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Code Maintenance Committee OKs teledentistry, A1c codes

March 14, 2017

By David Burger


Collaboration: Dr. Alan E. Friedel, a Florida dentist, gives his input during the annual Code Maintenance Committee meeting at ADA Headquarters in Chicago March 9.
Teledentistry will for the first time be included in the ADA's Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature (CDT Code).  The Code Maintenance Committee approved two codes relating to the process during its March 9 meeting at ADA Headquarters.

The two codes are among 18 new codes, 16 revisions to existing codes and three deletions that the committee approved. Six of the new codes are replacements for the three deletions. All these changes will be part of CDT 2018, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2018.

"Teledentistry is a rising trend in our profession that is here to stay," said Dr. Ronald D. Riggins, chair of the CMC and the Council on Dental Benefit Programs. "With the ADA House of Delegates passing a comprehensive policy statement at the 2015 annual meeting, dentists are now able to document this expansion of the traditional dental practice, where patients can have a virtual dental home instead of a physical one. More and more dentists are using teledentistry to provide access to care."

The two teledentistry codes are:

D9xxx teledentistry – synchronous; real-time encounter
Reported in addition to other procedures (e.g., diagnostic) delivered to the patient on the date of service.

D9xxx teledentistry – asynchronous; information stored and forwarded to dentist for subsequent review.
Reported in addition to other procedures (e.g., diagnostic) delivered to the patient on the date of service.

Another new code reflects the increasing role dentists play beyond a patient's oral care — in overall systemic health. The code relates to an in-office measure of hemoglobin A1c, a blood test that provides information about a person's average circulating blood sugar levels in the previous 3 months.

"People with poorly controlled diabetes are at greater risk for dental problems," Dr. Riggins said. "High blood sugar may cause dry mouth and make gum disease worse. There is a definite link of oral health to overall health, and dentists are often on the front lines of investigating systemic health."


All together now: Members of the Code Maintenance Committee meeting cast their votes with yellow cards during the annual CMC meeting at Chicago’s ADA Headquarters March 9.
The ADA chairs the Code Maintenance Committee meeting and has five of the 21 votes cast; each of the nine specialty organization plus the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Education Association have one vote each; and each of the five payer organization has one vote.

Dr. Riggins noted the active and positive discussion at the meeting, which involved stakeholders from many facets of dental care. "There was quite a bit of engagement from observers," he said. "That collegial open exchange helps the CMC make meaningful decisions."

The CMC meeting action report that includes information on all decisions made will be posted on ada.org/cdt by April 11.  Code numbers for all 18 new procedure code entries will be published in the CDT 2018 manual, available this fall in the ADA online catalog.

Information about the committee and the CDT Code maintenance process is available online at ada.org/cdt.  Anyone interested in submitting a CDT Code action request is welcome to do so.  November 1, 2017, is the closing date for requests that will be considered for inclusion in CDT 2019.