Best Dental Software 2021

Dentrix vs. Open Dental: Compare Dental Practice Management Software

Is Dentrix or Open Dental the better solution for you? Learn the benefits and disadvantages of Dentrix Ascend, Dentrix G7, and Open Dental, and decide which practice management software is best for you.

Is Dentrix or Open Dental the better solution for you? Learn the benefits and disadvantages of Dentrix Ascend, Dentrix G7, and Open Dental, and decide which practice management software is best for you.

Dentrix vs. Open Dental Comparison Summary

Dentrix Ascend, Dentrix G7, and Open Dental are three popular choices for dental practice management software. Dentists we speak to often ask about how to compare Dentrix vs. Open Dental. Here is an overview of the best practice management software for different types of practices.

Practice Management SoftwareWho It's Best For
Dentrix Ascend
  • Practices with multiple locations who want to move to the cloud
  • Especially favorable for practices with Dentrix experience, or that prefer working with an established organization
Dentrix G7
  • Single location practices
  • Practices that want a feature rich product that integrates with a large number of software & devices
  • Practices with staff experienced in Dentrix products
Open Dental
  • Single location practices
  • Dentists who desire affordable software
  • Tech-savvy dentists who want full access to the database
  • Dentists who want excellent support and frequent software updates
  • Dentists who want a system that integrates with most imaging and software systems

Table of Contents

Dentrix vs. Open Dental: Pricing

Dentrix Ascend
  • Starts at $500/month for up to 10 users
  • $995 initial setup fee
Dentrix G7
  • $6,995 price for license
  • Ongoing expense of $139/month for support
  • Additional fees for bundles with extra functionality
Open Dental
  • Software support is $169/month/location. Reduced to $119/month after 12 consecutive months
  • Support is mandatory for six months, and optional thereafter
  • E-service bundle is $135/month/location
  • More than three dentists per location is $20/month/provider

Key Differences


As highlighted above, Open Dental is by far more affordable than the other options discussed in this article.

Cloud-based vs. On-premise Systems

A cloud-based system is a subscription-based service that uses off-site servers that you connect through the internet. An on-premise system is a license-based service that is installed on your own computers and servers.

Software TypesProsCons
  • Best for multi-location practices
  • Sync your data across all locations
  • Scalability
  • No server purchase or maintenance
  • Automatic software updates & data back-up
  • Requires a reliable internet connection
  • In some cases, SaaS subscription may be more expensive than license+maintenance for on-premise
  • Must trust vendor with data security
  • In the long run, the cost for licenses, servers, and IT support may be cheaper than a monthly subscription to a cloud-based service
  • Requires no internet connection
  • Full control over technology and data
  • Higher upfront costs for software, hardware, and infrastructure
  • Recurring cost for IT support
  • Data is only accessible on-site
  • Manual software updates & data back-up
  • Limited storage

Dentrix Ascend is the only cloud-based software discussed in this article. Dentrix G7 and Open Dental are on-premise software that can only be hosted on a local server network.

If you want to connect to the cloud with Open Dental, you can set up a cloud-hosted server with Amazon Web Service Middle Tier, and connect to an Open Dental server. Also, you can store documents and images on Dropbox. Open Dental does not offer IT support for implementing or maintaining cloud servers.

Open-source vs. Proprietary Software

Open Dental is the only open-source dental practice management software on the market today. Open-source software is a type of software where the source code is accessible, and can be modified and shared. All other practice management systems are closed, meaning the source code is private.

Here are some benefits of open-source practice management software:

  • Highly integrated and customizable: Because the code source is available to users, Open Dental can be modified to integrate with most software and hardware. Also, Open Dental can be tailored to your own use cases and workflow. You can add different functionality, or remove unnecessary features.
  • Full access to data: Open Dental gives you complete control of your data, which enables you to create custom reports and queries.
  • Different financial motivations: Because Open Dental generates most of their revenue from support fees, they focus on providing exceptional customer support and frequent software updates.

Dentrix and Open Dental Product Overviews

Dentrix Ascend

Dentrix Ascend is an innovative, cloud-based practice management software used by over 20,000 customers. Cloud-based software has distinct advantages over on-premise options, such as consolidating data across all your offices, and simplifying the process of adding new locations to your practice.

It is a high quality system that offers many important features, but lacks many of the perks found in other software, such as robust patient engagement functionality. Because this is the first cloud-based option for market-leading Dentrix, we anticipate Dentrix Ascend will be the most popular cloud-based software in the future.

  • Cloud-based solution
  • Modern interface is well designed and easy to navigate
  • Includes open API
  • Experienced staff are often well versed with Dentrix products, and requires less training
  • Missing key features like a patient portal, business analytics, lab case tracking, employee time clock
  • Patient engagement is not fully-featured. Two-way texting only works for very limited use cases

Dentrix G7

Dentrix G7 is the most popular on-premise practice management software on the market today. It is packed with features, and highly integrated with software & devices that you use. The downside of Dentrix G7 is its price point. It is one of the most expensive practice management solutions.

  • Feature rich
  • Experienced staff are often well versed with Dentrix products, and requires less training
  • Integrates with a high volume of devices and hardware
  • More expensive than competitors
  • Challenging to access and view data remotely
  • Doesn’t have patient status tracking
  • User interface looks dated

Open Dental

Because of its price, customizability, and customer-centric focus, Open Dental is the best on-premise practice management software for single-location practices. Open Dental is ideal for dentists who want affordable software that is highly customizable. It is more cost-effective than Dentrix Ascend or Dentrix G7. It is open source which gives you complete control of data, and allows for custom reports and queries. Additionally, because Open Dental generates most of their revenue from support fees, they provide exceptional customer service and frequent software updates.

  • Open source
  • More affordable than Dentrix
  • Customer-support centric
  • More features than Ascend
  • Integrates with most third-party software and hardware
  • Manual data storage and encryption
  • Manual data backup
  • Not as user friendly for the less technically skilled

Bottom Line

Dentrix Ascend, Dentrix G7, and Open Dental are valuable dental practice management solutions used by tens of thousands of practices globally. They all have exceptional features to optimize charting, note-taking, scheduling, and billing. Modules are seamlessly integrated, so you don’t have to leave the software for most of your workflows.

However, each of these is best for specific dental practices. When choosing practice management software, keep these in mind:

  • Dentrix Ascend is cloud-based, but has the least features.
  • Dentrix G7 is a widely-used, feature-rich software, but is one of the most expensive practice management systems on the market.
  • Open Dental is open source, customer-centric, and affordable, but it is not user friendly if you are not tech savvy.

For deeper analyses of the practice management software we discussed, check out our in-depth reviews for Dentrix Ascend, Dentrix G7, and Open Dental.

Lloyd Park

Lloyd Park is a Research Analyst at SoftwarePundit, where he conducts in-depth analyses of software markets and products. Lloyd also has experience managing the development of software platforms and is an expert in content production & media software. You can connect with Lloyd on LinkedIn.

Lloyd is an expert in several software categories including:

  • Dental software
  • Email marketing software
  • Field service management software
  • Legal software
  • Property management software

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