Should I Invest in a Dental Coding Book

By: Natalie Lucken, Account Manager

Every year when the latest CDT codes are activated on January 1st, everyone who works in a dental office wonders, “Do we need to buy a new coding guide book?” We all know how complex the system of Common Dental Terminology (CDT) is, but many of us are really confused about the options and the availability of resources online. I have gathered some of them together here, for comparison.

  • Practice Booster’s Coding with Confidence 2017, by Dr. Charles Blair; $180.00 on . Considered the gold standard by many in the dental field, this guide and it’s accompanying online access, are a one-stop solution for any office with multiple front office staff. Especially if they have varying levels of experience with dental coding. Not only are the codes fully explained, but the implied meaning of them is also spelled out for better clarity.
  • CDT 2017; , $67.45 currently (due to being in the latter half of the year); I recommend getting this one if you work in an office with very experienced dental front office. All the codes are included, of course, but this one misses a lot of the subtle meanings and doesn’t offer much help if you don’t already have a firm grasp on how to choose the best codes for your procedures.  
  • Codeology by Patti DiGangi; cost is (4 mini Books, 7 eBooks for $60.00 special sale price) ; A light-hearted approach to the standard coding guides, recommend this one for those who know the basics, but could use some more pointers to sharpen their skills. I have so far checked out the ROMA book (#7 in the series), which is a humorous book about dentistry, to accompany the rest of the set for your office’s front desk.
  • Optum360’s Coding and Payment Guide for Dental Services, 2017 edition; $71.98 on special now, $179.00 full price . Currently, I own last year’s version of this one, and the basic format is the same. Each code is given its own page for a very in-depth look at the code’s usage, and examples of other related codes that may also apply in your situation.

Many of these guides will offer an online subscription component, which is fantastic for those who want their coding constantly updated every year. While it may be cost-prohibitive to opt-in for this feature, this beats searching for free, online coding information, which is usually out of date, or buried in a list of ads and offers to update your software.

You also have the option to hunt for a list of the newest codes at the end of the year, or in January of the next year, and add it to whatever book you have chosen to use. I have yet to come across an office whose coding guide was less than 3 years old, so I have to wonder if it’s worth keeping it around the desk at that point. Do your office a favor and update your references every other year (the bare minimum), and make a point of researching the newest codes for the year at a site like Find-A-Code ( ). Otherwise, you could be falling behind, unable to verify insurance processing for your practice’s) claims.


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