The American Board of Orthodontics was created in 1929 and is the oldest specialty board in dentistry. It was created to elevate the standards of practice in orthodontics, as well as to help familiarize the general public with the aims and ideals of the field, and protect the public against unqualified practitioners. The ABO is sponsored by the American Association of Orthodontists and is the only specialty board recognized by the American Dental Association.
To become board certified, an orthodontist must pass a written exam, a clinical exam, and present real-life case studies to a peer review board. The written and clinical exams are rigorous, and every orthodontist must also undergo a comprehensive review of his or her credentials. The initial certification process can take between five and ten years to complete, and then the orthodontist must become recertified every ten years to retain the status.
A board certified orthodontist is also known as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontists. This designation indicates that the orthodontist has voluntarily been examined by his or her peers, and signifies a pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence in orthodontics.
Board certification shows patients that an orthodontist is committed to the highest level of patient care that includes a comprehensive approach to treatment.