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Ten Dental Practice Management Software Systems Reviewed

There are literally dozens of dental practice management software systems out there. But which ones are really worth your money, and how do they compare with one another? In this post we will review ten of the top dental practice management software services.

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To help you answer these important questions, we put together this exhaustive, unbiased list of the best and most popular dental practice management software suites out there. We’ve skipped over the total duds to save you time and reached out to the different software providers to get more elaboration on the fine details so you don’t have to.

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A note about dental practice management software features

Not every feature of each piece of software will be important or necessary for your practice. While we give a thorough list of features, be sure to do your research so you can determine your most important criteria.

However, some key things to look for in general are HIPAA compliance, good customer support, and a free demo so you can check it out before you buy. Most dental PM software will have features like billing, scheduling, charting, and electronic dental health records. Some software will also have digital imaging, or will integrate with other dental imaging programs.

Another important thing to pay attention to is whether the software is cloud-based (accessed via the internet) or proprietary (installed on your own on-premise server). With cloud software services, there is usually less of a commitment or investment required, as they are typically billed on a month-to-month subscription basis.

1. Curve Dental

Overview:
Curve Dental is a fully cloud-based dental practice management software system, with all of the essential features you’d want in a PM software package, from scheduling and reporting to charting and imaging. Reviewers of the software service praise the responsive customer service and intuitive interface. The ability to use the service on any operating system or browser.

  • Service model: Cloud-based
  • Hardware/operating system requirements: 
    Any web browser (OS agnostic)
  • Price: Subscription-based pricing is customized for each practice (Request a quote).
  • Free demo: Yes
  • HIPAA compliant: Yes
  • Support: Free 24/7 technical support. Customer service is touted as friendly and responsive and is provided via email, phone, and integrated messaging.
  • Training: Provided over the internet and the phone (no in-person training), also via online demos and webinars.

Key features:

  • Billing capabilities
  • Scheduling
  • Reporting
  • Credit card processing
  • Insurance management
  • Mobile computing
  • Online patient portal
  • Dental charting
  • Digital imaging
  • Patient communication
  • Perio charting
  • Clinical notes
  • Data backup

The Takeaway

Curve Dental is an excellent cloud-based dental practice management software solution, with a number of easy-to-use features, responsive customer support, an informative website, and a sense of humor to boot. They are very upfront about what you get and allow you to pay as you go. In addition to all the traditional dental PM features, you get cloud-based data backup and mobile access as well. One of the only possible downsides we could find is the lack of in-person training.

2. Dentrix (by Henry Schein)

Overview:
Dentrix prides itself on being the most popular dental PM software company in North America. Certainly, Dentrix is a trusted name in dental practice management technology. Dentrix was founded in 1985, and while they were acquired by Henry Schein in 1997, many of the original founders are still with the company. Though Dentrix is among the more expensive solutions, it has one of the largest feature sets. As a result, there is a steep learning curve. Dentrix is an on-premise solution that will be built specifically for your dental practice.

  • Service model: Proprietary (installed on-premise) with integrated mobile option
  • Hardware/OS requirements: Windows-only. See system requirements. (You will need a dedicated server to run Dentrix.)
  • Free demo: Yes
  • HIPAA compliant: Yes
  • Support: Phone, email, and online chat support. However, if you don’t pay for their Customer Service Plan, you’ll be charged per support incident.

Key features:

  • Appointment management
  • Calendar management
  • Claims management
  • Clinical charting
  • Patient communication
  • Billing and collections
  • Digital imaging
  • Calls to action
  • The Takeaway

    Dentrix is the most popular dental practice management software. If you want a traditional dental PM software and do not require the flexibility of a cloud-based service, Dentrix is a solid, fully fledged PM option that has withstood the test of time — they've been around for 30 years. It will be a major investment in terms of both money and the time required to learn it, but you know you will receive a trusted, quality product for your money.

    3. Dentrix Ascend (by Henry Schein)

    Overview:
    A newer dental PM service introduced in 2013, Dentrix Ascend is a fully cloud-based Dentrix offering. However, Ascend is more than just “Dentrix on the web,” as it has an entirely new workflow and interface. Note that it is a separate product and is not compatible with traditional Dentrix.

