Microsoft Windows XP-Pro and Windows Server 2008
There are other options but Windows is far and away the industry leader. Using an alternative like Linux or Mac is possible but very limiting.
Windows 7 has yet to prove itself and is not recommended for dentistry at this time (2010) however I expect it will be the OS of choice in the future. Vista has been plagued with problems and should be avoided.
Practice Management System
Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Practice Works, Softdent
These four products dominate the market in the US. They will all work for a dental office wishing to go paperless. They each have strengths and weaknesses but are all acceptable. There are other products which could also work. However these are more regional or specialized and I simply do not have the knowledge to comment on other products.
X-Ray and Image Management
This could be an extension of the practice management system or a stand alone application bridged to the patient record. It is not possible to have a paperless record without paperless diagnostics. At a minimum a paperless office needs digital radiography.
We mentally distinguish between two image types, x-rays and photos (visible light). However in many ways they is really no difference as far as the computer is concerned. Just as a 35mm color slide and an x-ray transparency are different versions of the same photographic technology a digital color image and a digital x-ray are different versions of the same digital technology. The primary difference is in how the image is acquired, yet once it is digitized the computer software needed to work with an x-ray or photographic image is really the same.
Microsoft Office (Standard)
Again as with the practice management systems there are other options but Office dominates and will work well for a dental office and it is easy to get training and support.
There are several versions of Office. Microsoft changes the packages frequently, however the four products now offered in the Standard Package; Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel. Are what a dental office needs.
Need More Help? The article above is an excerpt from The Emmott on Technology Tech Guide; Going Paperless in the Dental Office.