The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) is the only certifying board recognized by the American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association. The ABO was founded in 1929 and 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.”
What is a Board Certified Orthodontist?
To start with, an orthodontist is a dentist who has completed a (post-doctoral) graduate program accredited by the American Dental Association in the specialty of orthodontics. To become board certified, an orthodontist has to pass a rigorous set of written and clinical examinations, as well as a comprehensive review of their credentials. The initial process of becoming board certified can take anywhere from five to ten years. Once certified, the current rules require the orthodontist to be recertified every ten years to maintain board certified status. (Orthodontists who were board certified prior to this current recertification mandate, are grandfathered in with “lifetime” board certification status and do not need to recertify every 10 years).
According to the ABO, "involvement in the certification process is a demonstration of the orthodontist's pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence.”
Orthodontic specialists who are current Diplomates of The American Board of Orthodontics can be found at
the ABO website under "Find a Diplomate".
Always verify the certifying board when an orthodontist does not provide this information.