    • Service model: Cloud-based
    • Hardware/OS requirements: Google Chrome on any operating system or Safari on the iPad.
    • Price: Customized (request a quote). Dentrix is available as a scaleable pay-as-you-go subscription, making it a viable option for both small practices and large, multi-location practices.
    • Free demo: Yes
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: In regard to training, Dentrix Ascend says the following:
      Dentrix Ascend naturally guides a user through the system to quickly understand and complete job duties to save your staff training and management time.
    • Support: Dentrix Ascend has a support email address and phone number. When we emailed the support address, we received a prompt reply letting us know that someone from sales would soon contact us and that a support ticket had been created. As of a few days later, no one had responded to our original question (which was, ironically, about the quality of support). We assume they’ll eventually respond but one could conclude that with a large organization like Dentrix, it might be difficult to build a familiar relationship with any support staff.
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    Key features:

    • Scheduling
    • Patient profiles
    • Dental charting
    • Perio charting
    • Drag-and-drop treatment planner
    • Ledger
    • eClaims
    • Document manager
    • Kiosk
    • “Natural User Interface” (NUI)
    • Multi-location support
    • Insurance management

    The Takeaway

    Dentrix Ascend is a cloud-based alternative to regular Dentrix. Being cloud-based, it is more scaleable and cost-effective than traditional Dentrix. It includes all of the essential features you need for dental practice management and also introduces a new streamlined workflow and a simplified user interface. As a result, you have a product that’s easier to learn, and with no expensive servers to maintain, it’s easier on the wallet as well. However, while you also get the trusted reputation that comes with the Dentrix name, a large company like this can feel less personal (and in our case, less responsive) compared to a smaller provider like Curve Dental.

    4. Total Dental

    Overview:
    Total Dental is an all-in-one practice management and electronic health records (EHR) solution. While not a “big name” in dental PM software, Total Dental is a quality, fully cloud-based dental PM solution that provides all the essential practice management features, and then some! It’s also a more affordable option suitable for small practices.

    • Service model: Cloud-based
    • Hardware/OS requirements: Access from any secure internet connection.
    • Price: Standard EHR package starts at $199 per dentist user per month and comes with two free support user licenses.
    • Free demo: Yes
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: Free training provided via documentation, webinars, and live online training.
    • Support: Free telephone and email support.

    Key features:

    • Electronic dental health records
    • Dental charting
    • Perio charting
    • Billing
    • Meaningful Use monitoring
    • Real-time backups
    • eRX (ePrescribing)
    • Accounting integration
    • Accounts receivable
    • Appointment management
    • Calendar management
    • Claims management
    • Clinical charting
    • Digital imaging
    • Patient payment history
    • Reminders
    • Treatment planning

    The Takeaway

    You get a lot for your dollar with this cloud-based dental PM and EHR software system, and the impressive backgrounds of the company executives let you know there is significant industry expertise backing this product. You can learn more about Total Dental in this video and try out a live demo if they sound like a good bet to you.

    5. Denticon (by Planet DDS)

    Overview:
    Denticon is another cloud-based dental PM software with a software as a service (SaaS) model. Parent company Planet DDS advertises Denticon as being affordable and suitable for both single- and multi-location practices. Denticon offers three different levels of service, including, notably, a completely free option that has most of the features you get with the paid plans (minus charting and imaging).

    • Service model: Cloud-based
    • Hardware/OS requirements: Access from any secure internet connection.
    • Price: There are three different plans: Free, Standard, and Premium. The Standard plan is $195/month and the Premium plan is $275/month. If you have more than 5 users, the cost is $50/user.
    • Free demo: Yes
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: Four hours of online training per location are provided at no cost. Additional training is $50/hour. On-site training is available — although Denticon says it is “probably unnecessary” — at a cost of $400/day plus travel expenses.
    • Support: Denticon’s online support portal is free for all users. For paid subscriptions, you also get up to 4 hours of free telephone support per location, per month. Additional support is $50 per hour, although they are willing customize a support plan to your needs. Customer service representatives are available via their 800 number during business hours, and IT network support is 24/7.

    Key features:
    A full breakdown of features included in each type of plan can be found here.

    Here are the main features you get with the paid plans:

    • Patient communication
    • Charting
    • Time clock
    • Document scanning
    • Dentiray image management
    • Patient health records (EHR-certified)
    • Billing management

    The Takeaway

    Denticon is a comprehensive online dental PM solution with lots of useful features. The free plan might be a good way to test the software out and see if it will work for your practice. Some Denticon reviews say the software has a steep learning curve, however. While free live support is limited, as is live training, their online portal has some helpful resources.

