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Are all orthodontists board certified?

No. All orthodontists must be licensed to practice; however, board certification is a voluntary achievement that not all orthodontists choose to pursue. In order to become board certified by the ABO, an individual orthodontist is thoroughly interviewed by a highly respected panel of examiners to demonstrate orthodontic knowledge, clinical skills, and judgment.

ABO certification signifies a unique achievement—a significant step beyond the two to three years of advanced education required for a dentist to become a specialist in orthodontics. The process requires the orthodontist to demonstrate actual accomplishments in patient care, with detailed case reports on the treatment provided for a broad range of patient problems.

How many certifying boards are recognized by the American Dental Association in the specialty of orthodontics?

One. The American Board of Orthodontics is the only certifying board in the specialty recognized by the American Dental Association. The ABO was founded in 1929 and is the oldest specialty board in dentistry. The board’s purpose is to elevate the quality of orthodontic care for the public by promoting excellence through certification, education, and professional collaboration.

Why would an orthodontist choose to complete this voluntary certification process?

Successful completion of the examination process demonstrates the orthodontist’s highest commitment to excellence in orthodontics – to both the orthodontic profession and the general public. It represents a commitment by a licensed specialist that he of she has the necessary knowledge base and skills to treat patients to the highest of standards.

It exemplifies a practitioner’s commitment to continue to remain abreast of the latest advances in patient care, and to deliver these advances to patients. Many orthodontists see it as a demonstration of their dedication to the specialty and the highest level of personal achievement.

What steps are required to complete the ABO certification process?

Since the establishment of the ABO in 1929, the certification process requirements have continued to adjust to the demands of the specialty. Today, the process involves a thorough writteneExamination (240 questions) that covers all areas of information about which an orthodontist should be knowledgeable.

Successful completion of this “board exam” allows the orthodontist to proceed to the clinical examination, during which the candidate presents detailed case reports from their practice or residency, to demonstrate a history of excellence in patient care. These cases are evaluated by a panel of examiners and later discussed during an oral examination in which the applicant is tested on a wide variety of academic and clinical topics.

After successful completion of these examinations, the orthodontist has officially achieved board certification for a time-limited period. The orthodontist must go through certification renewal every 10 years to maintain certification status by demonstrating this continued level of patient care.

For further information about the American Board of Orthodontics and board certification, click here.