The American Board of Orthodontics was founded in 1929 and is the oldest specialty board in dentistry. The American Board of Orthodontics was first established by Dr. Albert Ketcham and several colleagues who believed that the specialty of orthodontics should have a certifying body. The original objectives of the ABO were stated in the charter of incorporation "to elevate the standards of the practice of orthodontia; to familiarize the public with its aims and ideals; to protect the public against irresponsible and unqualified practitioners."
The certificate issued by the Board was then, and has continued to signify, a certification of attainment. It does not confer any legal qualification, privilege, or license to practice orthodontics. It is not a professional or academic degree. In essence, Board certification is a process by which an individual orthodontist is voluntarily examined by his/her peers as to orthodontic knowledge and clinical skills. The passage of the examination process is a demonstration to the dental profession and the general public of the orthodontist's pursuit of continued proficiency and excellence in orthodontics.
The primary purpose of The American Board of Orthodontics is to elevate the level of orthodontic care for the public by encouraging excellence in clinical practice and specialty education. In its mission statement, the Board clearly defines four objectives:
1) to evaluate the knowledge and clinical skills of graduates of accredited orthodontic programs by conducting exams and conferring time-limited certificates.
2) to re-evaluate clinical knowledge and skills through administration of recertification exams throughout a Diplomate's career
3) to support the development of quality graduate, postgraduate and continuing education programs in orthodontics.
4) to promote and encourage certification expertise throughout the world.