    6. Dovetail

    Overview:
    Dovetail is a complete, cloud-based practice management and dental health record solution designed primarily for tablet use (though it works on any device). The software is sleek and simple and allows your single- or multi-location dental practice to go completely paperless. You can even use it to process payments from a tablet or another mobile device. Reviewers confirm that the software is very easy to use.

    • Service model: Cloud-based
    • Hardware/OS requirements: Accessible via any browser/device.
    • Price: Three-tiered pricing plan includes Clinical ($59/user/month), Practice ($79/user/month) and Enterprise ($395/clinic/month). See Dovetail’s mobile payment processing rates here.
    • Free demo: Yes
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: You will have to reach out to Dovetail to obtain training resources, as they are not available on their website. That being said, with Dovetail being so easy to use, extensive training is probably not required.
    • Support: Available via email, telephone or live chat. However, support is described by some reviewers as being somewhat slow to respond. We also found this to be the case when we reached out to Dovetail via email.

    Key Features:

    • Patient dental records
    • Treatment plans
    • Progress notes
    • Intelligent scheduling
    • Billing features
    • Meaningful Use functionalities
    • Team management tools
    • e-Insurance claims
    • Advanced file-sharing capabilities via Dovetail Connect
    • Mobile payments (available at Practice and Enterprise levels)

    Dovetail does not have digital imaging (though it integrates with imaging systems).

    The Takeaway

    Dovetail is one of the most state-of-the-art dental PM software services out there. This service would be a good choice for a high-tech, modern dental practice that wants to go completely paperless — or even completely mobile. Essentially, it allows you to run your entire practice from your iPad. They also take online security very seriously. Ideally, we would like to see the company offer better support channels, particularly when mobile payments are involved.

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    7. Dentisoft

    Overview:
    Dentisoft is cloud-based dental office management software with an intuitive web-based interface that works on any device. Following the SaaS trend for dental management software, web-based Dentisoft is offered via a monthly subscription, which is less costly than PC-based systems. Additionally, unlike many systems that charge for each user, with Dentisoft you get unlimited access for one flat price. Like Denticon, they also offer a free starter plan.

    • Service model: Cloud-based
    • Hardware/OS requirements: Accessible via any browser/device.
    • Price: In addition to the free Cloud Starter package, Dentisoft has a Cloud Pro package for $249/month. New practices can sign up to the Cloud Pro for only $50/month (unlimited users, up to 250 patients).
    • Free demo: Yes
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: Training is included in the $249/month cost. The website did not mention how the training was delivered, so we reached out to Dentisoft to ask. They responded promptly, and here was their answer:
      We include web based training - Basically, an online meeting
    • Support: With the Cloud Pro package, unlimited support is available via email, telephone or live chat. They also have a comprehensive online support portal. When we emailed them with a question, they responded promptly (within 24 hours).

    Key Features:
    Find a full list of features offered in each package here.

    • Patient marketing tools
    • Appointment book
    • Online patient forms
    • Facebook integration
    • Mobile suite access
    • Secure messaging & reminders
    • Clinical e-Records
    • Treatment planning and handouts
    • Unlimited image/PDF storage
    • Radiography integration to most sensors
    • Integration with TigerView Cloud
    • Mailing list generation
    • e-Birthday messages/recalls/appointment reminders
    • Postcards for recalls and appointments
    • Insurance/payer management
    • Paper or e-Billing statements
    • Claim forms
    • Recall management
    • Over 250 reports
    • Data export to Excel/Word/PDF

    The Takeaway

    With unlimited users and loads of handy features, Dentisoft is a cost-effective and comprehensive web-based dental PM software solution for multi-user dental practices. They also offer multiple support channels and cool added features like Facebook integration and some marketing features. If the $249/month price tag is doable for you, this dental PM software should definitely be on your list of practice management software systems to consider.

    8. Easy Dental (by Henry Schein)

    Overview:
    Easy Dental is a straightforward, proprietary dental PM software product. While you will need to host this on-premise software on your own equipment, it includes some web features, like online payments and online data backups. Easy Dental also features credit card processing services. It is one of the more commonly used dental PM software suites — according to their website, more than 20,000 practices use it.

    • Service-model: Proprietary
    • Hardware/OS requirements: Windows-only. Find the hardware specifications here.
    • Free demo: Yes. They also have multiple video tutorials showing the various aspects of their service in action.
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: Training modules include in-office training, training workshops, documentation, and an online resource center, which will be included in your total price.
    • Support: Although they have multiple accessible support channels, you’ll have to pay extra for premium support.

