Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Customizing Procedure Codes to Fit Your Office Needs

Dentrix comes already set up with the American Dental Association codes, but did you know you can customize the codes to make them work better for your office? Here are some of the things I like to customize in the Procedure Code Setup in the Office Manager.

In the Office Manager, go to Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup. Select an individual procedure code, and click Edit.

Then look for the following areas you can customize:

Patient Friendly Description

Patient friendly procedure descriptions can be displayed on treatment plans. They can be a good way to communicate an easy to understand description of a dental procedure.  You may want to edit the verbiage of those descriptions to match the way your office describes procedures. 

Abbreviated Description

The abbreviated description of an ADA code is how the code will be displayed on the patient’s appointment. In my experience, the simpler these are, the better. For example, for a one surface composite filling, an abbreviated description could be 1surcomp. This makes it clear to the entire team exactly what the patient’s appointment is scheduled for. 

Treatment Flags - Difficult Procedure

You have the option to flag a procedure code as a difficult procedure. This can be useful if in the evening your office wants to call all patients who had a difficult procedure done that day. Procedures flagged as difficult will be indicated by an asterisk on the Day Sheet. Since the Day Sheet also has patient phone numbers on it, this can be a convenient tool to call patients.

Treatment Flags - Remove Tooth

By checking this option, the tooth will be removed from the graphic Chart whenever this procedure code is set complete.

Treatment Flags - Show in Chart

This flag allows the procedure code to be accessed from the Chart. If you have confusion from any team members on exactly which code to use for a procedure, it may be helpful to uncheck the Show in Chart option for those procedure codes. That way, the code will not be available from the Chart, so it is less likely the incorrect code will accidentally be used. 

Procedure Time

You can indicate the default appointment time for a procedure. You can also allow for chair time, assistant time and provider time. This is important because a provider (doctor or hygienist) can’t be scheduled for provider time during more than two appointments at the same time. I find this to be an issue when offices are scheduling their doctor in three or four rooms at a time, but it’s an easy problem to correct by changing the provider time to either assistant or chair time. 

Additional Options

You also have options to flag a procedure code for medical cross coding, mark the procedure as do not bill to dental insurance, require start and completion dates for the procedure (great for crowns and bridges) and my personal favorite, setting the do not update patient visit dates option. The reason I like this option so much is that the patient’s last visit date is very important in Dentrix. It is how Dentrix calculates your office’s active patient number. Some procedure codes should not update the patient’s last visit date. For example, if you use a code for a missed appointment, the patient’s last visit date should not be affected when charging this code. 

I really like these features in the Procedure Code Setup in the Office Manager because you have the option to customize settings so that the codes can work best for your office. If you have questions about this or other topics, please e-mail me at

Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at

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