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World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is a global awareness campaign observed on March 20 every year with an objective to spread awareness about oral health and hygiene. Organized by the FDI World Dental Federation, the campaign spreads messages about good oral hygiene practices for adults and children, and illustrates the importance of oral health in maintaining general health and well-being. It aims to empower people with the knowledge, tools and confidence to secure good oral health. Oral health and dental hygiene is an important part of a person’s overall health and well-being. Poor dental hygiene can lead to different types of dental cavities and gum diseases, and has a direct link to other medical conditions (heart disease, cancer, and diabetes) as well. Following proper oral hygiene habits (like flossing, brushing and limiting sugar intake) can help maintain healthy teeth and gums in the long run. Dental medical billing and coding can be challenging as it involves a wide range of diseases and conditions comprising different symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Outsourced medical billing services would be a practical solution for timely claims filing and correct reimbursement.

The 2021 WOHD campaign acts as a unique platform to spread the message about the importance of oral health, good hygiene and risk factor management in maintaining general health and wellbeing. It is estimated that about 90 percent of people suffer from some type of oral diseases which are avoidable. Dental cavities and gum diseases are very common. Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that between 60 and 90 percent of school children have at least one dental cavity, and between 15 and 20 percent of adults ages 35 to 44 have severe gum disease. Dental or oral conditions encompass a range of diseases like dental caries, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, gingivitis, periodontal and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. These types of diseases occur when the oral cavity collects all sorts of bacteria, viruses and fungi. A diet high in sugar also creates conditions in which acid-producing bacteria can flourish. Other related causes include – poor brushing habits, smoking, diabetes, use of medications (that reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth), hormonal changes (in women) and family history, or genetics.

The WOHD observance aims to generate awareness about the issues of oral health and the importance of oral hygiene so that healthcare associations, government agencies and the general public can take an extra step to work together to achieve healthier mouths and happier lives. There are different warning signs of dental health issues (which may vary from the type of disease a person suffers) which include – sores, or tender areas in the mouth, chronic bad breath, bleeding or swollen gums (after brushing or flossing), loose teeth, pain or toothache with chewing or biting, sudden sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures and swelling of the face and cheek.

Diagnosis of dental and oral programs begins with a detailed dental examination wherein the dentist will closely examine the teeth, mouth, throat, tongue, cheeks, jaws and neck areas of the patient. In certain cases, dentists may tap or scrape the teeth with various instruments or tools to assist with a diagnosis. Dental X-rays of the mouth will also be performed as part of the diagnosis. If any abnormal lumps, lesions, or growths are found in the mouth as part of the diagnosis, dental specialists may perform a gum biopsy to check for cancerous cells. Treatment modalities for gum diseases, infections or other problems may involve a combination of fluoride treatments, fillings, crowns, and sealants (to repair a cavity, crack or hole in the tooth), antibiotics and root canal. Keeping the mouth healthy and clean by following regular brushing and flossing habits can also help. Treatment procedures administered by dental specialists must be documented using the right medical codes. Medical billing services provided by reputable billing and coding companies ensure this so that accurate claim submissions are done. ICD-10 diagnosis codes for some common oral or dental conditions include –

  • K02 Dental caries
  • K05 Gingivitis and periodontal diseases
    • K05.0 Acute gingivitis
    • K05.1 Chronic gingivitis
    • K05.2 Aggressive periodontitis
    • K05.3 Chronic periodontitis
    • K05.4 Periodontosis
    • K05.5 Other periodontal diseases
    • K05.6 Periodontal disease, unspecified
  • K06.0 Gingival recession
    • K06.01 Gingival recession, localized
    • K06.02 Gingival recession, generalized
  • K12.3 Oral mucositis (ulcerative)
  • K13.7 Other and unspecified lesions of oral mucosa

World Oral Health Day focuses on a specific theme each year and reaches out to the public, oral health professionals and policymakers who all have a role in addressing the consequences of oral disease. The theme for 2021 – 2023 (that runs for three consecutive years) observance is – “Be Proud of Your Mouth”. This theme aims to motivate people to value and take care of their mouths and understand that by doing so, they can make an effort to reduce the burden of oral hygiene and protect their general health and well-being.

World Oral Health Day was first declared in 2007 and was originally celebrated on 12 September – the birth date of FDI founder Dr Charles Godon. However, the campaign was not fully activated until 2013, after the date was changed to 20 March to avoid conflict with the FDI World Dental Congress taking place in September. Over the years, the focus of the observance widened with clear targeting on individuals to take personal action, schools and youth groups to deliver learning activities about oral health, oral health professionals and the wider healthcare community to educate the populations they serve, and governments and policymakers to champion better oral health for all. People can actively take part in the campaign by spreading awareness about good oral hygiene via social media platforms, empowering children to better understand about oral health. People can use hashtags – #WorldOralHealthDay and #MouthProud #WOHD21 as part of the campaign.

Celebrate WOHD on March 20 and take collective action to reach different audiences and spread important oral health messages far and wide.