    Key Features:

    • Perio charts
    • Clinical charting
    • Patient records
    • Patient billing
    • Scheduling
    • Treatment plans
    • Reports
    • Recall appointments
    • Electronic insurance claims and attachments
    • QuickBill statements
    • Online data backup
    • Integrated PowerPay LE credit and debit card processing

    The Takeaway

    Like most Henry Schein software, Easy Dental is a quality proprietary program that will represent a significant investment of time and money. It also has many of the limitations of a traditional software (must be run on Windows, etc.). However, it also has some useful online features like online data backup. The software appears similar to Dentrix in many ways, but it is advertised as being “easy to use,” so presumably the learning curve is not quite as steep as that for Dentrix.

    9. Axex Dental

    Overview:
    Axex Dental is a hybrid dental PM software system with a slightly different model than the others reviewed here. With Axex Dental, you purchase a dedicated server with the software installed, but once you have the system set up, you can access it from any internet-connected device. So, it is essentially a hybrid cloud/on-premise solution. Axex has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface and includes all the typical features you’d expect, plus some neat extras, like the ability to show patients their X-rays on an iPad.

    • Service model: Hybrid (1-year agreement with server, plus monthly fee)
    • Hardware/OS requirements: None! You simply use a pre-installed Axex server and then access your software and data from any device/browser you like.
    • Price: $200/per month, plus $3333.00 down for server with 1-year agreement.

    They’ll also convert your old software data for you for a one-time fee that will range from $800 to $1200 depending on your old system.

    We asked Axex for further elaboration on pricing (specifically, whether the $3333 for the server is a one-time payment) and here was their response:

    The $3333 down is one time. $200/month is for maintenance and your 24/7 tech support, replacement of server if need be. Also, we will offer the pricing option to pay $475 per month for 12 months then have price lowered to $200 per month rather than pay the large lump sum of $3333 down.

    • Free demo: Yes
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: Here’s what an Axex support representative let us know when we accessed the live chat feature to ask about training.

    We educate via tutorials online. Actually, I am in the middle of doing a tutorial video on Accounts right as you LiveChatted in! All of our training will be available on youtube video tutorials, gotomeeting.com, email, and calls.

    We are in the process of overhauling our website to a CMS site and should be releasing it in the next few weeks. It will have links to all of the tutorials plus blogs, forums, etc.

    • Support: Axex features 24/7 tech support (via live chat, email, phone) and free overnight replacement of your server, should anything go wrong with it.

    We should note that while live chat support was great, we turned to this option only after we reached out to the company via email and they still hadn’t responded after several days.

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    Key features:

    • FastCHART procedure charting system
    • Appointments
    • Reporting
    • e-Claims
    • Accounting features — including ability to accept card payments from any device
    • Electronic statements
    • X-rays
    • Patient medical history
    • Treatment plans

    The Takeaway

    Axex Dental is advertised as a “complete turnkey solution” that “only takes minutes” for users to learn. Additionally, they offer the benefits of both cloud and on-premise software — for instance, you can still use the software even if your internet goes down. They are initially pricier than most cloud-based options, but considering that you also get your own dedicated server, you actually could save money with Axex vs. some on-premise software suites, without missing out on web-based features. Email support isn’t as quick as we would like, but their live chat support is quite responsive, and it sounds like with the overhaul of their website, online training resources will be available.

    dental practice management software

    10. Datacon

    Overview:
    Datacon is another hybrid dental PM solution that combines an on-premise server with online data storage and mobile connectivity. Datacon offers a complete suite of features, and works with both Macs and PCs — even both at the same time. Datacon has some useful paperless office features and will also integrate with just about any dental software program.

    • Service model: Hybrid
    • Hardware/OS requirements: Installs on a Mac server, but can be accessed on Windows PCs or Macs (or a combination of both), as well as mobile devices. Find more info on the system requirements here.
    • Price: Datacon’s website doesn’t mention pricing, so we reached out to them to find out a little more. Stacey Byrne from Datacon let us know the following:

    We price our software based on the number of connected workstations.
    This provides the opportunity for a new dentist or small practice to enjoy all of the features utilized by our larger multi-location practices.

    The current pricing structure is as follows:

    First three workstations $500.00/each

    Workstations 4-6 $425.00/each

    Workstations 7-9 $350.00/each

    Workstations 10 or more $275.00/each

    The software is server based (your own private cloud) and the server software runs on a Macintosh which can be purchased from Apple for as little as $499.
    There is also a (required) Monthly Software Support subscription of $150.00/month per database.

