Achieving board certification is a final step in an orthodontist’s long and intensive educational experience, which begins after graduating from dental school!
Orthodontist vs. Dentist – What’s the Difference?
First off, every orthodontist IS a dentist. However, after graduating from an accredited dental school, an orthodontic specialist chose to continue his or her education and specialize in orthodontics, which is one of nine recognized dental specialties. It’s similar to the way a physician may pursue specialized training to be a heart surgeon or a pediatrician. An orthodontic specialist must be accepted (it’s a competitive process) and complete two to three years of clinical training in an orthodontic residency program.
Throughout these years of hands-on clinical experience, orthodontic specialists gain expertise in diagnosing, preventing, and treating orthodontic problems, which means they have the expertise to offer comprehensive treatment options related to your jaws and bite, as well as moving teeth.
Dentists are experts in oral health, too. And some may offer orthodontic treatments to their patients, but unless a dentist is also an orthodontic specialist, he or she has not received the same level of formal, in-depth training.
What Does it Take to be Board Certified?
Board certification is a voluntary process that takes hundreds of extra hours of preparation, over several years, to achieve. You must re-apply for certification every ten years.
To become board certified, Dr. Kulits was required to present and defend 10 of his own treated cases in front of a board of experts. The treatments had to start at a certain level of difficulty and end with an excellent result for the patient. Dr. Kulits feels that the hours spent achieving and renewing his certification were well worth the time, as they made him a better orthodontist than he would have been without having done it.
A board certified orthodontist is also called a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). You can learn more about ABO Certification at the ABO website.