Be prepared for changes coming to the Orthodontics section of the CDT Code beginning January 1, 2022. 

The American Association of Orthodontists is excited to announce that the Code Maintenance Committee of the American Dental Association, the body responsible for evaluating and voting on proposed changes to the Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature (CDT Code), approved all three of the AAO’s Code Action Requests at its meeting this past March. These changes will be reflected in CDT 2022, which will be effective for services provided on or after January 1, 2022.

The AAO’s approved requests were:

  1. Delete the Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment subcategory nomenclature, descriptor, and codes D8050 and D8060
  2. Revise the Limited Orthodontic Treatment descriptor
  3. Delete D8690 “orthodontic treatment (alternative billing to a contract fee)”

How this will impact AAO Members?

In the fall of 2020, the Council on Orthodontic Health Care (COHC), the AAO’s council responsible for studying and making recommendations on all matters concerning third party reimbursement plans, polled AAO Members to gauge whether the then current CDT Code was meeting orthodontists’ needs. Respondents to that survey selected “Determining when a case is Limited vs. Interceptive” (21.2%) and “Determining when a case is Limited vs. Comprehensive” (14.8%) as two of their “top three areas of concern with the code.” 

Because of the approved changes, beginning in 2022 the Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment codes will cease to exist and the descriptor of Limited Orthodontic Treatment will be revised. This should help eliminate ambiguity and redundancy, as the procedures previously described as “interceptive” were thought to be substantively similar clinically to the Limited Orthodontic Treatment procedures.

The new language for Limited Orthodontic Treatment will be as follows:

Limited Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment utilizing any therapeutic modality with a limited objective or scale of treatment. Treatment may occur in any stage of dental development or dentition.

The objective may be limited by:

  • not involving the entire dentition.
  • not attempting to address the full scope of the existing or developing orthodontic problem.
  • mitigating an aspect of a greater malocclusion (i.e., crossbite, overjet, overbite, arch length, anterior alignment, one phase of multi-phase treatment, treatment prior to the permanent dentition, etc.).
  • a decision to defer or forego comprehensive treatment.

D8010   limited orthodontic treatment of the primary dentition
D8020   limited orthodontic treatment of the transitional dentition
D8030   limited orthodontic treatment of the adolescent dentition
D8040   limited orthodontic treatment of the adult dentition

The deletion of D8690 should also help reduce confusion for AAO Members. The Code Maintenance Committee expressed its agreement with the COHC/AAO position that D8690 does not truly represent a procedure, is redundant with other existing codes, and is no longer required.

As a reminder, these changes will not take effect until January 1, 2022. However, because the new code set will most certainly impact your coding and billing practices, the AAO wanted to make you aware of them now to help you and your staff prepare.  

Interested in Coding and Billing Resources from the AAO?

Additional information regarding the CDT Code, billing, and related issues can be found on the Insurance Claims page on the AAO Member Website. You and your staff can also take advantage of training on this topic and others by visiting the AAO’s Continuing Education page. 

Have Suggestions or Concerns Regarding the CDT?

If you have suggestions or concerns regarding the CDT Code that you would like COHC to consider for future Code Action Requests, click here to submit your thoughts to the Dental Benefits Comment Box.