SNODENT: The language of dentistry

Learn more about SNODENT and how it supports oral health.

What is SNODENT?

SNODENT is a set of clear, accurate terms created for use in electronic dental records. It is recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an ADA/ANSI standard. But these terms do much more than simply help dentists record their patients’ dental findings.

SNODENT is harmonized with SNOMED-CT, the broader body of terms used in electronic medical records, making it a shared language for coordinated care. Researchers also benefit from the detailed data they can glean from data sets that use SNODENT. This language is also aligned with ICD-10-CM to facilitate accurate dental billing.

Download this guide to learn more about SNODENT and its use in your practice.
Browse the SNODENT hierarchy, which contains more than 7,000 standardized terms.
Apply for a no-cost usage license.
See something you believe should be revised? Notify the ADA SNODENT team.
Learn about characteristics of good vocabulary.
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Email questions to the ADA team that maintains SNODENT.

How SNODENT serves the dental profession

Discover how SNODENT supports accurate, efficient record-keeping, oral health research and much more.

How does SNODENT help the dental industry tap the full value of electronic dental records?

Because it is specifically designed for use with electronic health records, SNODENT helps capture, gather and analyze detailed oral health data. SNODENT is harmonized with SNOMED-CT, the standardized nomenclature for medical care — which means that SNODENT codes work the same way that SNOMED codes do. This is useful in sharing information among health care providers, research organizations and others interested in oral health. SNOMED-CT is also an HL7-recognized set of terms, fully approved for use with HL7 Clinical Document templates such as the Continuing Care Document and the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR, pronounced "fire") standards. This allows for seamless exchange of data between the two platforms.

How does SNODENT help us standardize and share oral health data?

SNODENT is a very precise set of terms that makes it simpler for clinicians, academics and researchers to record finely detailed oral health data. Because it is interoperable with HL7 and other health care documents, SNODENT transcends factors such as geography, platform differences and care settings — thus providing clearer, more useful data for all oral health professionals.

Many oral health conditions, specific anatomical sites and other clinical concepts can be found only in the SNODENT terminology, making it the most accurate language for describing dental disease, care techniques and more.

What other ways does SNODENT support oral health?

By utilizing SNODENT, members of the dental profession can:

  • Improve communication among dentists and other health care providers
  • Provide more granular data for oral health research
  • Support accurate public health reporting and investigation
  • Document patient findings for electronic dental records

Keeping SNODENT current

Discover how the ADA maintains SNODENT standards.

How often does the ADA update SNODENT?

The ADA began the process of updating SNODENT for use in the current environment several years ago, gradually adapting it to function as a terminology synchronized with SNOMED-CT. SNODENT is an American National Standard approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Updates to SNODENT are released every fall, reflecting changes made over the year. Regular updates may refine logical relationships between concepts and terms, retire concepts no longer in use and introduce new ones.

Who makes changes to SNODENT? How does the process work?

A dedicated SNODENT Maintenance Committee and team within the ADA’s Center for Informatics and Standards manages updates to SNODENT. Maintenance of SNODENT includes ongoing evaluation of existing concepts, the possible addition of new concepts to SNODENT that do not exist in the current version of SNODENT or SNOMED-CT, and current concepts that may need to be retired. This involves periodic review of SNODENT as well as implementation of a formal submission process from users and other organizations as appropriate. The final approved revision of SNODENT is then submitted to the SNODENT Canvass Committee for ballot through ANSI-approved ADA Canvass Committee Procedures. The ADA follows an open, consensus-based ANSI process that draws on ADA findings and the suggestions of dentists, researchers and other oral health professionals. Working together, we seek to keep the nomenclature aligned with the very latest developments in oral health care.

Membership on the SNODENT Canvass Committee is open to all interested parties. To find out more, email

What changes have been made to SNODENT since 2007?

Since 2007, the ADA has made these significant adjustments to SNODENT:

  • Eliminated the “not otherwise specified” (NOS) designation.
  • Identified frequently used terms.
  • Added terms from the ADA Patient Dental and Medical Health History Information Form.
  • Assigned concepts to SNODENT hierarchies.
  • Reviewed descriptions that were assigned to the concepts.
  • Reviewed synonyms for the concepts.
  • Developed a cross-walk from SNODENT to ICD-10-CM.
  • Obtained recognition of SNODENT as an American National Standard.
  • Instituted a formal, open, consensus-based process to manage ongoing changes.
  • Harmonized SNODENT with the Dental Diagnostic System (formerly EZ Codes) to create a new subset known as SNO-DDS.
  • Selected the most frequently observed, recorded and diagnosed conditions to create SNO-DDS GD , a smaller subset of SNODENT that satisfies most needs within General Dentistry.
  • Developed an orthodontic subset, with other specialty subsets currently in development.
    SNODENT now conforms to the Vocabulary Desiderata, which defines 12 qualities that a sound vocabulary should have. Learn more about the 12 characteristics.