Comprehensive Dental Oral Exam Defined
Comprehensive Dental Oral Exam is defined by the ADA as “… an extensive evaluation and the recording of all extraoral, intraoral and soft tissues”.
This is true for both new patients to the practice and to existing patients in the practice.
Yes, existing patients too! Even patients who are regular hygiene patients who receive frequent periodic exams with you. Be sure to keep these patients on a consistent schedule that includes a comprehensive oral exam as well.
New patients to the practice require a comprehensive oral exam. That’s easy to understand. There is a lot of information to gather. And that includes dental history, medications, and home care routines.
But what about our existing patient population? And why is this important? There are several very good reasons to keep this as a standard of care in your dental practice.
Comprehensive Dental Oral Exam for Existing Patients
Frequency may vary from patient to patient. For example, patients with a high rate of decay might require a full comprehensive exam every 3 years. Or perhaps even less than 3 years.
Where an existing patient with few caries or restorations may be just fine on a 5-year schedule. This is a fabulous time to take your full series of patient x-rays and photos, too. And discuss anything your patient might like to consider in their oral care and smile.
Dental Insurance Frequency Considerations
Dental insurance policies vary in frequency for this procedure code. And I hope that isn’t on your checklist of considerations. We definitely don’t hand our standard of care over to insurance companies.
Patients may ask that question. “Will my insurance cover this?” It’s always helpful to be prepared with that information in advance. And to provide the patient with the procedure code as well.
Educate and Encourage
Involve patients in their insurance benefits. The more your patients know, the less you have to do for them. However, I have found it best to avoid that “it’s your insurance” attitude.
Anything that is important to my patient is important to me too! And I work to help transition the patient from helpless to their own insurance advocate and guru! One that I can even pose questions to about their benefits!
There are 2 big benefits to routine comprehensive oral exams for existing patients.
- Reduce time needed for periodic exams
- Increase office production
Both of these make us smile in practice management. We are better able to connect with our patients. And we discover more about our patients’ overall health. As well as their wishes and desires concerning their smile!
Comprehensive Dental Oral Exam vs Perio Exam
Keep in mind, a periodontal patient may require a different exam. D0180 is the CDT code for a comprehensive periodontal exam for new or existing patients.
So, if you wish to evaluate a patient’s periodontal condition, this is the code to use. Or if the patient is a diabetic or a smoker. Even if there are other risk factors present.