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Every year, February is observed as “National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM)” in the United States. Sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA), the month-long campaign aims to generate awareness about how important it is to get an early start on developing good dental hygiene habits – and how this can lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Tooth decay or dental caries is the most common of chronic diseases among children (aged 6 to 11 years) and adolescents (aged 12 to 19 years) in the United States. Also called tooth cavities, this condition refers to the damage of the structure of the tooth caused by acids that are created when plaque bacteria break down sugar in your mouth. If left untreated, these cavities or holes in the tooth can get larger over time and may even destroy the whole tooth. Regular dental visits and good brushing and flossing habits are your best protection against cavities and tooth decay. Dentists providing services to patients will have to report the same using the correct dental codes. Dental medical coding may involve several challenges. Dentists or periodontists offering treatment need to ensure that the medical billing and coding for dental caries is done appropriately on the medical claims. Opting for billing services from a reliable and established dental billing company would be a practical solution.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR, 2018 statistics), about 92% of adults (between the ages of 20 to 64) have had dental caries in their permanent teeth. It is estimated that dental caries are five times more common than asthma, four times more common than childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes.

The 2019 campaign is a perfect platform to bring together thousands of dedicated health professionals, educators and other healthcare providers to promote the benefits of good oral health among children and their caregivers.

Generally, the signs and symptoms of tooth decay or dental caries vary depending on their extent and specific location. In most cases, people may not experience any specific symptoms, when a cavity is just the beginning. However, as the decay gets larger, it may cause several signs and symptoms which include tooth pain, tooth sensitivity, visible holes or pits in your teeth, black or white staining on the teeth and mild to sharp pain (when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold). The potential factors that increase the risk of this condition include – frequent snacking or sipping, dry mouth, worn fillings or dental devices, tooth location and eating disorders.

Diagnosis of tooth decay begins with a detailed examination of the mouth and teeth. Dentists will probe the teeth with dental instruments to check for soft areas. In addition, they will also look at dental X-rays, which can show the extent of cavities and decay. Treatment options will depend on how severe the cavities are and these include fluoride treatments, fillings (also called restorations), custom-fitted covering (crowns), root canals and tooth extractions. The diagnosis, screening tests and other treatment procedures performed by dentists or periodontists must be carefully documented using the correct medical billing codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by experienced providers ensure this so that accurate claims submission is guaranteed. ICD-10 codes used for tooth decay or dental caries include –

K02 – Dental caries

    • K02.3 – Arrested dental caries


  • K02.5 – Dental caries on pit and fissure surface
    • K02.51 Dental caries on pit and fissure surface, limited to enamel
    • K02.52 Dental caries on pit and fissure surface, penetrating into dentin
    • K02.53 Dental caries on pit and fissure surface, penetrating into pulp
  • K02.6 – Dental caries on smooth surface
    • K02.61 – Dental caries on smooth surface, limited to enamel
    • K02.62 – Dental caries on smooth surface, penetrating into dentin
    • K02.63 – Dental caries on smooth surface, penetrating into pulp
  • K02.7 – Dental root caries
  • K02.9 – Dental caries, unspecified

The theme for 2019 National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) campaign is – “Brush and Clean in between to build a healthy smile”. Oral health professionals can join NCDHM campaign as “Smile Builders” by promoting oral health. These professionals can actively take part in this campaign by downloading posters, activity sheets, and planning guides from ADA (American Dental Association) website to help educators, caregivers, parents and others support the benefits of good oral health. The ADA has posted a vast amount of information on their website all aimed at educating and inspiring youngsters to enjoy cleaning their teeth and to help make it become a part of their daily routine.

NCDHM was first observed as a single day event in the US by the American Dental Association (ADA) on February 8, 1949. The major objective behind this event was to encourage children to develop good dental hygiene habits at an early age. Over the years, the scope of this campaign widened with more number of people and organizations across the country supporting the event – changing this single-day observance to a week-long event in 1955. However, in 1981 the program was again extended to a month-long celebration known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) and February was officially designated as the month to celebrate the same each year.

Due to the increased focus that the NCDHM campaign obtained, today this event is considered as a strong platform to generate awareness about the benefits of practicing good oral health among children, their caregivers, teachers and many others. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. A wide variety of events and activities including displaying posters, coloring, essay contests, health fairs, free dental screenings, museum exhibits, classroom presentations and dental office tours are carried out throughout the month of February.

Join the 2019 National Children’s Dental Health Month celebrations in February! Educate children, caregivers and other dental health professionals about the need for practicing good oral hygiene baits at an early age.