Problem List and Plan

You can organize your care and recare of dental patients by creating and updating a “problems and plans” area in the patient’s record.  In some practice management software,  such as Open Dental, you store an active “problem list and plan” as an MS Word document. This document can easily be changed, saved in a non-modifiable pdf file for malpractice protection, printed for in-office use or printed as a handout for discussion and given to the patient to take home.

Having a summary of all the information and recare needs of a patient makes it very easy for any staff person to understand the patient’s clinical situation and is a good way to focus discussion during the “morning huddle.”


This MS Word document is very easy to edit depending upon the needs of the practice. It can be printed or saved as part of the clinical record. A “low tech” alternative is simply to print of supply of the forms and circle the relevant areas. (Best to keep a scanned copy if you give the original to the patient.) Click on the image above to download the editable MS Word document.


But wait!  There’s more!

You can make this document even easier to use by formatting some common problems and plans as shown below. You can save several different versions to use as a “default” for different clinical situations and you can update the problems and plans for a patient as their needs change over time by using the built in “high-lite” tool in MS Word. You can save a permanent copy as a pdf file while still keeping the working copy in MS Word so it is easy to change in the future.

The hygienist can not only share this list with the patient at recare appointments but quickly print or email a copy of the pdf file. (Be sure to chart that the problems and plans were discussed with the patient and a copy was given!  Great protection if a patient later asserts. “You never told me!”)

perio pt problems

Use the high-lite tool in MS Word to clearly indicate to patients and staff just which problems and plans pertain to this patient. It is best to print this on a color printer but you can also save it as a pdf file and simply email it to the patient.