About Board Certification


Learn more about Dr. Zirbel & Dr. Slama’s prestigious Board Certification!

Are all orthodontists Board Certified?

No. All orthodontists must be licensed to practice, however board certification is a voluntary  achievement that all orthodontists do not choose to pursue. In order to become board certified  by the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), an individual orthodontist is thoroughly tested  to demonstrate their orthodontic knowledge, clinical skills and judgment. The most fair, reliable  and valid testing methodology is utilized to test clinical proficiency in an objective manner. The  ABO certification process signifies a unique achievement—a significant step beyond the two to  three years of advanced education required for a dentist to become a specialist in orthodontics. 

How many certifying boards are recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards as the national certifying board for Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics?

One. The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) is the only certifying board in the specialty  that is recognized by the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and  Certifying Boards as the national certifying board for Orthodontics and Dentofacial  Orthopedics. The ABO was founded in 1929 and is the oldest specialty board in dentistry. The 

board’s purpose is to elevate the quality of orthodontic care for the public by promoting  excellence through certification, education and professional collaboration. 

Why would an orthodontist choose to complete this voluntary certification process?

Successful completion of the examination process demonstrates the orthodontist’s personal  commitment to excellence in orthodontics – to both the orthodontic profession and the  general public. It exemplifies a practitioner’s commitment to continue to keep abreast of the  latest advances in patient care, and to continue to deliver these latest advances to patients.  Many orthodontists see it as a demonstration of their dedication to the specialty and the  highest level of personal achievement.

What steps are required to complete the ABO certification process?

Since the establishment of the ABO in 1929, the certification process requirements have  continued to adjust to the demands of the specialty. Today, the process involves a thorough  Written Examination (240 questions) covering all areas of orthodontics and dental facial  orthopedics which an orthodontist should be knowledgeable. Successful completion of this  board examination allows the orthodontist to proceed to the Scenario-based Clinical  Examination where they are objectively evaluated on their knowledge, abilities and critical  thinking skills based on proficiency and clinical excellence in four core performance  areas/domains. Both examinations take significant preparation and time. After successful  completion of these examinations, the orthodontist has officially achieved Board Certification,  for a limited time period. The orthodontist must go through Certification Renewal every 10  years to maintain their certification status by demonstrating this continued level of patient  care.