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CDT manual continues to meet dentistry’s changing needs

8th edition, now available, offers variety of coding resources

Twenty years, eight editions, 189 additional pages.

The Current Dental Terminology manual has changed quite a bit since the first edition was published in 1990. Evolutionary changes have made it a valuable and necessary reference for dentists to have at their fingertips.

The new CDT 2011-2012 is 297 pages and is the 8th edition. It contains the Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature, which is designated by the federal government under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 as the national terminology for reporting dental services and is recognized by third-party payers nationwide.

“CDT aids dentists in finding the best procedure code for documenting the care they provided,” said Dr. Christopher J. Smiley, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs. “The Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature is named a HIPAA national standard by the federal government. Third-party payers license its use from the ADA and they cannot change the codes, the code descriptors or their intent. Knowledgeable use of the Code allows dentists to advocate for their patients when third-party administrators refuse to provide the entitled benefit.”

The ADA expanded sections of the manual over the years to provide additional topic information. The section titled “Tooth Numbering and Area of the Oral Cavity” now includes the scheme for enumeration of supernumerary teeth as recommended by the CDBP and adopted by the House of Delegates; anatomically correct illustrations of teeth in the permanent arches; and a graphic representation of the universal/national tooth numbering system.

Sections have also been added to provide more information. “Changes to the Code” includes color-coded text that shows, by category of service, new, revised and deleted code entries; “Claim Form Completion Instructions” has comprehensive item-by-item instructions with illustrations and additional codes; and a Q-and-A section provides more than 100 questions and their answers, by category of service, that convey CDBP’s views on how the Code is used for record-keeping and claim submission.

A practical example of the value of the CDT occurred when Dr. Dennis Engel, ADA 9th District trustee, was seeking the proper code for fabrication of trays to deliver at-home fluoride treatments for his patient undergoing radiation treatment. CDBP member Dr. James Richeson suggested a hint to find codes. “Check out the alphabetical index in the back of CDT,” Dr. Richeson said. “In this case, look up ‘fluoride’ and under that heading see ‘gel carrier.’ There you will find the code D5986 Fluoride Gel Carrier, the page to find it in the Code and any other page on which it’s referenced.”

Dr. Richeson presents the code workshop for the ADA and this is one of the tips offered in the class.

The CDT manual has also spawned a slew of Code-related educational programs and products, including the Code Workshop; ADA CE Online’s Introduction to the Code and Its Use; and the CDT Companion, another reference publication for dentists and their staff that is now in its 3rd edition and features coding scenarios.

To purchase the new CDT 2011-2012, visit or call 1-800-947-4746.