Orthodontists are qualified dentists, who after graduating from dental school, go on to additional full-time university-based education in an accredited orthodontic residency program supervised by orthodontists. That training lasts two to three academic years. By learning about tooth movement (orthodontics) and guidance of facial development (dentofacial orthopedics), orthodontists are the uniquely educated experts in dentistry to straighten teeth and align jaws.
Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists limit their practices to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. That means that orthodontic treatment is what they do, and that is all they do. Orthodontists treat a wide variety of malocclusions (misaligned aligned teeth and/or jaws). They regularly treat young children, teens and adults.
Selecting an orthodontist who is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is your assurance that you have chosen a qualified orthodontist: the dental specialist with at least two to three years of post-doctoral, advanced specialty education in a university-based program accredited by the American Dental Association. Specialty education includes the study of subjects in biomedical, behavioral and basic sciences; oral biology; and biomechanics. Only orthodontists may be members of the American Association of Orthodontists.
In addition, by selecting an orthodontist who is board certified by the American Board of
Orthodontics (ABO), you have chosen a specialist who has undergone a voluntary examination by his or her peers on the basis of knowledge and clinical skills. To become board certified, a
orthodontist has to pass a rigorous set of written and clinical examinations. The process can take anywhere from five to ten years to complete and an orthodontist must recertify every ten years to remain board certified. Becoming board certified signifies the orthodontist’s pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence in the field.