How to make sure that your orthodontist has been formally trained in orthodontics

The next several pages list the most common unsound practices that patients should avoid. This page covers How to make sure that your orthodontist follows the Center for Disease Control(CDC) and American Dental Association(ADA) guidelines on sterilization Other pages will cover How to make sure that your orthodontists has been formally trained in orthodontics How to make sure that your Orthodontists does not take old braces out of someone else's mouth and put them in your mouth or your child's mouth. How to make sure your orthodontists knows the symptoms of metals allergies and how to treat allergic patients. How to make sure your orthodontist participates in a study club or other form of continuing education.

Avoid "Orthodontists" who have not been formally trained in orthodontics

One key piece of advice I give to patients is to ovoid "Orthodontists" who have not been formally trained in orthodontics. Most patients are surprised to learn that legally, any dentist can call himself an orthodontist, even if the dentist has had no formal training in orthodontics. All board certified orthodontists have had at least 2 years of formal training in orthodontics, the equivalent of a residency, and meet continuing education requirements. However, about 40% of the "orthodontists" are not board certified and have not had formal training in orthodontics; instead they learned orthodontics by taking a weekend course in the subject.

I recommend that you only consider a board certified orthodontist, someone who has national certification by being accepted for membership by the american association of orthodontists, or someone with equivalent training and experience.

The Board Certification Process

Orthodontists are certified by the American Board Of Orthodontics. In order to be board certified the orthodontist must:

  • Have at least two years of training in an accredited orthodontic program
  • Pass a test in orthodontics
  • Have at least two years of clinical experience. The orthodontist normally will work for another orthodontist during this time.
  • Demonstrate his competence by having the board check his work.

The orthodontist then applies for certification. After all of his credentials and skills are checked, he receives certification. He then needs to continue to take courses to maintain board certification.

How can a patient know if my orthodontist is Board certified?

The way to check if your "orthodontist" has been formally trained in orthodontics is to ask if the orthodontist if he is board certified. If the orthodontist says that he is board certified by the American Board Of Orthodontics, he is board certified. The orthodontist will have certificates to prove it. The orthodontist will also be quite qualified if he has been accepted for membership by the American Association of Orthodontists.

There are other organizations who give orthodontists beautiful plaques after the "orthodontist" takes a weekend course. Look for certification by the American Board of Orthodontics or the American Association Of Orthodontists to insure that your orthodontist has been trained and tested in orthodontics.

Other things that you can check include 'where did the orthodontist receive his formal training'. The orthodontist should have taken a two year course in orthodontics and a major university. Click here for a list of all of the universities which are certified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association

Finally, you should check whether an orthodontist is affiliated with a major orthodontic association. In the US, most board certified orthodontists are also members of the American Association Of Orthodontists You can call the American Association Of Orthodontists, 1-800-STRAIGHT (1-800-787-2444) or write to AAO, 401 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141-7816. to find a list of board certified orthodontists in your area. The American Board of Orthodontics maintains an online directory of Diplomats of the AAO. Diplomats are orthodontists with years of experience and extra training in orthodontics. Generally the Diplomats are the very best in the profession, although there are many excellent orthodontists who have not applied for diplomat status.