ABO PyramidAre all orthodontists board certified?

No. While all orthodontists must be licensed to practice, only 1 in 3 orthodontists go on to complete Board Certification. The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) certification process marks a unique achievement. It is a significant accomplishment beyond the two to three years of advanced education required for a dentist to become specialized in orthodontics. The certification process requires the orthodontist to complete hundreds of additional hours of preparation while showcasing the judgment, knowledge, and skills required for providing the highest level of patient care. Furthermore, in order to become board certified, the individual orthodontist must go through a thorough interview completed by a highly-regarded panel of examiners.

How many certifying boards does the American Dental Association recognize in the specialty of orthodontics?

There is just one. The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) is the only certifying board for orthodontics that is recognized by the American Dental Association. This board was founded in 1929, making it the oldest specialty board in dentistry. The ABO serves to protect the orthodontic specialty and encourage orthodontists to achieve certification, demonstrating their commitment to lifelong learning and exemplary care.

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

Successful completion of this rigorous examination process showcases the orthodontist’s unwavering dedication to excellence in orthodontics. It exemplifies a practitioner’s commitment to delivering the highest level of patient care, including a comprehensive treatment approach to ensure quality work. Furthermore, many orthodontists see it as a demonstration of their commitment to the specialty, as well as the highest level of personal achievement.

What steps are required to complete the ABO certification process?

Board certification requires the completion of a thorough written examination of 240 questions that cover all areas of orthodontic knowledge. Upon successful completion of this board exam, the orthodontist will then proceed to the clinical examination in which he or she will present detailed case reports from their practice/residency, demonstrating a history of excellency in patient care. These cases are peer reviewed and later discussed during an oral exam, where the applicant is tested on a wide range of academic and clinical subjects. Once this is successfully completed, the applicant will be board certified and awarded a time-limited certificate. A board-certified orthodontist must go through certification renewal every 10 years in order to maintain their status.