Note writing hacks and time savers

Author: Dr. Aisling Whitaker

A day in a dental clinic is busy. Everyone is on their game, pushing to run on time and be efficient. Over the years, I have found a few things that have made a big difference to my note writing that make things easier.

Note templates

Take the time to create a batch of note templates for each of your appointments. There are many courses and guides you can follow to ensure your note templates are in keeping with what your college expects. Once you have the templates written, they save a lot of effort when typing out the standard aspects of the appointment. Of course, there are many components that need to be customized, and the keyboard shortcuts below can help with that.


As a dentist, I practise four-handed dentistry, and also four-eared dentistry. My assistant is listening to every conversation with the patient and writing everything down. They are deeply familiar with my templates and where they should fill in. They also write some very interesting spellings so it is critical to review the notes prior to locking at the end of the appointment. For hygienists, consider whether a voice-activate system makes sense for assisting with your notes.

Keyboard shortcuts

This is the icing on the cake. Keyboard shortcuts are a really quick way to enter common discussion points, add sentences you commonly use but don’t fit in templates etc. They work in your dental software, in emails, anywhere on your computer really. The sky is the limit once you get into it.

For Apple computers, go to system preferences, keyboard, text. Select the (+) symbol to add the keyword you would like to “replace” and the long sentence you would like to replace it “with”.

For Windows computers, you can use the built in AutoText or go with a third party text expander software, like Expanso.

For your keyword, use a phrase you wouldn’t type usually. Here are some samples I use on the regular.

rxamoxRx Amoxicillin 500mg TDS 7/7 Dispense 21 tablets.
lalidoLA topical placed for 3 mins. LA 1 carp 2% 1:100k lidocaine with epinephrine infiltration. POIG.
laartLA topical placed for 3 mins. LA 1 carp 4% 1:200k articaine with epinephrine infiltration. POIG.
laplainLA topical placed for 3 mins. LA 1 carp 3% mepivacaine plain infiltration. POIG.
disctmdDiscussed TMD with patient. Discussed contributing factors (habits, chewing gum, nail biting, clenching, grinding, caffeine). Discussed treatment options (no treatment, night time splint therapy, referral to TMD clinic). Discussed rate of progression and concerns for future more extensive treatment if continues.
discrecessionDiscussed recession with patient. Discussed contributing factors (brushing technique, medium bristles, RDA toothpaste, thin gingival biotype, tissue ties). Discussed treatment options (no treatment, grafting referral, monitoring changes, topical agents to desensitise) and oral hygiene recommendations (soft bristles, low RDA toothpaste). Discussed rate of progression and concerns for future more extensive treatment if continues.
discerosionDiscussed erosive tooth wear with patient. Discussed contributing factors (acidity from diet, drinks, frequency vs. quantity, GERD, H. Pylori). Discussed treatment options (no treatment, timelapse scan to monitor, topical agents to desensitise, alkaline diet, high mineral toothpaste, MI paste treatment, restorative). Discussed rate of progression and concerns for future more extensive treatment if continues.
discctsDiscussed cracked tooth syndrome. Discussed contributing factors (bruxism, trauma). Discussed treatment options (no treatment, bonded restoration, full coverage crown, referral to endodontist, extraction). Discussed rate of progression and concerns for future more extensive treatment if continues.
disccariesDiscussed caries observed, rate and extent. Discussed contributing factors (diet, frequency vs. quantity, acidity/buffering, hydration, medications). Discussed treatment options (no treatment, restorations, high fluoride/xylitol toothpaste, spit don’t rinse, oral probiotics). Discussed rate of progression and concerns for future more extensive treatment if continues.

About the Author: Dr. Aisling Whitaker, BA (Hons) MSc PhD BDS (Hons)
Dr. Aisling Whitaker is a general dentist, owner of multiple dental clinics Bitehaus Dental in Toronto and CEO of Dental Hive. Dr. Whitaker is experienced in starting a dental clinic from scratch, developing marketing campaigns, office systems and building a strong team culture.

The content of this article is provided for general information purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice, or opinions of any kind and may not be used for professional or commercial purposes. No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely upon the content of this article, any links provided in this article, or other general information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. Nothing in this article should be understood to create any fiduciary or professional service relationship.