American Board of Orthodontics Doctor Certification

The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) was founded in 1929. It is the oldest and most prestigious specialty board in dentistry. The ABO’s aim is to elevate the standards of the practice of orthodontia, to familiarize the public with its aim and ideals, and to protect the public against irresponsible and unqualified practitioners.

The Board upholds four main objectives supported by its mission:

  • To evaluate the knowledge and clinical skills of graduates of accredited orthodontic programs by conducting exams and conferring time-limited certificates
  • To re-evaluate clinical knowledge and skills through administration of recertification exams throughout a Diplomate’s career
  • To support the development of quality graduate, postgraduate, and continuing education programs in orthodontics
  • To promote and encourage certification expertise throughout the world

Becoming Board Certified

To become board certified, an orthodontist has to pass a rigorous set of written and clinical examinations, as well as a comprehensive review of his or her credentials. The initial process of becoming board certified can take anywhere from five to ten years. Once certified, the orthodontist must become recertified every ten years to maintain board-certified status.

What Does It Mean to be Board Certified?

A board-certified orthodontist, also known as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, has been voluntarily examined by his or her peers on the basis of knowledge and clinical skills. Becoming board certified signifies the orthodontist’s pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence in orthodontics.


Why Should You Choose a Board Certified Orthodontic Specialist?

  • Founded in 1929 as the first specialty board in Dentistry and the only certifying board recognized by the American Dental Association for the specialty of Orthodontics. Certification as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics signifies a unique achievement, a large step beyond the two to three years of advanced education required for a dentist to become a specialist in orthodontics.
  • The process requires the candidate to demonstrate actual accomplishments in patient care with detailed case reports on the treatment provided for a broad range of patient problems.
  • Preparation for this phase usually requires at least five years just to complete the treatment and follow-up on the different types of conditions required by the Board. Each detailed case report must be completely documented with x-ray films, photographs, and plaster casts made before and after treatment.
  • Those records are studied by directors of the American Board of Orthodontics who then complete the examination process with a penetrating oral examination based on those reports and other aspects of patient care.
  • The significance of board certification goes far beyond achieving the approval of that panel of experts. The greatest benefits come from the in-depth self-evaluation that goes into the years of preparation for board certification.
  • This voluntary effort in continuing education is unique in the way that it applies for earlier classroom work and conventional continuing education to the real world of patients care, culminating in presentation of the results for critical review by a panel of nationally respected peers.