    • Free demo: Yes
    • HIPAA compliant: Yes
    • Training: Here’s what Datacon says about training:

    To provide an added value, we are now including 45 minutes of telephone/highspeed Internet training per quarter. This training does not accrue and expires at the end of each quarter. We will post a maximum of one credit for training per quarter for training included with support. Additional training may be purchased as needed.

    • Support: Telephone support during business hours, plus email support. When we reached out to them via email, they responded quickly (within 24 hours). Find their full support policy here.

    Key features:

    • Paperless charting and other paperless office features
    • Patient folders
    • X-ray integration
    • Seamless integration with all major dental software products (see list of supported integrations here)
    • Billing features
    • Patient scheduling

    The Takeaway

    Datacon is an advanced, all-in-one dental practice management software that provides the advantages of both on-premise and cloud-based services. Once you learn it, it is easy to use and integrates well with other dental software. Datacon is also a good option for a mixed-computer practice or one that wants some mobile/paperless features. It is also a scalable solution that will work well for both small practices and large practices with multiple locations.

    What is the Best Practice Management Software for Dentists?

    With this graphic, you can see at-a-glance the essential information about each of these software services.

    After reading the blog post, this chart should help you determine the best patient management software.

    Sofware

    Service model

    Operating system

    Price

    How easy to learn

    Curve Dental

    Cloud

    Any

    $$

    Medium-easy

    Dentrix

    Proprietary

    Windows

    $$$

    Medium-difficult

    Dentrix Ascend

    Cloud

    Any (optimized for Chrome and Safari)

    $$

    Medium

    Total Dental

    Cloud

    Any

    $

    Medium

    Denticon

    Cloud

    Any

    $

    Medium

    Dovetail

    Cloud

    Any

    $$

    Easy

    Dentisoft

    Cloud

    Any

    $

    Medium

    Easy Dental

    Proprietary

    Windows

    $$$

    Medium

    Axex Dental

    Hybrid

    Any

    $$

    Medium-easy

    Datacon

    Hybrid

    Windows or Mac

    $$

    Medium-difficult

    Some other solutions to consider

    The following dental PM software providers didn’t quite make the cut for our Top 10 list, but you might consider one of these specialty solutions if you specifically use Macs, want to try an open-source dental software solution, etc.

    axiUm (by Henry Schein) — Proprietary software (with some online features) for large, multi-location practices

    Viive (by Henry Schein) — Proprietary software (with some online features) specifically for Mac

    Yapi — Paperless, mobile dental PM software, comparable to Dovetail

    Eaglesoft (by Patterson) — Proprietary software (with some online features), with focus on personalization

    Open Dental — Open-source dental practice management software


    Final thoughts about Dental Software

    Most dental practices use some sort of dental practice management software, but few are taking full advantage of the advanced capabilities that exist with today’s technology. If you’re not fully happy with your dental PM software, check out some of the demos of the software systems on our list and they might just work better.

    For more advice on issues involved with running a dental practice, be sure to stay tuned to our blog. You can also consult this "Inside Dentistry" article for further guidance on choosing your dental practice management software.

    About the Author

    Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenues goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and a passionate bodybuilder.

    Leave a Reply 6 comments

    robert Jacobson - December 5, 2016 Reply

    Hey Mr Downs .Dr J here, I really enjoyed the blog. Question . are there any Dental software management programs that do not have a monthly fee attached to the service .In other words .Pay a one time fee for the software

    travis adragna - January 31, 2017 Reply

    Hi Dr. J.

    Yes there are dental software programs out there that do not charge monthly. Try iDentalSoft Inc., they are cloud based with an annual fee. iDentalSoft was not listed above but it probably didn’t pay to be here. Good luck, here is there website… http://www.identalsoft.com

    t

    Tyson Downs - February 8, 2017 Reply

    Not to my knowledge, but perhaps others can chime in.

    Tyson Downs - February 14, 2017 Reply

    Actually Travis, no company paid to be in this list.

    Angelo - March 8, 2017 Reply

    Only having to pay a one-time fee for dental software would be great, but I find that the recurring monthly fees are usually to pay for a crucial feature like support, online appointments or server rentals. I found a software that includes all of this plus software updates, IT management and data backups for a reasonable monthly cost (which is usually the same as most software’s ongoing costs). Plus there aren’t even lock-in contracts or up-front fees. Have a look for yourself at https://www.corepractice.com.au/

    Tyson Downs - March 14, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the contribution Angelo.

    Leave a Reply:







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