Do you know the most common chronic childhood disease? It’s early childhood “tooth decay”.

Impacting more children than asthma, tooth decay in children can take a negative toll on a child’s overall health and well-being. According to the ADA, more than 40% of children have tooth decay by the time they reach Kindergarten. To practice good dental hygiene at an early age, make your children develop good oral habits. Schedule regular dental visits as it would help children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. To spread awareness of the benefits of good oral health among children, their caregivers, teachers and many others, February is observed as National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). This month-long national health observance sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA) aims to generate widespread awareness about the importance of developing good dental hygiene habits at an early age to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles. Dentists providing treatment for dental conditions can rely on an experienced dental billing company to meet their documentation requirements, including medical billing and coding. Such companies provide the service of medical coders well-trained and experienced in using the current medical codes to report covered conditions and treatments.

Facts about Children’s Dental Health

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:

  • 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth.
  • 23% of children ages 2 to 11 have untreated dental caries.
  • Children ages 2 to 11 have an average of 1.6 decayed primary teeth and 3.6 decayed primary surfaces.

Why Good Dental Health Is Important for Children

From the above statistics it’s clear that tooth decay has become a common childhood disease in many children. Also referred to as tooth cavities, dental caries or tooth decay is the second most popular health condition in the US. The condition causes permanent destruction of tooth enamel (the hard, outer layer of the teeth) that develops tiny openings or holes. If left untreated, the condition can become severe and affect the deeper layers of the teeth causing toothache, infection and tooth loss.

To keep your children’s mouth, teeth, and gums healthy and clean, look after their dental hygiene. In February each year, the ADA sponsors NCDHM, to encourage children and parents and the general public to learn all about dental hygiene and keep on top of their own oral health. The theme for 2022 is “Sealants Make Sense”.

“Sealants Make Sense”

Dental sealants are an effective way to prevent caries, says the chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention’s advisory committee. He says that, “Sealants on permanent molars reduce the risk of caries by 80%”. This cavity-preventing treatment, are a quick, easy, and painless way to prevent cavities. Thin coatings of sealant painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) can prevent cavities (tooth decay) for many years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once applied, dental sealants protect against 80% of cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years.

Billing and Coding for Dental Conditions

Billing and coding for dental conditions can be challenging. Dentists or periodontists providing treatment should carefully document the diagnosis, screening tests and other treatment procedures using the correct medical billing codes. Billing and coding services provided by experienced medical billing companies help in accurate claims submissions.

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 …… limited to enamel
      • K02.52 …… penetrating into dentin
      • K02.53 …… penetrating into pulp
    • K02.6 Dental caries on smooth surface
      • K02.61 …… limited to enamel
      • K02.62 …… penetrating into dentin
      • K02.63 …… penetrating into pulp
    • K02.7 Dental root caries
    • K02.9 Dental caries, unspecified

The theme of this year’s NCDHM would help in increasing public awareness of dental sealants, and improve communication between parents and oral health professionals. It will help parents make informed decisions about dental sealant applications for their children and adolescents. However, developing good oral health practices at an early age and visiting the dentist regularly will help children maintain healthy teeth and gums.