Orthodontics is a dentistry specialization. Orthodontists study the mechanical forces of physics applied to living tissues to achieve the optimal displacement of dental pieces (biomechanics). But what does this mean?
In more straightforward language, orthodontists evaluate the state of a bite, determining a diagnostic about the type of misalignment of teeth and jaws. Then, after a comprehensive interpretation, designs a treatment plan.
A treatment plan usually requires orthodontic devices to apply a gentle force on teeth. This is because the movement of teeth displaces the periodontal ligament (soft tissue) attached to the bone.
The connective tissue fibers of the periodontal ligament regenerate as a tooth moves, settling into its new position. However, too much force might damage the tissue.
So, an orthodontist must calculate the appropriate force anticipating how these displacements modify the dental and facial structures. Consequently, an orthodontist must dominate the principles of biomechanics.
Therefore, the orthodontic specialty provides greater functionality to the teeth by aligning them, allowing for better occlusion (bite), improved hygiene, aesthetics, and above all, the quality of life of patients.
With all this background, you can imagine that the orthodontic field is fantastic and exciting. In fact, many orthodontic specialists simply love what they do. The best proof of their passion for this professional field is that orthodontists are willing to endure a demanding training and specialization process.
After obtaining a diploma in a program in dentistry from a dental school, orthodontists continue with additional 2-3 years of orthodontic specialization, training, and competitive residency. Advanced education includes an orthodontic specialization (master’s degree).
But this does not end there. In reality, the orthodontist’s adventure is just beginning. Orthodontists must gain experience while maintaining a high standard of excellence for years to become a specialist in orthodontics.
In addition, in this adventurous path, some orthodontists demonstrate a commitment to excellence and constantly update their orthodontic knowledge on technological and methodological advances in the area. But how does an orthodontist do that? In short, through board certification.
What Is a Board-Certified Orthodontist?
When deciding to get orthodontic treatment, it is imperious to find a trained professional with clinical skills who completed an enduring professionalization process. In addition to this, orthodontic specialists have the opportunity to update their knowledge voluntarily.
Board certification comprises two important things:
First, board-certified orthodontists prepare for hundreds of hours to undergo an exhaustive evaluation to prove their professional judgment in application cases, competence, and expertise to provide excellent patient care.
Secondly, obtaining a board certification demonstrates enthusiasm for improvement in the orthodontic field to meet the highest professional standards.
What Is the Process for Obtaining a Board Certification?
The certification process is a continuous course of action that encompasses various defined steps determined by the American Board of Orthodontics [ABO]. Therefore, we include a short systematic review of the board certification process:
Obtaining a Graduate Degree
The first step is to graduate from an accredited orthodontic program by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Accordingly, an orthodontist must pass a comprehensive written examination. The exam is a multi-purpose test that helps prove broad knowledge of orthodontic care and treatment’s entire process (phases).
The board examines the level of excellence in the standards required to treat patients with several diagnoses. The defined diagnosis areas require orthodontists to show evidence via detailed case reports that must comply with a step-by-step process in all its phases.
The clinical examinations include case presentations from previous professional treatment outcomes. A panel of examiners provides records from which the candidate must present a thorough evaluation consisting of a diagnosis and an entire treatment program.
After completing and passing the board certification examinations, the board awards the orthodontist with the certification, which has a validity period of ten years.
However, a certified orthodontist might opt to enter a new certification process even before the certificate expires with the sole intention of demonstrating their willingness to excel professionally to get a voluntary credential.
How Many Orthodontists Are Board Certified?
By the time we write this article, the number of board-certified orthodontists accounts for 58% of all orthodontists in the US, also part of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
This makes a concerted impact in the orthodontic area and provides a good reference that orthodontic professionals aim for a superior standard and continuous commitment to their practice.
By 2017, the American Dental Association (ADA) estimated that 10,658 orthodontists were professionally active and practicing in the US. Additionally, the increase rate of professionals per year is 15%
This means that for 2022 roughly, there are between 18,000 to 20,000 orthodontists, and approximately 11,000 are currently board-certified.
What Are the Things To Consider When Finding an Orthodontist?
Having a board certification means that an orthodontist is not only accredited but excels at providing optimal results and orthodontic care. At Silver Lake Orthodontics, Dr. Fedora Katz provides patients with a warm and friendly environment where she and her team strive to make them feel comfortable.
Dr. Katz and her team understand orthodontic treatment goes beyond straightening teeth. We converse with our patients to clear their doubts and fears, explaining their dental and facial structure and how it will change after treatment with a comprehensive approach.
Make an appointment or visit us so Dr. Katz can start planning, modeling, and delivering a beautiful smile for you and your family, a smile that lasts for a lifetime.