating routine tasks and reducing manual data entry, dental practices can streamline processes and boost productivity. Business owners can run reports to see invoices, reminders, or claims status.
  • Improving patient experience and satisfaction: Patient portals, better communication, and fewer mistakes enhance patient care. They're more likely to trust a dentist who can find their results quickly, e-prescribe medications, and communicate through their preferred channels.
  • Boosting revenue: The combination of productivity and customer experience improvements helps your bottom line. Moreover, many practice management solutions offer reporting and analytics features, which let you see where you could save or earn more money.

Many systems integrate with your calendar and offer patient portals, allowing clients to book appointments online.

Dental practice management software

Dental management systems are all-in-one solutions for handling clinical and administrative needs. It allows dentistry practices to develop treatment plans, store patient records, and manage core tasks like scheduling and appointment reminders. It will either include medical billing tools or integrate with your financial software and connect to electronic claims platforms so dentists can submit and track insurance claims.

Many also support dental history charting and have employee communication tools. Today, dental practices choose cloud-based programs, which let dentists and administrative assistants access data securely from internet-connected devices.

Standard dental practice management software features include:

  • Clinical documentation: Built-in EDR/EHR tools let dentists and assistants take digital notes and store them securely in the cloud.
  • Appointment scheduling: Many systems integrate with your calendar and offer patient portals, allowing clients to book appointments online. These tools may provide patient registration forms and other electronic onboarding materials.
  • Billing: Online invoicing and claim submission features can automate back-office tasks.
  • Staff scheduling: Native scheduling features keep track of paid time off (PTO) and office closures to cover all shifts.
  • Customer service: Practice management software offers chat, phone, and email support to assist dental practices with technical errors.
  • Security tools: Dentists and their software must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Therefore, management software provides strict security features to protect data privacy.

[Read more: How to Protect Your Business From Being Hacked]

Electronic health record (EHR) system

Large organizations often use standalone EHR, EMR, or EDR systems. However, some research studies found that small dentist offices find EHRs burdensome, and overall EDR adoption rates remain low in the United States. Many dentists prefer to work in one system since dental practice management software solutions support patient recordkeeping.

Digital imaging solutions

Dental imaging software allows dental practitioners and assistants to take and store dental X-rays. These systems integrate with imaging technologies, cameras, and dental practice management platforms. Dental assistants and dentists use devices to photograph patient's mouths.

With built-in sequences, most systems allow practitioners or assistants to complete X-ray procedures in a few clicks. The information instantly transfers to the dental imaging software. Dentists can retrieve, print, or share stored images with patients and carriers.

Patient communication and engagement solutions

Patient engagement and communication software strengthens relationships with your clients. It offers many features and tools to improve the patient experience and their health, from personalized information that encourages clients to learn about their treatment plan to screen pops that display caller information so your receptionist can greet callers as valued clients. Many patient engagement systems, including RevenueWell, help dentists generate feedback, manage their business reputation, and send automated birthday and holiday greetings.

Patient engagement software may include the following features:

  • A patient portal.
  • Outreach or marketing tools.
  • Reputation management and feedback generation.
  • Patient education modules.
  • Appointment reminders.
  • Self-care management modules.
  • HIPAA-compliant messaging or voice software.

[Read more: How to Grow Sales Through Customer Engagement]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

A message from
A $50K grand prize could be all yours.
The FedEx® Small Business Grants Program is now open. See details and apply before April 1, 2024, at 12 p.m. CT.
Apply Now!