How to interpret Canadian Dental Codes

How to interpret Canadian Dental Codes

The Canadian Dental Association has a list of commonly used codes in Canada for dental procedures. While specific provincial dental associations have certain codes that are unique to their own province, the majority of provinces use the same5 digit  dental codes for routine procedures. The goal of this article is to help you to familiarize yourself with the different code subcategories in order to help you better navigate through them.


The Canadian dental codes are broken into different categories based on procedure.


Diagnostic Services (Codes ranging from 00001 09999),which includes services such as exams, radiographs, laboratory tests, consultations, and patient records (including photographs and dental casts/models)


Preventive Services (codes ranging from 10000-19999),which includes services such as cleanings/scaling, polishing, fluoride, nutritional counselling, oral appliances (used for bruxism/teeth grinding, sleep apnea, or temporomandibular joint disorders for example), space maintainers,  and the grinding or recontouring of existing restorations or teeth.


Restorative Services (codes ranging from 20000-29999),which includes services like restorations/filings, inlays/onlays, crowns (including removals and recementation) and different adjuncts used in fillings like pins, posts, cores


Endodontic Services (codes ranging from 30000-39999),which includes services like pulpectomies, root canals, apical surgery or bleaching of root canal treated teeth.  Codes in this range relate to procedures involving the tooth pulp/nerve.


Periodontal Services (codes ranging from 40000-49999),involves procedures and services such root planning, periosteal splints, the management of oral disorders and pathologies, gum surgeries like grafts and tissue regeneration, and the application of chemotherapeutic and antimicrobial agents (ie. Peridex/chlorhexidine, arestin). Codes in this range relate to procedures that involve the gums or the periodontium.


Removable Prosthetics (codes ranging from 50000-59999),involves procedures and services related to removable dentures. This includes procedure codes that relate to removable denture insertion, adjustment, repair, relining etc.


Fixed Prosthodontic Services (codes ranging from 60000-69999), involves procedures and services related to dental bridge/fixed partial dentures or resin bonded (Maryland bridge). A “retainer” the natural tooth that is attached to the false tooth also referred to as the “pontic”.


Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (codes ranging from 70000-79999),involves  procedures and services like extractions, removal and recontouring of bone (alveoloplasty) and gums (gingivectomy/gingivoplasty), biopsies, dental implant placement, and jaw/facial surgeries


Orthodontic Services (codes ranging from 80000-89999),involves services related to appliances that move the teeth. This includes fixed bracket-wires (braces) and removable clear aligners (ie. Invisialign), space regaining appliances, palatal expanders etc.


Adjunctive General Services (codes ranging from 90000-99999), includes procedures related to sedation (general anesthesia, nitrous, oral sedation), management of extraordinary patients, consultations with other professionals,  court appearances and related documents, bleaching/whitening, administration of drugs like botox and prescriptions, and tobacco cessation services.


General Notes


For many diagnostic or preventive procedures like scaling  or consultations, the final digit in the code denotes the number of units of time, where 15 mins= 1 unit. For example, the scaling code is 1111# and the # denotes unit of time (15mins). Therefore code 11111 would be a cleaning that lasts 15 mins; 11112 would be a cleaning that lasts 30 mins etc. A nine as the last digit typically denotes every additional unit.


For xrays  and photographs, the final digit in the code denotes the number of images. For example, the code for a periapical radiograph is 0211#. The code 02112 would mean that 2 periapical xrays were taken.


For restorative services, the final digit typically denotes the size of filling. For example the code 2310# is for a white filling on an anterior permanent tooth and # is the number of surfaces. There is a maximum of 5 surfaces on a tooth and they are denoted as mesial, distal, occlusal, buccal and lingual.  Therefore the code 23102 would be a white filling on a permanent anterior tooth that is two surfaces.

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3 thoughts on “How to interpret Canadian Dental Codes

  1. My insurer SunLife uses the Canadian dental codes. I had dental work done in the Philippines and they did not know the code for cephalomeric X-rays. The insurer did not know the code either. Can you help?

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