The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), St Louis, routinely seeks orthodontic educators’ feedback in regard to its board-certification process. As a result of recommendations received at the Vincent G. Kokich ABO Educators Symposium in March 2014, the ABO has refined its certification procedures to standardize requirements among all examinees. Below is a synopsis of the changes that went into effect at the beginning of October 2014.

  • The ABO now offers one certification pathway—the Initial Certification Examination. Eligibility for this pathway is divided into two categories: the recent graduate and the clinical orthodontic practitioner. Both categories require the examinee to be a graduate of an advanced specialty education program in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics in the United States or Canada that is accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The examinee must also successfully complete the ABO written examination for eligibility to participate in the Initial Certification Examination.
  • Recent graduate: This examinee must submit a minimum of three of the required six cases within 24 months of graduating from a CODA-accredited orthodontic program. Recent graduates must submit cases that they solely treated while in their residency program and/or clinical orthodontic practice. The balance of case requirements will be collected—either from residency within 24 months of graduation or from post-residency practice within 10 years—and two more attempts at completion of requirements.
  • Clinical orthodontic practitioner: This examinee graduated from a CODA-accredited orthodontic program more than 24 months ago and must submit six cases from clinical orthodontic practice. Full-time orthodontic educators who have met all other requirements may present a maximum of three cases that they directly supervised while teaching within a CODA-accredited program.
  • Initial certification examination case criteria: The recent graduate and the clinical orthodontic practitioner must meet the same case criteria. Standardization of the clinical examination has balanced the requirements for the two categories of examinees. Specifically, both the recent graduate and clinical orthodontic practitioner may now submit at least one non-orthognathic surgical case with bilateral end-to-end or greater Class II molar relationship present at the time of appliance placement. All other case requirements remain the same.
  • Banking process: If an examinee does not fully complete the Initial Certification Examination at the first sitting, presented cases that are evaluated as complete will be “banked,” or documented, at the ABO central office. The examinee, whether a recent graduate or clinical orthodontic practitioner, will have 10 years and two more attempts to collect the balance of required cases.
  • Certification renewal examinations: Diplomates with time-limited certificates must complete the First Certification Renewal Examination (followed by the Second, Third, and Fourth Certification Renewal Examinations) to maintain certification every 10 years. The ABO instituted an online examination component for the Certification Renewal Examinations in September 2015. With the addition of the online exam, case requirements have been reduced, and cases are to be submitted online and by mail only.

“The ABO directors request feedback from orthodontic educators, examiners, and examinees on a regular basis,” said Paul Castelein, DDS, president of the ABO. “We take this information seriously. The changes to the certification and certification renewal pathways clarify and facilitate the examination process and will encourage more orthodontists to pursue certification. The Board anticipates impending changes to the ABO website and increased educational outreach to the public will further enhance the value of board certification for ABO diplomates.”