Stay on Top of Your Clinical Notes

Use Dentrix clinical note templates to simplify record keeping and save time.

Updated 1/13/21

Do you love software shortcuts that simplify your routine tasks? If you do, this article is for you. Dentrix clinical note templates can save you time and simplify the work needed to record clinical notes for your patients. What’s more, you can easily customize this feature to quickly access and insert the clinical note phrases you use most often.

For example, how many times a week do your hygienists record something like the following in your patients’ clinical notes: “Performed general scaling with hand instruments. Flossed all contacts.” With Dentrix clinical note templates, you can easily insert standard phrases such as this with just a few mouse clicks.

And here’s an added benefit: inserting pre-written notes instead of typing them each time ensures consistent phrasing and prevents typing errors. It also eliminates the necessity to abbreviate phrases and dental terms for faster note taking. Often, we encounter clinicians whose notes have become very abbreviated over time. With clinical note templates, you can maintain a comprehensive, detailed clinical record with a couple clicks of the mouse.

Of course, not all clinical notes are as simple as a standard phrase. Some require specific information, such as a tooth number, surface, or treatment plan, as in the following: “The distolingual surface of the crown on tooth 15 is fractured. Patient has agreed to a crown to repair the tooth.”

This isn’t a problem for Dentrix. Many of the clinical note templates include note prompts where you can select or specify the variable information, such as tooth surface, before the clinical note is created.

Dentrix provides 70 default clinical note templates that are ready for you to use. These templates are organized into 17 categories, such as Administrative, Anesthetics, Clinical Exams, and so forth. You can also set up your own clinical note templates for the notes you create the most.

Using the Default Clinical Note Templates

To use a clinical note template, begin with a patient selected in the Patient Chart. In the bottom left of the Patient Chart, click the Clinical Notes tab. Click the category containing the clinical note you want to use, such as Administrative, and then double-click the desired clinical note, such as Return Appointment. If the template includes prompts, select the desired option(s) from each prompt. When finished, the clinical note text is added to the patient’s record with the current date and time.

If you haven’t used the Dentrix clinical note templates, take a few minutes to explore the 70 default templates that Dentrix provides. You may not end up using all of them, but chances are you’ll find some that are useful to you.

Creating a Favorites Category

You may be wondering if having 70 templates in 17 categories will make it difficult for you to access your favorite templates quickly. After all, the whole point of using templates is to save you time. Consider creating a “Favorites” category at the top of the categories list and move a handful of the templates you use most frequently into that category. Keep in mind, however, that any changes you make will affect other Dentrix users in your office. It’s a good idea to meet with other employees first to discuss your proposed changes before making them.

To create a Favorites category, click the Template Setup icon on the Clinical Notes toolbar. In the Template Setup dialog box, click Category Setup. In the Category Setup dialog box, click New Category. Type Favorites, and then click Move Up until the new Favorites category is at the top of the list. Then click Close.

Now select a favorite template you will use on a regular basis (such as Return Appointment in the Administrative category) and drag it to the Favorites category. Move any other templates you’ll use regularly into the Favorites category. When finished, click Close.

Creating New Clinical Note Templates

You’re not limited to the 70 default templates that Dentrix provides. If you find yourself typing certain phrases repeatedly, create your own templates to insert those phrases, and create your own categories to organize them in. You may want to keep some of your note phrases short and use them as building blocks in your clinical notes. For example, you could create a template to insert the phrase “Risks, benefits, and alternatives were discussed,” and include the phrase in various treatment plan notes.

To create a new template, from the Template Setup dialog box, click New Template to display the New Clinical Note Template dialog box. In the Category field, select the category you want your new template to be created in, such as Favorites or Treatment. In the Template Name field, type a name for your template, such as “Risks discussed.” Under Clinical Note Text, type the text for the template, such as “Risks, benefits, and alternatives were discussed.” Click OK.

Using Prompts in Clinical Note Templates

You can also create custom templates that include your own custom prompts. For example, you could create a template to insert any patient advice given to the patient during the exam, such as “brush and floss regularly” and “use only a soft toothbrush”.

To create a template that uses this type of prompt, from the Template Setup dialog box, click New Template to display the New Clinical Note Template dialog box. In the Category field, select the category you want your new template to be created in, such as Favorites. In the Template Name field, type a name for your template, such as “Patient Advice.” Under Clinical Note Text, type “Patient was advised to ”. Make sure you leave one space after the word “to” so that when you insert the prompt, the words will have a space between them.

Now click under Clinical Note Prompts and type “Patient advice”. Click Select/Setup and then click New. Set up your prompt as shown below. Under Enter the list of checkbox items, you can customize the list to include as many items as you want in the list, in any order. (If the list gets long, a vertical scroll bar will be added to the prompt when you use the template.) Include one item per line. Because these will be inserted at the end of a sentence, make sure to begin each item with a lowercase letter.

When finished, click OK twice. With your insertion point at the end of the Clinical Note Text you typed earlier (“Patient was advised to ”), select Patient advice under Clinical Note Prompts and click Insert Prompt in Text. Type a period (.) after the prompt ~Patient advice~ so the dialog box appears as shown below. Click OK and then Close.

To use the new template, double-click Patient Advice in the Favorites category. Select the options you want included in the clinical note, such as “brush and floss regularly” and “use only a soft toothbrush.” Click OK. The following clinical note is inserted: “Patient was advised to brush and floss regularly and use only a soft toothbrush.”

After you create one or two of these templates and begin using them, you’ll discover what a time saver clinical note templates can be in your practice. Before long, you will find yourself creating and using dozens of these time-saving templates to help you enter your clinical notes.

Learn More

To learn more about the default clinical note templates, see the Default Clinical Note Templates topic in Dentrix Help.

For more ideas about using clinical notes, read Clinical Notes Made Easy and Making Changes to Clinical Notes.

Visit for ideas about how to improve clinical efficiency with Dentrix.

By Roger Gagon, Senior Editor

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Fall 2014