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J Dent Educ. 2011 Jan;75(1):68-76.

The development of a dental diagnostic terminology.

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  • 1Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs, Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 188 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


There is no commonly accepted standardized terminology for oral diagnoses. The purpose of this article is to report the development of a standardized dental diagnostic terminology by a work group of dental faculty members. The work group developed guiding principles for decision making and adhered to principles of terminology development. The members used an iterative process to develop a terminology incorporating concepts represented in the Toronto/University of California, San Francisco/Creighton University and International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9/10 codes and periodontal and endodontic diagnoses. Domain experts were consulted to develop a final list of diagnostic terms. A structure was developed, consisting of thirteen categories, seventy-eight subcategories, and 1,158 diagnostic terms, hierarchically organized and mappable to other terminologies and ontologies. Use of this standardized diagnostic terminology will reinforce the diagnosis-treatment link and will facilitate clinical research, quality assurance, and patient communication. Future work will focus on implementation and approaches to enhance the validity and reliability of diagnostic term utilization.

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