ADA Dental Experience and Research Exchange, Open Dental help dentists answer questions about treatment, outcomes

'One of the most influential programs to help dentists, the profession for decades to come'

The ADA’s Dental Experience and Research Exchange, or DERE, and its integration with practice management system Open Dental empowers dentists to make evidence-based clinical decisions to improve patient health outcomes today.

“Insurance companies already have access to data about insured patients. Why shouldn’t dentists be able to see aggregate data about the patient population, too?” said Kevin Dens, D.D.S., ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs chair.

“With DERE, dentists can come together to help create a comprehensive dental data database,” Dr. Dens added. “And because DERE data isn’t tied to a single payer, it’s inclusive of all dental patients — both insured and uninsured.”

The ADA launched DERE in 2021 as a new outcomes assessment, research and reporting program intended to promote excellence in dental care. DERE puts the power of analysis in the practice’s hands by helping them identify and track patient and practice trends through a personalized dashboard equipped with quality measure reports. Open Dental became the first practice management system to integrate with the program.

In April, DERE added two new dashboard reports. The first, a financial report, highlights the total cost of care per patient; the other, Established Patients with only Preventive Care at Follow-up, looks at the percentage of active established patients with only oral evaluation, preventive services or radiographs during the measurement year.

“Open Dental users are able to gain insight to become better clinicians,” said Open Dental CEO Nathan Sparks, regarding those who are taking advantage of the integration. “Dentists can see up-to-date snapshots of patient and practice data to see treatment trends and also view this data by location, provider or patient demographic. This allows them to provide more focused, evidenced-based care. With the new reports, dentists can also focus on average patient cost of care.”

DERE is the first dental data registry open to all practice types to:

  • Create a more comprehensive source of data including clinical information, health history and dental findings.
  • Create a data source that is not limited to patients covered by a dental plan (i.e. claims data).
  • Allow more real-time aggregation of data across the dental delivery system.
  • Develop time-trends on treatment patterns and outcomes.

DERE has a protected cloud-based data repository that collects practice, provider and patient data directly from Open Dental. Additional practice management systems will be integrated in the near future.

After a dental practice enrolls, DERE accesses, extracts and stores practice, provider and patient data directly from the practice’s Open Dental software. The patient data excludes certain identifiers such as names and addresses but may include identifiers such as treatment dates and zip codes. HIPAA allows limited data sets to be used only for purposes of research, public health and health care operations.

Once data is extracted by DERE, it is aggregated and analyzed, which can then be used by the dental practice get an overall snapshot of their patient and practice data. A practice’s dashboard is refreshed with new data every two weeks.

“As a user, I’ve found it valuable to be able to easily see current trends among my patients,” said Dr. Dens. “What’s most exciting is that, as more dentists join DERE, the better our picture of the state of oral health in the U.S. will be. DERE will be one of the most influential programs to help dentists and the profession for decades to come.”

Mr. Sparks added that he hopes the integration of DERE and Open Dental continues to evolve and help dentists make evidence-based decisions that improve dental care.

“As this innovative program continues to allow this reporting, I hope that the large amount of anonymous data will allow researchers to provide information about real world clinical results and how dentists can provide more effective care,” he said.

To explore the new reports and to learn more about DERE, visit

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