What does it mean to be a Board Certified orthodontist?

In order to practice, all orthodontists must be licensed, but not all orthodontists are board certified, and this extra step reflects significant effort, skill and knowledge on the part of the certified orthodontist. Becoming board certified is a completely voluntary achievement, and the certification process consists of a series of tests conducted by a panel of highly respected examiners at the American Board of Orthodontists (ABO). These tests review an applicant’s orthodontic knowledge, judgement and clinical proficiency using reliable and objective testing methodology. When your orthodontist has achieved board certification, you know you are in good hands.

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

The only certifying board that the American Dental Association recognizes is the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). Operating as a specialty board in dentistry since 1929, the ABO has one goal: to promote high-quality orthodontic care through professional collaboration, education and certification.

Why pursue certification?

Becoming board certified is a demonstration of an orthodontist’s personal commitment to orthodontic excellence. It is a sign to the public, potential patients and other orthodontic professionals that the orthodontist is invested in keeping on top of the latest orthodontic advances and delivering exceptional patient care. For many certified orthodontists, their certification is great personal achievement as well.

What does the ABO certification process look like?

As the orthodontic field has changed over time, so has the ABO certification requirements. These days, the process begins with a written examination of 240 questions that cover all aspects of dental facial orthopedics and orthodontics. If the qualifying orthodontist successfully completes this examination, they are invited to take a second, scenario-based oral clinical examination that puts the application of their knowledge and critical thinking skills to the test, evaluating their clinical proficiency in four core performance areas. Both tests take a significant amount of preparation and time. Every 10 years, the Board Certified orthodontist is asked to renew their certification by demonstrating their continued dedication to patient care.

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